Patrons & Saints

by Matthew Koslowski on December 24, 2009
in Essays

To one of my saints, my dear friend, Emily Baum, with the deepest appreciation.

In This Essay

On the Shortness of Life by Seneca (C.D.N. Costa, trans.)
Late Bloomers by Malcolm Gladwell, The Annals of Culture, The New Yorker
On Dying Young by Matthew Koslowski, Literature&Literacy
William Stafford, Poet, Wikipedia
Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke (Stephen Mitchell, trans.)
Ahead of All Parting: The Selected Poetry and Prose by Rainer Maria Rilke (Stephen Mitchell, ed. and trans.)
The Second Four Books of Poems by W.S. Merwin
 

“Is there anything I can do to cheer you up?” she asks.

“Sure,” I say. “Just show me a writer — a poet, preferably — who did not a pickup a pen before he was 27 or 30, who amounted to anything, who history remembers.”

These conversations are common.

I expect the normal, well-intentioned platitudes. Often I begin to despair because I have not dedicated myself to my writing. I begin to think that my time is up. “It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it,” Seneca whispers. “Life is long enough, and a sufficiently generous amount has been given to us for the highest achievements if it were all well invested.” And I begin to think about how I have not invested my time well.

Rilke writes, “…if, as I have said, one feels one could live without writing, then one shouldn’t write at all.” Haven’t I been living without writing? I have not worked on my novel in weeks. Or have I been existing and drifting? Do I really feel that I could live without writing?

“William Stafford,” she says.

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Weekly Review: November 27th to December 3rd

I had not realized just how many things come through my newsfeeds in the course of a few weeks. On returning to my newsfeeds after ignoring them to work on my application essays for the Boston Teacher Residency, I had over 1,000 items to review.

Even after clearing out almost all items prior to November 27th — a few of the headlines caught my eye and seemed worth reading — I still had in excess of 400 items to review. So, here are some of my favorites from that review.

These Things Caught My Eye

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Weekly Reviews on Hold until December

I’ve been working on my application for the Boston Teacher Residency program. The deadline for early admission is December 1st, 2009. So, for the next ten days, I’ll be refining my application essays and resumes.

I’ll pick up the Weekly Reviews again after I’m sure that my application is complete.

Sincerely,

Matthew Koslowski

On Dying Young

by Matthew Koslowski on November 18, 2009
in Anecdotes

As I have written before, I aspire to be a novelist.

But that desire to be a novelist does not come without a number of uncertainties and fears. Looking at the papers, it is not difficult to come across an article bemoaning the state of the publishing business or another article bemoaning the state of the American reader. Stories circulate within writers communities about the difficulties of finding first an agent and then a publisher. The story is so well known that it even appeared in the movie Sideways as the special lot of writers.

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Weekly Review: October 23rd to October 29th

What is the common phrasing of the Biblical proverb? “Seven years of feast, seven years of famine”?

Keeping in line with our rapidly shrinking sense of time and of being overwhelmed, when I look back on writing the Weekly Reviews, I feel like there are seven days of feast and seven days of famine.

This week has been a feast week. I emailed myself twenty-seven (27) stories for consideration for this week’s post. In fact, part of the reason why I did not post on Friday is because I had so much material to sort through.

These Things Caught My Eye

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