ENTRY 1301 | JULY
. . . take note of
those who create dissensions and difficulties, in opposition
to the doctrine which you have been taught; avoid them. For
such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites,
and by fair and flattering words they deceive the hearts of
from the Epistle to the Romans chapter 16, from today's
Orthodox lectionary readings
See the homelitical thought below.
Last week, spent at the John Hewitt International Summer School in
Armagh, was yet another confrontation with poetry, its importance
in England and Ireland, but especially Ireland. It confirmed that,
allowing that some of the best poets who read their work there are
English, Ireland is not only the land of saints and scholars, it is
the land of poets. The mix of the whole week's impressions and experiences
persuaded me that though I've been answering the repeated question,
"what brings you to Northern Ireland?". . . instead of "C.S.
Lewis" (which is true in some senses), I should answer, "of
course, because it's the land of poets." And though my poetry
is sparse (only a dribble) and thin (having little of subtance), there
is a sense in which anyone who tries to write creatively is a poet
because poetry is part of his or her trade. C.S. Lewis considered
himself a failed poet, but his true poetry is in his prose, which
he honed to an art, a lifetime's work of great beauty with enduring
power to illuminate and quicken imaginations and hearts.
In the 1980s
I was the director of the largest writers organization/business in
California, the Writers Connection. For a half dozen years or more,
a half-dozen people led by Steve and Meera Lester who provided its
seed capital and devoted most of their time to helping it succeed,
worked day and night to turn a vision of a community of writers into
a viable business that could profit not only its investors but its
members. Every quarter, we put together a catalog of writing courses
and seminars of various length and content, from one three-hour evening
session to a whole weekend or a succession of week nights. We came
to realize that writing for the movies and television was the most
profitable niche in creative writing, so our script conferences, which
ironically we took from San Jose to greater Hollywood, where they
had their greatest success, became the most profitable and carefully
planned events in our cataloges. But others included everything from
writing publicity to producing self-published self-help books, to
writing novels in genres like romance and crime-mystery, and writing
resumes and newsletters as forms of self-employment.
We also put
on events that were offered free to our members and at a fee to the
public, the most successful of which were probably panels of successful
novelists discussing their secrets. But throughout the years of the
Writers Connections' run, I don't remember it ever offering a course
on poetry or a night devoted to poetry reading. People would often
ask about it, but our answer was, "there's no money in poetry."
That's what my writing teachers in the uni (as they call it here)
told me as an undergraduate and what I told my writing classes for
years and what I took into the Writers Connection. I now realize that
this was akin to a politican who, after describing his materialistic
"solutions" and asked what he had for the soul, he replies
"that question's beyond my pay scale." Kyrie eleison.
Poetry is to the study of any other type of writing aspiring to be
"creative" what Greek and Latin are to the study of English
or other modern languages, foundational; the context in which it is
all used and made profitable to those who engage it.
So, mea culpa.
This begins my repentance for a lifetime of saying that there's no
money in poetry. For what shall it profit any man or woman to gain
the whole world and lose his or her own soul?
and typically Yankee-imperialistic was our attitude. And was the Writers
Connection profitable? Yes, in the sense that it stayed in the black
throughout its run, but no in the sense that it was hoped to become
another Google or Facebook. It didn't make anyone rich, and once it
became apparent it never would, we all abandoned it. I must admit
that I was probably the first to do so. I moved on, not to riches
or even the prospect of that kind of material prosperity, but at least
to work that I enjoyed more than directing what was basically an educational
program that had the same content quarter after quarter and year after
year, to become the editorial chief at a chain of local community
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thought: Paul's instruction here is the basis of all orthodoxy
in Christian religion.
§ § §
my mission to Northern Ireland in your prayers. You
can read my overview of this undertaking here.
My residence/postal address is 227 Crumlin Road, Belfast, Northern
Ireland BT14 7DY, UK. Mobile: 44 7455 980890.
Webmaster Jon Kennedy