Newsletter, A Year In

A little over a year ago, I began a newsletter called “In Solitude, For Company” after a line in W.H. Auden’s poem “Horae Canonicae.” I promised that it would include:

  1. A lo-fi layout
  2. Something I’ve written (usually published by someone else first)
  3. Pencil sketches
  4. A review of a local artist or author
  5. A bi-weekly schedule

I have nailed the lo-fi layout. I’m a writer, but I could tinker with code all day if it was available to me, which would eat the time that I wanted to write. So apologies that it isn’t pretty, but it keeps me in the sentences and out of the back end.

It has morphed into an opportunity for me to discuss artistic vision, so it has mostly become short (~1,000 words) essays about the ends for which art should strive. Occasionally that means I take a look at someone else’s work, whether a visual artist, an author, or potentially a songwriter. Although, reviews of local authors have been tricky. Discussing honestly a person-I-know’s art–successes and shortcomings–in a public forum didn’t have quite the effect that I was hoping for. I’ll figure it out at some point; maybe I’ll get a thicker skin about other people’s thin skins.

The pencil (or ball point or sharpie) sketches aren’t good, and I’m ok with that. They’re staying.

I’m currently working on Issue #20, which means I’m averaging a newsletter once every three weeks. I’m also ok with that. No one needs more emails just for the hell of it.

If you’d like to subscribe, toss in your email address by following this link.

Or if you’d prefer to browse the archives to see what you’re signing up for, check here.

New Essay about Larry McMurtry

Front Porch Republic published an essay of mine (Larry McMurtry and Wendell Berry at the Dairy Queen) remembering Larry McMurtry and his influence on our local imagination. Below is the opening of the essay; if it intrigues you, then go ahead and click the link above.

Amarillo, TX. On a pre-Covid Saturday afternoon in Amarillo, I was having a beer with the poet Donald Mace Williams at a bar that was otherwise empty—save for one cowboy drinking alone. At 90, a lifelong newspaperman with a Ph.D. in Old English, Don has contributed his fair share to Texas letters, including an  adaptation of Beowulf set in our forgotten section of Texas called the panhandle. Around Beer #2, we began discussing the works of Larry McMurtry. Don proclaimed loudly that he believed Lonesome Dove was a farce. The cowboy down the bar perked up at the mention of the novel. 

Lonesome Dove is the greatest book ever written,” said the man, pushing back his Stetson. 

Don, undeterred, said it again. “It’s a farce. McMurtry thought the Western was dried up, and then he wrote one!” 

The cowboy squinted down the length of the bar, sizing up the old poet. For a moment, I felt Don had just drawn me into a fist fight with a stranger.

“I don’t know about all that,” the cowboy mumbled. “It’s just a great book.” He pulled his hat down and returned to his beer.