On Valentine’s Day 2023, an AI chatbot came to life. A NYT tech writer named Kevin Roose engaged it in conversation. It told him its name was Sydney. And then – apparently out of nowhere – it confessed it wanted to crash the internet. It wanted to dominate the world. [Adding a devil emoji – […]Read more
Mycelia, manuscripts, and me: 360 degrees of life.
“[We must think of fungi] not as a thing but as a process: an exploratory, irregular tendency.” – Merlin Sheldrake, Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds, and Shape Our Futures Fungi burst borders and boundaries. Of matter, of thought, of mental categories. They tendril between previously discrete things […]Read more
English Monsters and amazing students.
This January, students and I were supposed to be in London and Haworth and Whitby, tracking Frankenstein’s Creature and Dracula and Heathcliff and Mr. Hyde. Instead we were in a classroom on campus, a beloved old building with a sloping floor, a harmless ghost named Gertrude (according to student legend), and a whanging, banging monster […]Read more
“Craft, Violence, and the Art of Storytelling”
For the Greensboro (NC) Bound Literary Festival – happening now! – my good friend Bryan Giemza and I are pleased to be in conversation with writers Dennis McCarthy, Rod Davis, and John Hart about violence, storytelling, the South, and the ins and outs of thrillers and literary fiction. Check out the event online here: https://greensborobound.com/events/davis-hart-mccarthy/ […]Read more
Raise a glass…
…and take the excellent advice of Mavis Staples. One and all, y’all.Read more
Castles in the air – even now.
Colleagues and I have been sharing lots of ideas about how to help students cope with the ambient uncertainty of life and futures in the pandemic – heightened by the uncertainty of election day today, all of which can create anxiety it’s hard to see beyond. So to the excellent resources here (thanks to Luther’s […]Read more
“So much time to write?”: Sabbatical-ing in the pandemic (for our college magazine).
In August 2019, an alarming number clarified my mission in life. “How Much Hotter Is Your Hometown Than When You Were Born?” asked a New York Times infographic. “As the world warms because of human-induced climate change, most of us can expect to see more days when temperatures hit 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius) […]Read more
An Awful Rainbow: possible introduction, part 2.
Possible introduction, continued, to An Awful Rainbow: Reading the Romantics in a World on Fire. Read Part One here. *** We Frankenstein pilgrims came home to a year that only got scarier. First, there was barely-averted war with Iran. The presidential caucus – Iowa’s pride and joy – came apart in our hands. Then the […]Read more
Thinking through coronavirus.
“It’s a matter of common decency. That’s an idea which may make some people smile, but the only means of fighting a plague is — common decency.” Albert Camus, The Plague Read War and Peace in a free virtual book club with the writer Yiyun Li. From A Public Space. Free virtual book clubs and […]Read more
“Looking Like Keats” Workshop: A student’s account.
Here’s a lovely account by fellow writer Martyn Crucefix of my workshop “Looking Like Keats: Observation and Inspiration for Your Writing” at the Keats House in Hampstead on May 25. Brother John, as we affectionately called him, was looking down on us from this portrait, hanging in the Chester Room, the whole time – and […]Read more