Doubled Mirrors

It is the dark of the moon.

Late at night, the end of summer,

The autumn constellations

Glow in the arid heaven.

The air smells of cattle, hay,

And dust. In the old orchard

The pears are ripe. The trees

Have sprouted from old rootstocks

And the fruit is inedible.

As I pass them I hear something

Rustling and grunting and turn

My light into the branches.

Two raccoons with acrid pear

Juice and saliva drooling

From their mouths stare back at me,

Their eyes deep sponges of light.

They know me and do not run

Away. Coming up the road

Through the black oak shadows, I

See ahead of me, glinting

Everywhere from the dusty

Gravel, tiny points of cold

Blue light, like the sparkle of

Iron snow. I suspect what it is,

And kneel to see. Under each

Pebble and oak leaf is a

Spider, her eyes shining at

Me with my reflected light

Across immeasurable distance.


~ Kenneth Rexroth


This eerie poem reminds me of my short fiction “Windmill Ridge,” which also evokes the transition from summer to fall and a sense of being watched. To read an excerpt, visit the page above.


Dave Hitchborne

Dave Hitchborne

Life, it seemed, was such that it was impossible to wish for better: there was abundance, there was health, there was the child, and they both had their occupations. Anna paid attention to herself in the same way without guests, and was also very much taken up with reading – of novels and the serious books that were in vogue. She ordered all the books that were mentioned with praise in the foreign newspapers and magazines she received, and read them with that concentration that one only finds in solitude.


~ From Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, born on this day in 1828


"Анна Каренина" by Henrich Matveevich Manizer

“Анна Каренина” by Henrich Matveevich Manizer

The Crystal Gazer

I shall gather myself into myself again,

I shall take my scattered selves and make them one,

Fusing them into a polished crystal ball

Where I can see the moon and the flashing sun.


I shall sit like a sibyl, hour after hour intent,

Watching the future come and the present go,

And the little shifting pictures of people rushing

In restless self-importance to and fro.


                                      ~ Sara Teasdale


La Boule de Cristal (The Crystal Ball) by John William Waterhouse, 1902

La Boule de Cristal (The Crystal Ball) by John William Waterhouse, 1902


The leaf-watcher’s month,

if she can bear to


The year changing its mind,

voluble as an older bride


The year undergoing pears


September being also a floating classroom

for studying the great lakes



who gives anyone who asks


a guided tour of the year,

the month who keeps all year’s promises,


leaf by leaf


                    ~ Penelope Shuttle


"Maple Leaf" by Edward Edmondson, Jr., circa 1870

“Maple Leaf” by Edward Edmondson, Jr., circa 1870

I cannot describe to you my sensations on the near prospect of my undertaking. It is impossible to communicate to you a conception of the trembling sensation, half pleasurable and half fearful, with which I am preparing to depart. I am going to unexplored regions to ‘the land of mist and snow’ […]. You will smile at my allusion; but I will disclose a secret. I have often attributed my attachment to, my passionate enthusiasm for, the dangerous mysteries of ocean, to that production of the most imaginative of modern poets. There is something at work in my soul, which I do not understand.


~ Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, born on this day in 1797



Inside cover art from the 1831 edition of "Frankenstein"

Inside cover art from the 1831 edition of “Frankenstein”

Six years ago on this day, with a succinct, autogenous “Hello, World!” announcing its quiet arrival on the heavily populated, cyber literary landscape, Archetype was launched.  Conceived originally in 2009 to chronicle my academic journey through Chapman University’s dual Master of Arts in English and Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program and provide a forum for peer critique and camaraderie, I promptly posted passages from one of my short stories (“Windmill Ridge”) and my novel-in-progress Time of Death and invited classmates to contribute their work.  I also published original essay excerpts on Jonathan Franzen and the waning of a literary America (“Antisocial or socially isolated?”, “‘Tis the good reader that makes the good book”), mirrors and reflective imagery in world literature (“Masks, Manipulation, and Madness”), and the notion of the invoked doppelganger in fiction (“The Self We Seek”), all of which I was studying in those first few months of back-to-school bliss.

362px-Th_Richter_Dame_in_der_BibliothekLike any creative endeavor, the site evolved as I did and soon reflected my deepening involvement in and abiding commitment to literary and academic pursuits.  In addition to promoting Chapman fiction and poetry readings and publication opportunities in those first years, I mined journals and the Internet for interesting and informative local events taking place beyond the university’s borders.  Details regarding local and national writing contests and Calls for Submissions were and still are also posted regularly.  In 2012, I added a section for the growing number of my guest blog posts, my interviews, and other places where I’ve stumbled pleasantly upon my own work in the cybersphere.

Followers know that I most often post poems and passages that have timely personal significance.  From my occasional struggles with insomnia and feelings of isolation to my simple delight in a book or summer peach, each post, like a journal entry, suggests precisely where I am intellectually and emotionally.  Early on I rejoiced to find pictures, particularly nineteenth century oil paintings, that evoked or complemented the literary piece I was posting, and I now spend nearly as much time searching for corresponding artwork as I do compelling literature.

Thanks to my passionate professors and their fascinating courses on Oscar Wilde and the Aesthetic Movement, the life and works of Virginia Woolf, female enchantresses of modern British literature, and Gothic and fantastic fiction, Wilde, Woolf, and the works of A. S. Byatt, Katherine Mansfield, Angela Carter, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Edgar Allan Poe were frequent early Archetype subjects.  Posts on Wilde culminated in November 2009 with the writing of my course thesis on The Picture of Dorian Gray (“The Act of Creation,” “Wilde Irony”), while Woolf reigned in the fall of 2010.  My essay on chaos theory and the butterfly effect in the works of Virginia Woolf remains my SophieAndersonTakethefairfaceofWomanproudest literary achievement to date and will serve as my Ph.D. application writing sample next year.  (Click on these links to review excerpts from “The I in the Portrait: A Bakhtinian Analysis of The Picture of Dorian Gray and “On the Wings of Angels and Butterflies: The Chaotic Journey to Woman in Mrs. Dalloway and To the Lighthouse.”)

My penchant for Russian literature and philosophy was also soon discovered, and I immersed myself and, by extension, Archetype in Gogol, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, and Nabokov and began to examine just about everything through the lens of Mikhail Bakhtin.  Later courses exposed me to the intriguing life and works of Gertrude Stein (“Back to Bakhtin: The ‘I’ in Ida), Junot Díaz, Ralph Ellison, and many others, and every newly encountered author was explored here to some extent.

The craft of writing is another recurrent theme on Archetype; “Genetics-Based Grammarianism,” “In Celebration of Technique,” “Last Writes,” “More is More,” “Not Quite Write,” “Drafting Perfection,” and “A Sense of Style” are my personal favorites.  However, it is the angst of writing about which I tend to muse and articulate most freely; “Why Write?,” “One True Sentence,” “Bird by Bird,” “Write About Now,” “Demons and Darlings,” “The Reality of Rejection,” “The Joy of Ending Well,” “A New Summer of Writing,” and “The Write Stuff” all convey my own grapples with the creative stall and feelings of inadequacy.

With the MA in English attained two years ago, a few modest writing awards under my belt (“Praise for Time of Death,” “On the Write Track”), and conferral of the MFA degree this past January, I’ve been in the process of considering what’s next these past few months – for me academically and literarily and for this site (“A Silent Abyss,” “A Beginning and an Ending,” “Writing in the Afterlife”). As I’ve mentioned recently on Archetype (“Это правда?”) and in an interview on TreeHouse, I’m planning to apply to various Ph.D. programs in English, Comparative Literature, and/or Rhetoric; however, with applicant admission rates of approximately four to five percent at local universities, I’m keeping the likelihood of acceptance in perspective.

GOTTHA~1Nonetheless, the pursuit of admittance will be next year’s undertaking and will, of course, be recounted here.  For the immediate time being, my focus will remain on submitting my short fiction and nonfiction work to various conferences and journals, launching a part-time freelance writing and editing career, and preparing for both the General and Literature in English Graduate Record Examinations.  (A list of my current study resources is provided in the sidebar to the right.)  And there is still the full novel to finish and market (“This is the Year,” “This is That Summer,” “Writing in the Aftermath”).

During the last seventy-two months, I have published 695 posts about literature, critical theory, writing technique, literary figures and events, submission opportunities, favorite poems and passages, articles of interest, books I’m reading, papers I’m writing, other literary blogs I’m following, conferences I’m attending, and demons I’m wrestling.  Archetype celebrates holidays, welcomes new seasons, and gives the occasional nod to lunar activity – and much-needed sleep.  Finally, personal aspects of my affective life and literary journey are memorialized and shared (“Write of Passage,” “Cartwheels Under the Arch,” “Pathetic Fallacy,” “Beyond Words,” “Finis”), even when the discovery and healing are mine alone.  I hope you will all follow me as this new narrative begins.





Praised be the moon of books! that doth above

A world of men, the fallen Past behold,

And fill the spaces else so void and cold

To make a very heaven again thereof;

As when the sun is set behind a grove,

And faintly unto nether ether rolled,

All night his whiter image and his mould

Grows beautiful with looking on her love.


Thou therefore, moon of so divine a ray,

Lend to our steps both fortitude and light!

Feebly along a venerable way

They climb the infinite, or perish quite;

Nothing are days and deeds to such as they,

While in this liberal house thy face is bright.


                            ~ Louise Imogen Guiney


The Reading Room of the British Museum by Riccardo Cambiassi

The Reading Room of the British Museum by Riccardo Cambiassi


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