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Fall Equinox

I know it’s midnight when the little owls

Commence their muted woodwinds in the pines;

It is September.  Pegasus inclines

His great square high where late the heavenly fowls,

The Swan and Eagle, flew the galactine.

I know it’s midnight of the equinox

And dark and light are even – and the flocks

Will feel the sun stand southward on the Line.

The owls’ soft conversation soon is done,

And I am listening to the heavy dark;

In me the slow withdrawal of the sun

Crossing athwart the night has left its mark

That no September’s end shall need henceforth –

I turn with the equator to the north.

 

                                        ~ Orrick Johns

 

“Two Owls” by Thomas Moran, 1917

A white, indifferent morning sky,

and a crow, hectoring from its nest

high in the hemlock, a nest as big

as a laundry basket…

                              In my childhood

I stood under a dripping oak,

while autumnal fog eddied around my feet,

waiting for the school bus

with a dread that took my breath away.

 

The damp dirt road gave off

this same complex organic scent.

 

I had the new books – words, numbers,

and operations with numbers I did not

comprehend – and crayons, unspoiled

by use, in a blue canvas satchel

with red leather straps.

 

Spruce, inadequate, and alien

I stood at the side of the road.

It was the only life I had.

 

~ From “Three Songs at the End of Summer” by Jane Kenyon

 

“A School Girl” by Myles Birket Foster, 1899

Insomnia

The moon in the bureau mirror

looks out a million miles

(and perhaps with pride, at herself,

but she never, never smiles)

far and away beyond sleep, or

perhaps she’s a daytime sleeper.

 

By the Universe deserted,

she’d tell it to go to hell,

and she’d find a body of water,

or a mirror, on which to dwell.

So wrap up care in a cobweb

and drop it down the well

 

into that world inverted

where left is always right,

where the shadows are really the body,

where we stay awake all night,

where the heavens are shallow as the sea

is now deep, and you love me.

 

                        ~ Elizabeth Bishop

 

Johann Peter Hasenclever, circa 1846

Summer begins to have the look

Peruser of enchanting Book

Reluctantly but sure perceives

A gain upon the backward leaves –

 

Autumn begins to be inferred

By millinery of the cloud

Or deeper color in the shawl

That wraps the everlasting hill.

 

The eye begins its avarice

A meditation chastens speech

Some Dyer of a distant tree

Resumes his gaudy industry.

 

Conclusion is the course of All

At most to be perennial

And then elude stability

Recalls to immortality.

 

~ Emily Dickinson, from Poems by Emily Dickinson, Volume 2

 

“Olvasó nő az erdőben” by Gyula Benczúr, 1875

Tin House is currently reading for its themed Spring 2018 issue on Candy and its non-themed Summer 2018 issue.  For the spring issue, the journal is seeking fiction, poetry, interviews, essays, and memoirs that deal with “that sweet thing you crave that also may be ruining your life.”  The editors are looking for any and every angle on a topic and love to be surprised.  The online submission deadline for both issues is September 30.

Prose submissions should not exceed 10,000 words, and poetry submissions should not exceed five poems.  Multiple submissions are not accepted.  Simultaneous submissions are permitted; however, only previously unpublished work will be considered for publication.  Since its creation in 1999, Tin House has been committed to showcasing the work of an undiscovered author or poet in every issue.

For more information and to submit online, visit the website at https://tinhouse.submittable.com/submit.

Good luck!

 

When you are already here

you appear to be only

a name that tells of you

whether you are present or not

 

and for now it seems as though

you are still summer

still the high familiar

endless summer

yet with a glint

of bronze in the chill mornings

and the late yellow petals

of the mullein fluttering

on the stalks that lean

over their broken

shadows across the cracked ground

 

but they all know

that you have come

the seed heads of the sage

the whispering birds

with nowhere to hide you

to keep you for later

 

you

who fly with them

 

you who are neither

before nor after

you who arrive

with blue plums

that have fallen through the night

 

perfect in the dew

 

~ W. S. Merwin

 

Hungarian Mullein by Sten

Eight 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.

Like 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 peaked 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 one of my proudest literary achievements to date and served as a Ph.D. application writing sample last 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,” “The Write Stuff,” “You Heard Write,” and “Imposter Syndrome” all convey my own grapples with the creative stall and feelings of inadequacy.

With the MA in English and MFA in Creative Writing attained and a few modest writing awards under my belt (“Praise for Time of Death,” “On the Write Track”), I spent most of 2015 considering what’s next—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 more than once on Archetype (“Это правда?”) and in an interview on TreeHouse, applying to various Ph.D. programs in English, Comparative Literature, and/or Rhetoric was always in the “someday” plans.  To that effort, I devoted much of 2016 to researching local curriculums, preparing for the treacherous Graduate Record Examination, and pursuing admittance to my chosen university.  In December, I received the happiest of news (“We Are Pleased”) and began my doctoral studies in nineteenth century British and American literature and neuroscience at Claremont Graduate University this past January.  When and if time permits, my ancillary focus will remain on submitting my nonfiction work to various conferences and journals, establishing a part-time freelance writing career, revamping Archetype and launching a new site, and at last completing and marketing my novel (“This is the Year,” “This is That Summer,” “Writing in the Aftermath”).

During the last ninety-six months, I have published over one thousand posts about literature, critical theory, writing technique, literary figures and events, submission opportunities, favorite poems and passages, articles of interest, books I’m reading, classes I’m taking, 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 to much-needed sleep.  Finally, personal aspects of my affective life and literary and academic journeys are memorialized and shared (“Write of Passage,” “Cartwheels Under the Arch,” “Pathetic Fallacy,” “Beyond Words,” “Finis,” “Running the Risk of Beginning,” “The End Is Where We Start From”), even when the discovery and healing are mine alone.  I hope you will all follow me as this new narrative unfolds.

 

“Student Girl” by Nikolai Yaroshenko, 1883

 

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