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The first, most general, I alluded to above: a Dantean hell, purgatory and heaven. The second structural factor is that HOPE is a novel within a novel, so that each of the three sections, in one way or another, moves between the story that Joseph Spero tells us about his plight, and the story Joseph is writing about a 13th century abbot named Father Benedictus.

There are specific aspects to the interaction of the two stories that form the smaller structural members of each section, but that may be more information than you were hoping, or have a need for. I can think of many reasons they would be drawn to HOPE, not the least of which is the clear, clean, poetic prose. The style of writing instantly transports the reader to the moment in the lens.

The book begins:. Father Benedictus walks the concrete floors of his domain. It is a sunny morning on a hilltop and the view is of the sea, but the sea is mountains and the mountains have valleys and the valleys are filled with sacramental fog. It is the first sunny morning after weeks of rain. Father Benedictus commands a vista that oversees the fog and the sheer peaks that emerge from it. It is Father Benedictus is the keeper of a secret.

Perhaps he smiles. And if he smiles, he smiles because he is walking on his secret, surrounded by his secret. His secret forms the sounding boards off of which the prayers of tierce, and then the Eucharist, had just reflected and refracted. He is at ease in the middle of a grand hierarchy that is crowned by the radiant and radiating glory of the secret. The silent monks at the Monastery of San Zeno know the secret, and Father Benedictus is its vested clerk. In the view of this interviewer, your poetic gift is integral to the rendering of this complicated and deeply satisfying story.

Please talk about the role of poetry in HOPE. On the other hand, the process of writing a novel and writing a book of poetry differ significantly, a fact I kept from myself throughout most of the work on HOPE. One phrase that has occurred to me to describe the difference is that writing a novel is akin to composing a symphony if the musical analog to writing poetry be composing chamber music.

One reason — maybe the chief reason — is that my analogy misses the crucial object quality of poetry. In one way or another, my work in poetry has been concerned with narrative. And since I have been writing books of poetry — in the Spicer sense of that — as opposed to collections, issues of continuity, pacing, tension, suspension, delay, etc. What needed to be added into that mix were some of the conventions of fiction — characters, dialogue, narrative arc, and so on — that I never really needed to deal with — or purposely and even vehemently avoided in my poetry.

Another aspect of the connection between the two disciplines is musicality. In my poetry I have place a high value on the sound of the line.

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It was great fun shifting that concern into what felt to me to be the more open field of the prose sentence. I actively sought to bring the kind of tension I have worked at in poetry into my fiction, and, as in my poetry, tried to bring it to each unit of integrity: in this case, sentence, paragraph, chapter, section, book. I sense that another distinguishing aspect of HOPE from your longer narrative poems is the increase in population.

There are more attention points via the characters present. A large measure of focus comes through Joseph Spero, y our contemporary, and an intriguing character. Your depiction of him in a larger context adds multiple layers of interest about who he is, what he experiences. Through attention to detail, incorporating sensibility and humor make for vibrant reading.

Can you talk about Spero? In the poetry there is a wrestling with narrativity and a very purposeful avoiding of narrative in any conventional sense, at least insofar as structuring a given poem around narrative ends or thinking about narrative arcs as a method or goal.

On the contrary, I am often commenting on the negative aspects of narrative, both politically and aesthetically, especially in poetry, where story-telling as an end seems often to have displaced more interesting and — I think — vital properties of poetic work. The novel on the other hand, pretty much requires characters. Of course there are many ways to construct a character. In HOPE, as in most novels, the foregrounded characters are the most nuanced, the most dimensional, while those who populate the peripheries tend to be flatter.

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I wanted Joseph, along with all of the other major characters, to emerge and change as the work progresses. We know him through his voice, his perceptions — or lack thereof — through his reversals, through the eyes of others. But as the story evolves, and as he revises his story, I hope that he takes shape and that the shape then gains complexity and depth. You have created a philosophical dance with and around Spero, formed of his perceptions and misperceptions. Spero takes us all over the place. His capability of being drawn to depth seems clear. His ability to experience such depth is less clear. In his confusion two fictions develop, one that he is writing, one that he is narrating. I hope that the ambiguity is both justified and, in the end, largely straightened out. He is also well regarded by many others, and repeatedly is given opportunities. The intelligence that is clearly essential to his position in the novel keeps pointing to where he places his attention.

His judgment makes him vulnerable, perhaps even less than his self-doubt. My question: Did Spero surprise you as he took shape on the page? All of the major characters consistently surprised me. Some questions now, Dennis, about the novel and about this novel. Start with any of the following, as you prefer! Having invested time, energy and attention in this work, how do you see it in the larger genre of the contemporary novel?

Alternatively, how does the accomplishment of having completed Hope compare to other work of yours in the realm of poetry? I persist in my no-doubt outmoded sense that my job as a writer is to do my work, and I have had a difficult time seeing that work as involving anything other that writing — and more recently teaching. This of course is much to the detriment of my books, which all could have used a far more active advocate than I have turned out to be. One lofty aspiration that I do have for all of my work — and whether I have sometimes succeeded or not seems less relevant than the goal — is to revalorize language — the English language — after the thorough leeching of meaning created by rampant commercialism and commercialized politics.

I sense a quality of directness, even of purity, in your writing, and this comes through as clearly in HOPE as it does in any of the poetry. A single voice as ingredient of living and experiencing finds words in his mouth that are beyond him. Here, I feel the Pro Spero character allowing himself to be carried off into his fate, assuming, perhaps unwittingly, a role in the proceedings, available to us now by voice.

Nothing seemed to reassure them. Finally, someone hit upon the idea of giving each child bread to hold at bedtime. Holding their bread, these children could finally sleep in peace. All through the night, the bread reminded them, "Today I ate and I will eat again tomorrow.

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This book came recommend by some mentors, but to be hones I just found it really weird. I appreciated the insistence on focusing as a community on what we are thankful for, but the odd three-person authorship and just hippy language was a a big turn off. In my opinion there are better books on the topic. Not finishing a book is pretty rare for me!

Nov 19, Lynn rated it it was amazing. This is a short book to help people understand what the daily Examin is about. The authors explain it and give examples from their own lives on how to listen to your daily experiences and sense the leading of God through the things that give you joy, life and consolation and the things that bring more negative emotions, least favorite activities of the day and desolations. It is a quick read, but could be the start of a very good habit to help change your life.

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Mar 08, Dawne rated it liked it. This book was assigned as part of my homework for a class called The Sacred Invitation. I believe that learning about the Examen and investigating what is life giving and what is life draining makes you realize how much control you have to choose how you live and what you put up with daily. This is a great a little read with deep meaning. Mar 10, Erin Grasse rated it really liked it Shelves: religion. I came to this book by means of Teresa A. Quick Read and Worth Reading This book may seem superficial unless you start asking yourself the two questions daily and then pay attention to how your answers reveal things about yourself.

Learn discernment and your path to fulfillment by practicing examen - keeping a log of your peaks and pits. You'll see a pattern and discover how to direct your life to greater peace and satisfaction. Dec 22, Priscilla rated it really liked it. A short book with a simple and clear approach to living fully.

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It will stay with me. Thank you, dear sister, for giving me this book! For me, so much of the book is concerned with how language works, with artistic process, with formal concerns and with issues of narrative and narrativity, etc. On the other hand, what I think film-makes are looking for, above all things, is story, and I think the two, intertwining stories of Hope would work well in a film.

It would open up the possibility of actors playing duel roles, which could bring an entirely new dimension to how the work is perceived. I found myself holding the smile evoked by the remark that Spero made about Karma. Time and characterization seem intertwined in so many wonderful ways. What comes through in reading HOPE is that these two elements are interdependent.