The Books & Essays

 

christian-thompson-low-growth2

Low Growth

ISBN 978-1625490506

Poems by Christian Thompson

Low Growth contains an attitude more than a theme—it is an attitude, to use Paul Tillich’s phrase, of “infinite concern.” Thompson is in awe of the spirit’s persistent curiosity, especially in the bleakest moments. It is a mysterious and vital attitude, something to be revered. Low Growth is a book of reverence for whatever it is inside us that not only keeps going in hard times but is curious as it moves, often enjoying itself.

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an invisible river2

An Invisible River,

a novella by Christian Thompson

Charlie Simpson, a seasoned trial lawyer in Philadelphia, PA, tired of corporate America’s control and manipulation of most state and federal legislators who enact laws written by big business lobbyists, finds a degree of consolation in his fight to help a doorman in his office building who becomes entangled in a Kafkaesque legal dilemma.

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essays

A Science of Subjectivity

an essay by Christian Thompson

A Science of Subjectivity first appeared in the 2009 Nov./Dec. issue of The American Poetry Review.  The essay was selected for inclusion in Twentieth Century Literary Criticism, Vol. 272, 2013. It focuses on Williams’ poem, To Elsie, as an example of a poem that employs a wide range of poetic elements to charge its language in a way so well-constructed it rises to the level of a science that expresses truths the other sciences are not capable of revealing.

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essays

In Measured Resistance: On Hayden’s Carruth’s ‘Contra Mortem’

an essay by Christian Thompson

Published in the 2004 July/Aug. issue of The American Poetry Review, In Measured Resistance: On Hayden Carruth’s ‘Contra Mortem’ analyzes the factors that combined to produce the poem Carruth said was one of his most satisfying since it accomplished exactly what he intended. Contra Mortem demonstrates the power of poetry to integrate and stabilize a personality psychiatrists predicted would never lead anything close to a normal life. It is a foundational poem in the career of one of the great American poets of the 20th century.

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 essays

Ethel

a short story by Christian Thompson

Published by The Amherst Review, Ethel is a story about a dwarf who lives in an apartment above a dress shop reached by an outside stairway consisting of twenty steps. She is an intelligent, introspective person used to being an object of curiosity as others watch her go through the daily routines of getting into and out of her car, waddle up the stairway to her apartment, stand on her tiptoes to reach into her mailbox. What interests and disturbs her keen mind the most is the contrast between the limitlessness of her life in dreams and the never-diminishing sting each time she wakes and is forced to come to terms with her restrictions.

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essays

Alive And Well

an essay by Christian Thompson

Alive And Well examines the effect of the American revolution in poetry lead by Pound, Williams, Eliot, and Stevens in the early 20th century on the way poets write today.  Although those greats abolished any notion of dogma regarding what constitutes a poem, they did not discard the necessity of technique. Williams especially embodied an iconoclastic attitude when it came to worn out meters and fixed forms. Yet no one was more of a craftsperson when it came to his attempt to find a new meter that captured the spirit of blue collar Americans in the first half of the 20th century struggling to survive. The essay describes how Williams’ devotion to technique is still evident in, and largely responsible for, much of the good poetry written today.

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essays

Practical Anarchism

an essay by Christian Thompson

The word, anarchy has negative connotations for those unfamiliar with its actual meaning and function. As a political movement, its history is so varied it is no wonder the word is surrounded by confusion and evokes associations with adjectives like destructive, chaotic, and subversive. Contrary to popular misconceptions, anarchy is a fundamental impulse necessary for coping with seemingly unendurable circumstances.  For some, imagining a better world is enough; for others, concrete acts in defiance of an oppressive government are required in order to satisfy their need to come closer to realizing an envisioned way of life. The essay focuses on how the arts’ ability to participate in both modes of anarchy makes them unique in their power to create a condition of freedom.

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essays

A Punctuation of Moods

an essay by Christian Thompson

“A Punctuation of Moods” analyzes William Carlos Williams’ use of the dash, rare resort to capital letters, and absence of periods in “To Elsie” to discover a capacity in poetry capable of revealing truths the other arts and sciences cannot. The capacity involves the absence of sentences and consequently thought in order to access and express a condition of experience that occupies more of one’s life than thinking. It involves moments each day when we are first affected by and drawn to objects we have not yet named. Regardless of what the objects ultimately turn out to be once the sentences in the mind are completed, it is the point of attraction within the sensibility to each object that gives a thing—no matter how seemingly well-known—unique life each time it is encountered.

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