These Crisping Days

Well, it’s a time of turnings, isn’t it, with the leaves largely now composting on the ground, and our especially beautiful 2013 autumn in Missoula yielding to its annual heir. I’ve been reading some of Mary Oliver’s poems recently (from her wonderful volume A Thousand Mornings), and I was taken by her sense of the season’s transformational “rich mash”:

Lines Written in the Days of Growing Darkness

Every year we have been
witness to it: how the
world descends

into a rich mash, in order that
it may resume.
And therefore
who would cry out

to the petals on the ground
to stay,
knowing as we must,
how the vivacity of what was is married

to the vitality of what will be?
I don’t say
it’s easy, but
what else will we do

if the love one claims to have for the world
be true?

So let us go on, cheerfully enough,
this and every crisping day,

though the sun be swinging east,
and the ponds be cold and black,
and the sweets of the year be doomed.

Let me first apologize for the long period of silence on this blog. I could make excuses that involve citing the lack of support we receive for our web endeavors, but, well, let’s just say we resolve to do better henceforth! And I expect you will hear from others besides me in the coming months!

As for the Department of English, there have been other kinds of “turnings” in recent months, as well. Professor John Hunt became Chair of the department this past summer, taking over for Professor Jill Bergman, to whom we owe great thanks. In our main office, we were sad to see Karen Sturm leave (and we wish her much happiness in her retirement), but thrilled to welcome Leisa Nelson into the position. And then there are our students, of course: we celebrated another wonderful group of graduating seniors in our commencement ceremony this past May, and were proud to honor our Mortar Board Outstanding Seniors: Kelsey Fanning (Literature), Ashley Gaumer (English Teaching), Kelsey Hom (Creative Writing), and Kevin Tuttle (Film Studies).

My colleagues have been busy, as ever, being unfailingly dedicated teachers and brilliant scholars. Their accomplishments since the last posting are too broad to represent here, but I do feel I must mention Professor Joanna Klink, who this past April was one of only eight writers in the country to receive an Arts and Letters Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. We’ve also seen some significant scholarly books published in recent months — including Professor John Glendening’s The Evolutionary Imagination in Late-Victorian Novels and Professor Ashby Kinch’s Imago Mortis: Mediating Images of Death in Late Medieval Culture — as well as an historical novel by Professor Casey Charles, The Trials of Christopher Mann.

We have another diverse and exciting selection of classes — indeed, a “rich mash” — available to our students in this Spring’s schedule. Anyone looking for reading recommendations for the longer nights that await us might check out our faculty’s most recent suggestions on the Top Threes page. Finally, do consider visiting (and “liking”!) our Department of English Facebook page, and, in a test for echo kind of way, leaving a comment here on the blog to remind us that, if anything, we should post more frequently!

Eric Reimer
Associate Professor

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