The blog project

Cometh full circle, worm eateth tail, and blog begot of course begets a project for that course’s progeny.

My composters are set to be bloggers. Here’s their guidance.

In our third week, you’ll create a blog, and for the rest of our time together, you’ll nourish it with regular posts.

As a blog is an organic thing, growing in response to its environment, so too is this assignment. So while I’m laying out the general expectations here, some particulars are yet to come. For instance, I might a week from now, as I see how your blogs are developing, abruptly declare, Okay, all your blogs have to include videos of two non-human species interacting hilariously, and your commentary on that. Silly example. But be ready for me to add (non-capricious) requirements.

The basic requirements though are:

  • A blog that is up and running by the end of our third week – name, subject, and theme decided (these can be amended, somewhat), first page and post published.
  • At least three posts a week for the remainder of the quarter. (Some variance here is fine but no posts for two weeks and then ten posts in our last week, not fine.)
  • A serious engagement with your neighbours in the interwebs – hyperlinks, reblogs, comments, conversations.
  • A serious engagement, thereby, with our theme and substrate, compost.
  • Aesthetic care. Remember it’s a fine arts course. Choose your theme, your colour scheme, your words and phrases and image galleries, attentively, heartfully.

It will already, because it’s a blog, manifest compost in its form and method (though whether it does so less or more is in your power, and I keen you toward more.) It should too express a sense of compost in its matter – which is in every other respect up to you.

Thought experiment. How might one make blogs on these matters maximally composty?

Greek mythology
50s gender roles
climate engineering

Remember the basic gist of compost. Breakdown, blending, reformation. Any sort of mixing and melding that belongs on that arc – is likely like to compost.

First thoughts fall quarter

Okay, the move’s mostly made, still a bit of unpacking to do, but we’re up and running.

I’m teaching two sections of Intro to Creative Writing this fall. A course I’ve taught lots before but doing a thorough reno on it this go through. Less on core concepts and genre conventions. More on creative mischief and sideways mindleaps. The old version was good on fundamentals but kinda sobersided. And at Western this course isn’t a gateway for creative writing concentrators who need to learn all that good stuff. Rather it’s an elective taken by a lot of non-majors and future elementary and high school teachers. Who’re going to want some ways to get their students excited about the creative import of their own minds.

The first thing they learn about the course (after my office hours):

First premise. There is no one who is not creative. To make art—to sing, dance, shape sound, movement, language, or paint, any medium—is a birthright, as natural to us as our powers of speech and affection are. Second premise. We have not always been well served by our schooling. School may have, in fostering some of our capacities, estranged us from others. Most of us were probably better poets at six than at sixteen. Tentative conclusion. It is one task of a creative writing course—especially an introductory course—to rekindle the spark that connects, not A to B, but Q to oranges, mosses to stars. I don’t know exactly what this course will be—I see it as a work in progress and collaborative—but I hope you’ll feel more awake to being-alive-here-now for having taken it.

Heavy. Time for a foolish picture.

Cover image (4)

And so our itinerary is, one stop per week —


My posts will probably fall out likewise.

We’re going live

So this is The Art of Compost and it’s a blog. Because what the world really needs is another blog. It began with my prep for a course of the same name and soon took on a life of its own at plural intersections of my reading thinking teaching writing speaking feeling looking wondering.

Pretty sure to go in the bin are my thoughts on and misunderstandings of

  • 20th and 21st C. poetry and poetics in North America, esp. objectivist and Black Mountain traditions — what Stephen Burt has called The New Thing.
  • A mostly subterranean lineage connecting us to Very Old Things — busted up clay tablets, cave paintings, the intelligence of stones (sitting still).
  • Whatever collapses, rots, blends, merges, fosters, nourishes.
  • Stray thoughts on teaching, writing, reading, appearing, disappearing.

The impetus comes from Jed Rasula’s This Compost but he has neither reviewed nor approved this usage. Time for a picture of a nurse blog.


I hope you’ll check it out. If you like what you see, you can follow on by clicking the “Follow me …” button. Or watch for new posts on Facebook. (If you Like the Facebook page you’ll hear about new posts. I think. Pretty sure.)

And let me know what you think! Leave a comment in the comment box …


On origins, variously

Gone meta

This is a big fat post because wordpress doesn’t wish to import my very first early tumblr posts. So I’m piling ’em in here. Maybe I should just let it go but I’m not good at that. This blog, and rotting things generally, cuz I’m not, here come to teach me.

On tablets

Archaeologists unearthing clay tablets (Gilgamesh) and mummies wrapped in strips of recycled papyrus (Sappho) have developed a robust minor vocabulary for what’s gone missing.

Ellipses. Italics. Round brackets, square brackets, curly brackets, angle brackets, half square brackets. Each to mark a different sort of goneness.

Armand Schwerner had some fun with that vocabulary and in the process turned marks of absences to presences in their own right. This page from his Tablets takes it to one extreme.

Schwerner - Tablet X

And, at that extreme, beyond the last palm of the mind, something winks at Stevens, his “Man on the Dump”: “The the.” Hee hee. Schwerner probably also had in mind Pound’s “Papyrus”:

Spring .  .  .  .  .  .  .
Too long .  .  .  .  .  .
Gongula .  .  .  .  .  .

What I’ve been reading here. Armand Schwerner, The Tablets. Sappho, If Not, Winter (Anne Carson trans.). James B. Pritchard (ed.), The Ancient Near East: An Anthology of Texts and Pictures.

Here’s a bit of Gilgamesh for ya. G’night.



The Bible is a huge gorgeous reeking compost pile. Take Genesis. Three or more authors have their hands in it. The earliest is known as J, the Yahwist, and his God is fierce, dangerous, fallible, embodied. He likes to walk in the shade on a hot day. Then there’s P, the Priestly writer, his God’s detached and magisterial, his words are pure act, no dirtying of the hands, just let there be light. And E, the Elohist, his name for God Elohim, inconveniently plural.

Drawing it all together, somewhat skilled and somewhat hapless, R, the Redactor, trying to get a coherent account out of it all. He could cut and paste but couldn’t alter much the texts he received as sacred.

He succeeded insofar as we have a single thing called “The Bible.” He failed gorgeously insofar as we have two overlapping Creation accounts, glaring contradictions in the story of the Flood, and not one, not two, but three iterations of the “Hey, Pharaoh, that’s no sister, that’s my wife” gag.

Writings are readings. Readings are restlessly multiple. Thank God for which.

What I’ve been reading here. R. Crumb, The Book of Genesis Illustrated. David Rosenberg and Harold Bloom, The Book of J. Stephen Mitchell, Genesis.

Lastly, the beauty, to this atheist, of two thoughts in Genesis. That the created is good. And that even omnipotent beings come to rest.


So I’m starting to think about a course called “The Art of Compost” I’m set to teach this summer. And I thought, why not a blog, work out some ideas there.

Root quote

The recovery of the compost library extends in all directions.

– Jed Rasula, This Compost