Long Distance

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The hillside is salted green, nothing too deep or too muted, and we wreathe the ocean at a consistent pace, not changing speed, not faster or slower but lighter than I’ve ever traveled before, alone on a highway in a rented Japanese car.

The original was published in The Literary Bohemian in January 2011. Read the full piece here.

Feliz Navidad

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“What I learned from the experience is that I can never stray too far from the expected, the traditional, especially with family at holiday time. For years, if the can-shaped cranberry sauce wasn’t on the table at Thanksgiving and Christmas, something was wrong. It didn’t matter that hardly anyone ate it, or that we children used to sculpt things out of it when no one was looking. It had to be on the table or the meal was lacking.”

The original article was published by Connotation Press in December 2010. Read the full version here.

Cherry Valley Organics: A Healthier CSA

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“Cherry Valley Organics makes me feel like family. Located in Washington County south of Pittsburgh, the farm is only a short drive from my home. Approximately 40 acres total, but with less than 10 acres in production, the property has five paid staff members and caters to the customer not the farmer. Unlike more traditional CSAs, Cherry Valley lets subscribers order from a menu rather than just receive an unpredictable amount of produce every week. Such a business model is much better suited to the home kitchen in terms of selection, flexibility, less waste, lower overall cost, etc. Similarly, because I agreed to be the drop-off point for my local area, three or four large white coolers appear on my front porch every week–sometimes late at night, sometimes early in the morning. When people walk up the street to share in the spring harvests, I see neighbors I might not have seen since the previous fall. Because of Cherry Valley, I feel more connected to my community.”

The original article was published by Connotation Press in June 2010. Read the full version here.

Love and the Ten Thousand Things: A Review

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“Expansiveness also characterizes Karasek’s collection. Among pieces that weave together seasonal references with the patina of memory are poems employing a Zen-like caesura. Such pieces recall a breathy confusion upon rediscovering a lost sensation or the staccato beat of a practiced scale. In “12 tones,” for example, the silence of the prairie is compared to an empty hall after the musicians have gone home. All that’s left is the discarded evidence of what was, “a barrelful of noise. discarded candy wrappers,” and sound, like pain, is referred: “narcissus hears only echo, / above the river. / the river shudders.” The aural imagery of Karasek’s poetry becomes a palette, as it were, of emotional landscape where silence fills in the gaps between awareness.”

The original review was published in Rattle in May 2010. Read the full version here.

Healthy Dog Muffins

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“For over five years, I have been preparing an organic, human-grade, (mostly) wheat-free diet for my dog, Radar. In February 2003, I adopted him from a no-kill shelter for dogs, cats, and horses. He was different from my first beagle, Cookie, who was quiet and aloof; after several harrowing days of panic and exhaustion, I began in earnest to train him: sit, shake, lie down, roll over, the usual commands. He responded with devoted attention and his destructive behavior changed significantly within days.”

The original article was published by Connotation Press in March 2010. Read the full version here.

U2 1980-1983: Portrait of the Artists as Young Men

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“Since the publication of Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man in 1916, Irish writers have rewoven Joyce’s entangled nets of family, religion and politics to accommodate changing circumstances and eras. While Irish writers such as John McGahern, William Trevor and Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill remain writers known mostly to scholars and students of Irish studies, U2 has introduced millions of worldwide listeners to cultural issues facing the Republic in the late twentieth century. Thematic parallels in the band’s trilogy, Boy (1980), October (1981) and War (1983), suggest  Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen, Jr. struggled with the same repression endured by Joyce’s semi-autobiographical hero, Stephen Dedalus, a century earlier. Like Joyce’s artistic manifesto, U2’s early albums, considered as a whole, are the youthful rejection of societal orthodoxy and a musical declaration of intent that act as an emotional, intellectual and moral framework for the albums that followed. Although these three studio albums are linked by subject matter to the band’s fourth release, The Unforgettable Fire (1984), they are separated by the November 1983 release of U2’s first live album, Under a Blood Red Sky, and a shift from the band’s first producer, Steve Lillywhite, to the more technologically savvy pairing of Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois, an adjustment which resulted in a substantial modification of U2’s style and tone and the unambiguous maturation into the second phase of their career.”

This paper was presented at the PCA/ACA Conference in Boston, MA in April 2007. Please contact Arlan Hess for a hard copy of the text.

Verwandlung und Uebersetzung: Metamorphosis, Translation, and the Poetry of Nelly Sachs

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“Although she stopped writing during the Holocaust, she emerged from its destruction, like the butterfly of which she so often writes, to use her talents to help prevent the slaughter from happening again. In translations, Sachs’ spirit was evident, but her meaning was often lost in too-literal attempts; most of her work is translated by purists who believe in the primary importance of the line. I find the results of this loyalty misleading and confusing. They seem more concerned with denotative level of words than with the spirit of the poetry, yet it is my conviction that Sachs’s work is more lyric than narrative. Her form follows content. Her imagery embodies a highly complicated structure that uses symbolic language to communicate fear and acceptance. She often links two or more words together in unexpected ways, freeing semantic components and intensifying connotative implications (Ilek 135). She juxtaposes words and phrases that in German reflect confusion, pain, trauma, etc. Yet, in English, those patterns don’t always apply. I found myself doing a great deal of work just to understand what was happening in her poems before I could study the deeper implications of her theme. My translations grew organically from my need to understand her work and my desire to see her language flow as easily in English as it does in German.”

The original paper was published in the Journal of Evolutionary Psychology in August 2002. For a hard copy of the full-length text, please contact Arlan Hess.