Today is the last day of the year on the Christian liturgical calendar; tomorrow is the First Sunday of Advent. So, as in past years, I have marked the end of the old year by looking back over it, summarizing where this blog—and my life in the subjects it covers—has been in the past year. This week has also marked the end of my hiatus, so my year-end retrospective posts this week have also served as “monthly” status reports and described my plans for blogging going forward.
On Monday and Wednesday of this week I wrote about two of the four main departments of this blog, looking back and forward regarding the Shine Cycle and Strategic Primer. Today, a look through the “essays” that appeared in this space on Saturdays (and occasionally on other days; and a few of the poems, which ran on Fridays) in the past year—since last year’s retrospective—and what you’re likely to see here from now on.
Year in Review
First, a look back over the “essays” and “poems” sections of the blog in the past year.
Hymns and the Liturgical Year
Many of my posts were written for the various occasions in the cycle of the liturgical year. And many of these fit into my series of posts about great and favorite hymns. For example, each Saturday in Advent I wrote about a favorite Advent hymn, including “Lift up your heads, ye mighty gates”, “Hark, what a sound”, and “O come, o come, Emmanuel” (including, of course, all seven verses, and both the English and the original Latin. I also wrote about “O Morning Star! how fair and bright” in Epiphany, “Hosanna, loud hosanna” for Palm Sunday, “Come, ye faithful, raise the strain” in Eastertide, and “Come, Holy Spirit, come” for Pentecost.
The other “essay” posts written for specific occasions on the liturgical calendar were a discussion, on Christmas Day, of the idea that Jesus was born “that first Christmas morn“; an Epiphany discussion of “believer’s baptism,” “falling away,” and infant regeneration, and again an Ash Wednesday meditation.
I also continued my series of posts about hymns with a few that were not chosen to fit the liturgical calendar: “Praise, my soul, the King of Heaven”, “All people that on earth do dwell” (“Old Hundredth”), and “God of our fathers” just after Independence Day.
I continued working my way through my list of books everyone should read to explain why I think each book belongs on the list, though I only covered a couple of books: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and the poetry of A.A. Milne.
I had meant to write at least one “review of ‘recent’ books,” but didn’t get around to it.
In addition to the posts prompted by occasions on the liturgical calendar that I mentioned above, I wrote a few posts related to civil holidays—and my own birthday.
First, around the turn of the civil year, I wrote a personal retrospective and set goals for this year, then wrote a “New Year’s ramble”.
Then, in February, on my birthday, I wrote about self-image as opposed to actual age.
As I mentioned above, in July I chose the hymn to discuss because of the proximity to Independence Day.
Lastly, this week I wrote a reflection—my sixth annual—for Thanksgiving.
I posted twenty-two poems this year. That’s nowhere near the poem a week I once managed, but it’s still more than I want to enumerate here. (If you want to see them all, you can read the category, or look at the archive page that I have finally updated with the last ten or so poems.) And it was close to my goal of about a poem a week until I abruptly stopped in June.
Here are a few of the “highlights” I would pick out from the double handful of poems:
- A poem I wrote for Advent, “O come, O King”, became the first—and so far only—post that someone reblogged on another blog.
- In January, I wrote what I think is about my second “filk” (poem based on “a fandom”): Tirian
- And the very next week, after beginning a new friendship, I wrote Friends, based in part on the old rhyme “Make new friends.”
- Yet another poem I posted in January, The Praise of Poetry, also later ran on the Holy Worlds blog.
- And lastly, in March I wrote a poem that was partly prompted by a sonnet by e.e. cummings: “The trees stand”.
Throughout the year, I kept working on my “Poetry Book” project. I intended to post updates on it quarterly, but didn’t quite manage that. Still, I did post four updates over the course of the year, and one somewhat tangential post, including an update that gave updated stats on poems’ popularity on this blog at the turn of the civil year and an announcement that I will be maintaining a promotional blog that will post a poem—by other poets—a week for a year.
I’ll give an update on the project in a later section of this post.
Other than the posts I’ve already discussed, the most common general topic among the remaining posts was what we may call writing theory.
First, in January, I talked at some length about “rewind” style time travel and time travel in fiction in general.
Second, in March, I wrote an explanation of what I mean when I ask for suggestions of a “real title” for a poem.
And third, in May, I wrote a description of the process of “iterative outlining” I use to develop my Shine Cycle.
At the end of May, I wrote a thought experiment probing how we ought to think about certain hot-button political issues.
And in October, after not having written anything of any real substance on the blog since August at the latest, I made the hiatus official.
Poetry Book Update
The Poetry Book project is all but done, but behind schedule. (I had hoped to have it actually done, not just “all but done,” by the middle of November at the latest.) The print version is waiting for proof copies to ship and be approved, and the Kindle version is almost to that point.
I added three more poems since the last count I had mentioned; the collection now contains fifty-nine poems, each accompanied by at least one public-domain line drawing, woodcut, or engraving.
As I mentioned above, earlier this fall I announced plans to maintain a promotional blog. I have now made that blog public: like the book, it is called “A Year in Verse”, and it can be found here.
I had hoped and intended to have a substantive post run in this space every Saturday this year. This obviously did not happen, and blogging, coursework, and other priorities interfered with each other.
So, as with the other departments of the blog, I now plan a reduced and not nearly so strict schedule. I hope to post at least a couple of substantive (i.e. not just “sorry no post,” and more than just a hundred words or so) “miscellaneous essay department” posts each month, and at least a couple of new poems, but those will no longer come only on Saturdays and Fridays respectively.
I also plan and hope to continue my tradition of marking Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, and Pentecost.
But we’ll see.