How to tame the email dragon

Enter “how to tame the email dragon” in the Google search engine and about 2,300,000 results are available (in 0.50 seconds).

Fact.
The average length of an email is 50-100 words. Most emails are longer.[1]

Fact.
You spend at least 13 hours a week at the office[2] reading and replying to emails.
That is 650 hours a year![3]

Perspective.
It takes 12 to 13 hours to read John Updike’s Rabbit, Run.
Or (for non-readers) that is equivalent to a ten-episode Game of Thrones binge watching marathon.

Fact.
Most full-time employees work 1700 hours per year.[4] That means nearly 40 percent of your work life is engaged in reading and replying to emails.

NOTES:
[1] The Muse, Are Your Emails Too Long? (Hint: Probably), Forbes, March 11, 2014, accessed December 18, 2017. https://www.forbes.com/sites/dailymuse/2014/03/11/are-your-emails-too-long-hint-probably/#7e9f22965400
[2] Jordan Weissmann, Re:Re:Fw:Re: Workers Spend 650 Hours a Year on Email, The Atlantic, JUL 28, 2012, accessed December 18, 2017. https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/07/re-re-fw-re-workers-spend-650-hours-a-year-on-email/260447/
[3] Megan Garber, You Probably Write a Novel’s Worth of Email Every Year, The Atlantic, JAN 8, 2013, accessed December 18, 2017. https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2013/01/you-probably-write-a-novels-worth-of-email-every-year/266942/
[4] Joe Weisenthal, Check Out How Much The Average American Works Each Year Compared To The French, The Germans, And The Koreans, Business Insider, Aug. 17, 2013, accessed December 18, 2017. http://www.businessinsider.com/average-annual-hours-worked-for-americans-vs-the-rest-of-the-world-2013-8

PODCAST: Poems and readings for the Third Sunday of Advent

The God We Hardly Knew

by Óscar Romero

No one can celebrate
a genuine Christmas
without being truly poor.
The self-sufficient, the proud,
those who, because they have
everything, look down on others,
those who have no need
even of God- for them there
will be no Christmas.
Only the poor, the hungry,
those who need someone
to come on their behalf,
will have that someone.
That someone is God.
Emmanuel. God-with-us.
Without poverty of spirit
there can be no abundance of God.[1]


This audio podcast features “The House of Christmas” by GK Chesterton, “The God We Hardly Knew” by Óscar Romero and a selection from the Book of Common Prayer.

FolkAngel_GladTidingsAlso, special thanks to Folk Angel for permission to use “O Little Town Of Bethlehem” from their album Glad Tidings – Christmas Songs, Vol. 4. If you are looking for some great Christmas records, check out their website, FolkAngel.com.

NOTES:
[1] Source: The God We Hardly Knew by Óscar Romero
[2] Advent Poems (or the 12 days of Christmas poetry)

Exploring 12 Days of Advent poetry

Cathedral Square Park & Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist decorated for Christmas

When I saw Christmas decorations and trees begin to populate Milwaukee’s Cathedral Square Park as early as November 1st, I thought, Is it that time of year already? Unbelievable. With this weekend’s snowfall, the Cathedral Square Park’s decorated Christmas trees looks particularly Decemberish.

Screen shot of internet search

Earlier this month I searched online for some Christmas card ideas. Imagine my surprise when the search displayed a block print I created five years ago.

It seems so long ago and so far away. So much has happened in those few short years that it is difficult to catalog. Curiously, I clicked in the Pinterest link. Then I read the original blog post. It is the most visited post on the blog.

For the last few years, I have received modest feedback on a post I published titled “Advent Poems (or the 12 days of Christmas poetry).”[1] The most intriguing comment regarded a poem by W. S. Beattie. I could not locate the poem online. And the mystery of it excited me. Are there really poems people read that are not on the internet? I thought to myself. A lovely thought.

This year, a digital trail lead me to a PDF file posted by the Brentwood United Reformed Church.[2] Here is the poem recommended by a reader with the preface that the poem’s topic regards the misuse of Advent.

Advent Longing
by W.S. Beattie
These are the greedy days.
It used to be
That Advent was a longing fast,
A time to feel our need
in faith and tingling hope
And keen-eyed looking forward.
Now we cannot wait
But day by day and week by week
We celebrate obsessively
Clutching at Christmas.
When at last it comes,
The day itself,
Our glass is empty.
We have held the feast
Already, and the news is stale
Before it ever reaches us.
We cheat ourselves.
Yet – somehow – still we hope
In these spoiled days
That there may be a child.

It is a humble poem with a good reminder.

Another reader suggested the inclusion of T. S. Eliot’s “Journey of the Magi.”[3]

CCCA’s The Advent Project

And yet another reader pointed me in the direction of Biola University’s Center for Christianity, Culture, and the Arts (CCCA) The Advent Project.[4] I truly enjoy CCCA’s Advent project as it includes art, literature, music and video.

I need to revisit my “12 Days of Christmas” poetry list. Maybe next year it will expand to a “24 Days of Advent” poetry list. For now, please enjoy reading 12 days of Christmas poems.

  1. December 14 – “Annunciation” by Denise Levertov
  2. December 15 – “Advent Calendar” by Rowan Williams
  3. December 16 – “Advent” by Donald Hall
  4. December 17 – “Mosaic of the Nativity (Serbia, Winter 1993)” by Jane Kenyon
  5. December 18 – “The God We Hardly Knew” by Óscar Romero
  6. December 19 – “The House of Christmas” by GK Chesterton
  7. December 20 – “Into The Darkest Hour” by Madeleine L’Engle
  8. December 21 – “The Winter Is Cold, Is Cold” by Madeleine L’Engle
  9. December 22 – “Nativity” by John Donne
  10. December 23 – “A Christmas Carol” by Christina Georgina Rossetti
  11. December 24 – “Mighty Mercy” by John Piper
  12. December 25 – “For Christmas Day” by Charles Wesley

NOTES:
[1] Advent Poems (or the 12 days of Christmas poetry) https://coffeehousejunkie.net/2012/12/13/2013-advent-poems-or-the-12-days-of-christmas-poetry/
[2] Brentwood United Reformed Church, The Courier, December 2014/January 2015. Accessed December 11, 2017. http://www.brentwood-urc.org.uk/The%20COURIER%20-%20Dec%20January%202015.pdf
[3] The Poetry Archive, T. S. Eliot, “Journey of the Magi,” accessed December 11, 2017. https://www.poetryarchive.org/poem/journey-magi
[4] Biola University, Center for Christianity, Culture, and the Arts (CCCA), The Advent Project, accessed December 11, 2017. http://ccca.biola.edu/advent/2017/#day-dec-7

Find four more hours in a day


Personal archeology.
Discovered these old sketch books in September. Looked at them. Placed them on a shelf. Lost them again.

Rediscovered the sketch books again this weekend. Marveled at how much time was invested. Considered how these books were populated with sketches of classmates,  drawings of roommates and other ephemera in a place and time were smart phones, tablets and laptops were not ubiquitous.

Question:
What would you be able to create if you were not glued to your smart phone for more than four hours[1] a day?

NOTES:


[1] How Much Time Do People Spend on Their Mobile Phones in 2017?, Hacker Noon, May 9, 2017, accessed December 11, 2017 https://hackernoon.com/how-much-time-do-people-spend-on-their-mobile-phones-in-2017-e5f90a0b10a6

PODCAST: Poems and readings for the Second Sunday of Advent

Nativity

from La Corona

by John Donne

Immensity cloistered in thy dear womb,
Now leaves His well-belov’d imprisonment,
There He hath made Himself to His intent
Weak enough, now into the world to come;
But O, for thee, for Him, hath the inn no room?
Yet lay Him in this stall, and from the Orient,
Stars and wise men will travel to prevent
The effect of Herod’s jealous general doom.
Seest thou, my soul, with thy faith’s eyes, how He
Which fills all place, yet none holds Him, doth lie?
Was not His pity towards thee wondrous high,
That would have need to be pitied by thee?
Kiss Him, and with Him into Egypt go,
With His kind mother, who partakes thy woe.[1]


This audio podcast features “Mosaic of the Nativity (Serbia, Winter 1993)” by Jane Kenyon, “Nativity” by John Donne, “A Christmas Carol” by Christina Georgina Rossetti and a selection from the Book of Common Prayer.

FolkAngel_Comfort&JoySpecial thanks to Folk Angel for permission to use “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” from their album Comfort & Joy – Christmas Songs, Vol. 3. If you are looking for some great Christmas records, check out their website, FolkAngel.com.

NOTES:
[1] Source: “Nativity” by John Donne
[2] Advent Poems (or the 12 days of Christmas poetry)

PODCAST: Poems and readings for the First Sunday of Advent

Advent

by Donald Hall

When I see the cradle rocking
What is it that I see?
I see a rood on the hilltop
Of Calvary.

When I hear the cattle lowing
What is it that they say?
They say that shadows feasted
At Tenebrae.

When I know that the grave is empty,
Absence eviscerates me,
And I dwell in a cavernous, constant
Horror vacui.[1]


This audio podcast features “Annunciation” by Denise Levertov, “Advent” by Donald Hall, “Into The Darkest Hour” by Madeleine L’Engle[2] and a selection from the Book of Common Prayer.

NOTES:
[1] Source: Poetry Foundation
[2] Advent Poems (or the 12 days of Christmas poetry)

Quit social media

This goes against conventional and digital age wisdom, but Cal Newport[1] has a very good point. It is worth considering and implementing.

NOTES:

[1] Cal Newport, “Quit Social Media. Your Career May Depend on It.” New York Times, Nov. 19, 2016 accessed December 1, 2017.
https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/20/jobs/quit-social-media-your-career-may-depend-on-it.html

 

Poetry reading list for National Poetry Month, part three

Beanstreet coffeehouse, July 2005

Our paths first met at open mic night at Beanstreet café during a time of national crisis and local transition. The aftermath of 9/11 brought a lot of poets and singer songwriters to open mics for reasons of catharsis and later to protest.

But Barbie Angell[1] brought something different to the Beanstreet musicians and poets. Part Dorothy Parker, part Shel Silverstein, Barbie Angell became a regular favorite of scene and a poetic force.

We first met around the time my book Late Night Writing[2] was published. I was working hard on new material and trying it out on the open mic crowd. We exchanged a few conversations and notes at that time and then we lost track of each other for a couple years.

Beanstreet dramatically closed. The poetry scene was adrift for awhile. Eventually the Courtyard Gallery off Walnut Street filled the space. And that is where Barbie and I reconnected. From those late nights at the Courtyard Gallery open mics until my departure from Asheville, we spent a lot of time sharing poetry, discussing literary world domination, challenging and encouraging each other about all things regarding a poets life.

Roasting Questions,[3] her collection of poems and illustrations, was released a few years ago. We talked much about that publication and the supporting book tour.

Though our poetic styles were different we still sought to encourage one another toward success.

There was one night I remember in particular. Two different events were going on in Asheville and she was to read poetry at one while I read at another. She picked me up at my house, drove downtown, and after the separate events we met up at Sazerac for refreshments. We talked about the night’s events, avoided how jealous we were of the others’ success and then she drove me back home. That is what friends do.

That is a glimpse into the story behind this short poem. With friends like Barbie, you have the strength to walk further, to try harder, and to be better.

NOTES:

[1Read all about Barbie Angell: http://www.barbieangell.com/about-barbie-angell/
[2Late Night Writing is still available in print. Contact me for details. Or you can purchase an e-book version here: https://www.amazon.com/Late-Night-Writing-Matthew-Mulder/dp/1932852204
[3Find out more about Barbie’s book, Roasting Questions: http://www.barbieangell.com/roasting-questions/

Poetry reading list for National Poetry Month, part two

Historic Battery Park Apartments, Asheville, North Carolina

Historic Battery Park Apartments, Asheville, North Carolina

As stated last week, I will continue the reading list for National Poetry Month even though it is May 1st. April was a brutal month. Though the plan was to compose thirty days of posts in April, the work/life balance — or chaos — of my life prohibited meeting that goal. But why restrict poetry to one month, right?

Some of you know this, others may not, but there is a lot of labor involved if you put your hand to the practice and turn of poetry. There was a lot of hard work and late nights at cafés, open mics and taverns and copious amounts of coffee and hours of mic time that provided me the opportunity to read poems at an art gallery — the Flood Gallery Fine Art Center.

Flood Gallery Fine Art Center, February 2007

The Flood Gallery Fine Art Center[1] organized a poetry reading series that featured local poets. That evening marked a milestone — in my mind. Before that night at the Flood Gallery, the poets — Britt Kaufmann, Brian Sneeden, Barbara Gravelle and myself — were barely familiar with each other. But something alchemical happened during the reading.

Britt Kaufmann’s Belonging was published sometime after that reading.[2] I remember Britt emailing me drafts of the poems prior to publication as well as discussing the nuances of navigating publishing challenges. Barbara Gravelle has published several books of poetry.[3] Her collection of Greek island poems came together before my eyes. One afternoon we looked at illustrations and poems side by side to consider the flow of art and poetry. Brian Sneeden has several forthcoming books of translations and poetry.[4] The first time I heard him read his work was at Malaprop’s Bookstore/Cafe for a Traveling Bonfires event.

Barbara, Brian and myself went on to form a poetic collective called the Rooftop Poets. We collaborated on an invitation-only event of music and poetry at the private ballroom of the Historic Battery Park Apartments. Attendees were given a commemorative, limited edition anthology of our poems. There were a few more public gatherings of the Rooftop Poets, but for me the treasure was sharing our compositions privately. Discussing everything from modern Greek poetry to religion to archeology to feminism to poetry to local gossip as well other aspects of life. I greatly miss that face-to-face time with these friends.

Shortly before my departure from Asheville,[5] I sat in a side room of a wine bar on a Sunday afternoon. The room was filled with aspiring and novice poets. We went around the room reading poems. At the conclusion of the readings I overheard a few people commenting about the Rooftop Poets. They discussed — even mythologized — who the Rooftop Poets were, what they did, how many people attended a private reading, what happened at that reading and so on and so forth. The eavesdropping made me smiled. I did not correct factual errors. I walked to the main bar. Someone bought me a beer. We talked about employment and jazz and all things Asheville. And I left.

These poets and friends made in impact in my life — as well as the local and regional community.

NOTES:

[1Flood Gallery Fine Art Center poetry reading. http://www.floodgallery.org/poetryinthepresence.html
[2Read more about Britt Kaufmann and her work as a poet and playwright. http://www.brittkaufmann.com/poetry
[3Some of Barbara’s books are out of print, but worth the read if you can find them. Here’s a link to one of her published poems: http://www.salomemagazine.com/search.php?search=1
[5The reason for leaving my adopted hometown of Asheville, North Carolina is captured in this article, “Why I Left Asheville,” published in The Asheville Blade: http://ashevilleblade.com/?p=306

 

 

Poem 7: Always Departing

Poem 7: Always Departing