As part of my recent visit to Hillsdale College, where I read from my forthcoming book, The Violent and the Fallen, I gave a short interview to the campus paper, which has just been published.  At the end of the interview, I claim the following, which I hope is applicable to all traditions of genuinely human work, not just the literary:

I would say that poetry is a craft, and as a craft, it is something whose traditions and practices require mastery. They are going to have to be discovered in fits and starts, by inspiration, sometimes just by luck, and sometimes by grace. But they probably won’t come ever if there isn’t the basic initiation into a tradition of craft work already in place in you. So craft first.

You can read the rest here.

And you can purchase your copy of The Violent and the Fallen here.  This is the last week of Finishing Line Press’s advance sales promotion for the book, and all who help support the press and make this book’s publication possible will be rewarded in heaven (I believe . . . don’t quote me on that).

Local Culture
Local Culture
Local Culture
Local Culture
Previous articleWhat You Need to Know About Dwight Macdonald
Next articleThe Rhetoric of War Powers
James Matthew Wilson
James Matthew Wilson is Associate Professor in the Department of Humanities and Augustinian Traditions at Villanova University. An award-winning scholar of philosophical-theology and literature, he has authored dozens of essays, articles, and reviews on subjects ranging from art, ethics, and politics, to meter and poetic form, from the importance of local culture to the nature of truth, goodness, and beauty. Wilson is also a poet and critic of contemporary poetry, whose work appears regularly in such magazines and journals as First Things, Modern Age, The New Criterion, Dappled Things, Measure, The Weekly Standard, Front Porch Republic, The Raintown Review, and The American Conservative. He has published five books, including most recently, a collection of poems, Some Permanent Things and a monograph, The Catholic Imagination in Modern American Poetry (both Wiseblood Books, 2014). Raised in the Great Lakes State, baptised in the parish of St. Thomas Aquinas, seasoned by summers on Lake Wawasee (Indiana), and educated under the Golden Dome, Wilson is scion of a family of Hoosiers dating back to the early nineteenth century, and an offspring of Southside Chicago Poles whose tavern kept the city wet through the Depression (and prohibition) years.  He now lives under the same sentence of reluctant exile as many another native son of the Midwest, but has dug himself in for good on the margins of the Main Line in Pennsylvania with his beautiful wife, dangerous daughter, and saintly sons. For information on Wilson's scholarship and a selection of his published work, click here. See books written and recommended by James Matthew Wilson.


  1. Well said, sir. As a woodworker I endorse this claim wholeheartedly. It’s been said (by Ananda Coomeraswamy, I think) that the word “harmony”– related, I believe, to “ars,” root of “art” and which for all our high-falutin’ talk about it simply means “joining” — originated among carpenters to describe a building that’s simply well-joined and composed. Our delight in the bare, irreducible facts of putting things together is, even at the most elemental craft level, evidence of our god-like nature as creative creatures, and is the necessary basis of all the arts, from low to high.

Comments are closed.