Berwyn, PA.  The Fine Delight Interview Series with Catholic authors, conducted by the author of the book of the same name, Nick Ripatrazone, has just posted its latest interview — with me, your humble author.  In it, I discuss verse, Catholicism, fatherhood, the theology of the body, and a number of other matters poetic, aesthetic, and ethical.  You can read the whole interview here.

In response to one question, about Dana Gioia’s new book, The Catholic Writer Today, I get to dilate on the barbarism of the contemporary academy and of much of contemporary art:

As a literary critic, I find the way literature is written and discussed in our day to be barbaric.  “Advanced” writing is almost invariably ugly and nihilistic, as it perhaps inevitably must be if its writers can trust in neither the integrity of story-telling to get at the truth nor of artistic form to manifest beauty.  Most critics corroborate this doubt by depredating art for the advancement of one form of identity politics or another; they act as if to say “all literature has designs on its reader” were all that needed to be said, and to say it is to liberate us.  The point was never even in question: of course literature has designs on us.  What we need to know is whether those designs will bring us into the presence of truth and beauty or not.  But a critic needs to know what truth and beauty are in order to make that judgment.

Truth and beauty are real whether one believes in them or not, of course, but sophistication in our day seems to consist merely in the violent denial of these things, a petulant irritation at their persistence despite our all being too smart to believe in them.  Dana’s call is primarily one that asks us to accept that, if a morbid vacuity is going to remain for the time being the dominant sensibility of artists and writers, a profound metaphysical realism and penetrating Christian vision ought also to be afforded a place.

The main subject of the interview is, of course, my new book of poems, from which I gave a reading, a somewhat scattered reading, one snowy afternoon at Villanova not too long ago, and which you may order here, or by writing to fourverseletters@gmail.com.

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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.