Archive for ‘Best of the First Ten Years’


“Young man in a quiet place, got a hawk on his arm…”

Ten years ago today, I cobbled together “Quid Plura?” without any clear notion of what it should be. More than 600 posts and 1,600 comments later, this site has become a sort of vade nobiscum about medievalism, formal poetry, and other bookish pursuits. Even as blogging has gone the way of ham radio or dial-up BBSes, I love that my online hermitage is placidly old-fashioned: the site crashes a few times a month, and my only concession to changing times has been to add a search box to the sidebar on the right. (That was year nine’s big tweak.) Traffic has always been modest, but over the years this thing has allowed me to meet so many new friends, quirky writers, and kindred spirits that you’ll rarely hear me gripe about hosting costs, technical headaches, or the eclipse of the medium by pithy and hollow alternatives.

Loved ones frequently accuse me of being shy about self-promotion, so let me do ten years of catching up.

If you’re new to this blog, here’s what it’s about: I write about American medievalism, our efforts to continue, revive, or imitate the European Middle Ages and use that era for our own purposes, both malevolent and benign. At the core of “Quid Plura?” are more than 160 blog posts on this rather niche preoccupation. Why are there unicorns in a 1959 brassiere advertisement? What’s so “gothic” about American Gothic? What’s with the grotesques on a Delaware pharmacy? Are there really traces of the medieval on the Appalachian Trail? What hath Harriet Tubman to do with Joan of Arc? What’s with that castle in Baton Rouge? Or that Gothic synagogue in Georgia? Framing the world around us with the right questions can bring long-neglected details into focus, sometimes literally; that’s why I tried to photograph American medievalism with a clunky antique Polaroid.

And yes, I’ve used this blog for far more eccentric projects. It took me four years, but I read and reviewed all of Lloyd Alexander’s non-Prydain books. Three years of formal poems about the National Cathedral gargoyles resulted in a book they now sell at their gift shop, although following up the gargoyles with a yearlong medieval-inspired poem about moving from the city to the country tested the patience of longtime readers. Blogs have become uncool, but this is what they’ll always do best: give us places to show off our willfully unmarketable writing and uncommercial creative projects. It sure beats handing over our personal lives to vast social-media corporations with nothing but strife in return.

That said, you never can predict what will brighten the Internet’s disembodied eyeballs. Tens of thousands of readers have stumbled upon my 2007 take on Indiana Jones and the best thing Charlemagne never said and my 2013 defense of the much-maligned textbook from Dead Poets Society. New readers find those posts every day.

Yet I wish posts on other subjects had gotten more attention: the science-fiction writer forgotten by her alma mater, the Charlemagne scholar who got her Ph.D at 66, the architect who told us to move back into medieval walled towns, the ambiguous angels at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, and the obscure Langston Hughes and T.S. Eliot poems I “rediscovered.” On a slow day at the office, I invite you to go nuts with the search bar or browse the subject tags on the sidebar to the right. If you’ve made it this far, you’re sure to find more here to like.

Above all, though, I hope you’ll read my reviews of small-press poetry books and do their authors a favor by buying the ones that strike your fancy:

  • E.C. Hansen’s The Epic of Clair, about a resourceful teen who survives the end of the world by becoming a messenger for witches in St. Paul, Minnesota.
  • Thaliad, a brilliant short epic by Marly Youmans about children who rebuild civilization in upstate New York after a fiery apocalypse.
  • Science And, Diane Furtney’s difficult but deeply moving book of science-inspired verse.
  • New Crops from Old Fields, a collection of work by eight medievalist poets.
  • Mid Evil, Maryann Corbett’s prayer for inspiration, confidence, purpose, and grace.
  • Need-Fire, Becky Gould Gibson’s poems about the lives of two important women in seventh-century Yorkshire.
  • To the House of the Sun, Tim Miller’s massive, challenging, disturbing, and deeply humane epic poem about vengeance and grace during the Civil War.

According to my site statistics, mirabile dictu, I still have regular readers. I know only a few of you, but I’m grateful to all of you—the lurkers, the critics, the poets, the scholars, the ghosts. If I have my way, even though our possible futures are unthinkably distant, I’ll still be here in another ten years, writing about medievalism and poetry in my rare spare moments and chasing whatever unforeseeable whims send me hacking through the brambles of my own imagination. Words aren’t precious; I don’t understand why all writers don’t have blogs for catching the sheer overflow of ideas, but I thank you for visiting mine. I may never post on a regular schedule, but I’ll offer you this: whatever turns up here you’ll never find anywhere else.