Author Archives: Catherine Staples

“Dear Henry”

“Dear Henry” appears in the current edition of The Southern Review, Summer 2018.

“Dear Henry”: Thoreau’s brother John died in his arms from tetanus. The loss threw him into a depression so deep that he developed all the symptoms of lock-jaw. The epigraph is from The Letters of Ralph Waldo Emerson.

To begin to understand how Thoreau has been misunderstood, read this interview with Laura Dassow Walls, author of the latest biography of Thoreau.

 

“The Arrow of the Angel” and “Oster, Oxter” in Kenyon Review Online

Read and hear these two poems in the Kenyon Review Online.

The title of the first is from a letter by Ralph Waldo Emerson who was writing about his grievously ill brother. A note on lichen: it is not a single organism, but a symbiosis between a fungus and an alga. The fungus cannot live alone; together they thrive.

“Oster, Oxter” incorporates etymology and sentence fragments from the Oxford English Dictionary’s entry for “oxter.”

Review of Henry Beston’s Biography

My Review of Henry Beston’s Biography in The Massachusetts Review:

Orion on the Dunes: A Biography of Henry Beston by Daniel G. Payne (David R. Godine, 2016)

Within the protected lands of the Cape Cod National Seashore, in the small salt-box cottage we rent each summer, you step outside into a place that is simply itself. Chickadees cross above you, wind makes paths through crowns of oak and beech. The cottage—in the hold of scrub pine and sea wind—owes no small debt to writer and naturalist Henry Beston, whose magnificent book The Outermost House was one of the influences that inspired President John F. Kennedy to establish the National Seashore in 1961. Beston built his dune shack on the barrier beach at Eastham, back to the marsh, front porch opening on the Atlantic. The Outermost House chronicles the year he spent living on Cape Cod’s outer beach. His lyrical prose, naturalist’s eye, and faith in the restorative powers of the natural world for humankind mark him as a literary descendant of Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. Rachel Carson credits Beston as the only author who ever influenced her work.   …Read the full review