The Local Hive (with a giveaway)

Creating buzz around a book can produce stingers or honey. Fortunately, the artistic community in Minneapolis/St. Paul has been good company. The folks below have supported Triptych in various ways and I’m glad to recommend their work for some cross-pollination. Also, we’ll do our first giveaway this week introducing the work of calligrapher Allegra Rose.

“Poetry, says one poet, is where word and world intersect. Triptych, a poet’s memoir, is such a place. In finely crafted, incisive language, the work probes the possibilities for meaning and self-acceptance in a world where neither comes easily, especially, perhaps, for a woman and a believer. That the story is sometimes unsettling is simply testimony to its honesty and insight.”

Daniel Taylor, author most recently of Death Comes for the Deconstructionist, which won Christianity Today’s 2016 Award for Fiction. Dan’s other books include The Skeptical Believer and In Search of Sacred Places. Besides saying kind things (“a poet’s memoir”!), Dan has helped me navigate the business of publishing by offering feedback on contracts, encouragement in editorial exchanges, and mentoring through the details with trademark good humor.

“It’s the author’s voice—incisive, focused, and most of all, honest, that pulls us into this memoir. We are caught in her honorable, heart-wrenching struggles to understand and stay true to her faith, to come to terms with her own passion, to make peace with embodying and being both a woman of faith, who prays with intensity, who wants to live a moral life, and being a woman who also wants a life of ardor, a life blessed with easy communication and passionate connection with her partner. This is a book about struggle and grace, blessings and confusion, a book that shines with the author’s desire to make clear, both to readers and herself, what kind of life, what kind of faith, what kind of love is worth claiming and fighting for.”

Deborah Keenan, author of ten collections of poetry and winner of the Minnesota Book Award. Deborah’s most recent collection is so she had a world, a collaboration with painter Susan Solomon. Deborah’s inspiration during my MFA studies, guidance on my thesis– which was an early (bumbling) draft of Triptych— and the rhythms of her own poetry deeply influenced the lyric voice of the book. She offered many of the ‘first permissions’ I needed to brave the work.

“Sometimes we rhyme slow. Sometimes we rhyme quick.
Lovers of: pressing onward. Haters of: the game.”

A farmland triptych from Paper Antler:

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Paper Antler is dynamic photography duo Jonny + Michelle Hoffner. Their work reaches clients from Doomtree Records to Glamour to Pixar, and they shoot the most beautiful wedding photographs you’ve ever seen (I promise). Paper Antler has allowed their images to accompany many of my essays and to appear in Triptych’s Instagram feed. I want to be like Jonny + Michelle when I grow up: making beautiful images, and full of generosity and grace.

“Let’s start something beautiful.”

This week we introduce the creations of Allegra Rose, an emerging designer whose quiet, lovely work helps us focus on daily beauties. Allegra has hand-lettered five phrases from Triptych that will be available as 8′ x 8′ prints on fine paper.



Click the links to see lines graced by Allegra’s hand, then follow the directions below to enter our giveaway for the print featured above.

To enter the giveaway:

  1. Follow @triptych_memoir, @TriptychMemoir
  2. Tag 3 friends in a comment
  3. For an extra entry, repost the image with #TriptychPrintGiveaway
  4. Giveaway will be open until Friday


The First Sunday of Advent


I’ve become convinced that I’d be a better person if I made more art with my children. The act of creating, not for completion or accomplishment, but for the slick of paint, the jazz of color, the wind of air over twirling arms is somehow the center of being. Making art— not for a paycheck or prestige, not of duty or deficiency— is somehow transcendent and elementally human.

When I paint by myself, I justify the mess by the product. There’s flour in my hair because I made a nephew’s birthday cake. There’s thread in the carpet because my son outgrew his pajamas. Making things still gives me a splash of fulfillment, but it’s not immersion in the current. I’m not cleansed, scoured, buffeted, carried by refinishing even the most beautiful desk.

When I paint with my children, the mess isn’t for anything. The mess is the thing. I’m as often frustrated by this as inspired. What do you mean you’re done? I just finished getting everything out.

Greg Pennoyer, project director of the international art exhibition Incarnation: A Recovery of Meaning, guesses most of us adults have difficulty relating to Christmas after the wonder of childhood in any way other than materialism or sentimentality. He thinks this might have something to do with our aversion to messes:

“The more I reflected…the more I realized that my own temptation to sentimentalize Christmas involved turning away from the messiness of my disenchanted, adult life.” But Christmas is “the story of a God who does not disdain this world, despite its frailty, ambiguities, and messiness.”

This advent I hope to see it: that the mess is the thing. That I’m as often going to be frustrated by this as inspired. And I hope I can manage to voice something in my soul other than, What do you mean it’s done? I just finished getting everything out.



A little study in awe and majesty. (Worth watching full screen– on the biggest screen you can find. Preferably on the actual heavens. But if you’re in a cubical, this might be the next best thing on a Monday morning to those actual heavens.)