The work of poets, of writers, is the work of invention, a mystical undertaking, an artisan's craft. It requires attention aimed not only at the superficial meaning of phrases, but also at achieving a certain subjective music corresponding to the right grouping of words, a music which spills out in the reading.

Li'telier, our online literary workshop, is not a poetry contest, and offers no cash prizes. What follows are a series of projects and exercises suggested by Casavaria to poets and to writers of daring prose. We seek to tap the taste for invention, the basic poiesis coursing through the aspirations of authors who seek to publish through Casavaria and contribute to the universal library of literature...

Thematic Explorations

11. "Numbering sands"
William Shakespeare writes in Richard II "The task he undertakes is numbering sands and drinking oceans dry..." His meaning is that a given task is near to impossible, too ambitious for the limitations of the human world; it is possible to write some beautiful and glimmering prose or verse by examining ways in which people persist in their attempts to achieve immensely complicated or seemingly unreasonable dreams, on which they depend spiritually or emotionally... [See also the forthcoming book, Numbering Sands]

10. Water Verse:
Jack Kerouac's novel Big Sur ends with a poem that relays the sound of waves crashing against the cliffs, as if they were a kind of speech. Virginia Woolf's The Waves offers a very lyrical prose, which moves in time and portrays time and circumstance in language infused with a liquid kind of energy. Try to capture water, or the meaning or movement of water, in a language that feels elemental, evocative of nature...

9. Redacted Inventions:
Go back to other pieces you've written and extract phrases that interest you. Try to piece excerpts from various works together into one new piece. Add or remove words where you want; invent based on what was there and how it works as a new whole. If you use lines from another writer: don't pass them off as your own, never plagiarize (you can use another writer's words, but do that exercise only for yourself).

8. Essays in Miniature:
The best essays contemplate a particular topic, while testing the rational viability of related ideas and achieving literary artistry in their own right: craft a poetic work in sections which act like short essays, and which follow a common thread...

7. Lyrical Numbers:
Written numbers (nineteen hundred..., "five in the afternoon") can provide a unique lyrical hue which expresses the crisis of mortal creatures facing time, a nostalgic sense of history. Focus on the meaning of dates or the weight of a particular time of day...

6. Emotional Landscapes:
Explain a terrain known through experience, places which incite vital emotional realities, a personal mythology, cherished burdens, unique sources of inspiration. Develop a sort of metaphysics of spiritual pursuit, or trace a beloved community...

5. Elegant Verses:
Try to compose verses in short, agile lines, but with a prolonged thematic exporation. No more than 4 words per line, no rhymes to end any verses, with a current that flows from metaphor to imagery, down to an original discovery of wisdom...

4. Politics of the Apocryphal, or Unsaid:
Explore themes that are difficult to express or to unfold in language, the political effect of those themes which escape description; treat the unspoken as an expression of complex psychological anxieties, not necessarily as points of controversy...

3. Driving Events:
Does an event find its impetus in any preceding occurrence? What is the precise motivation one employs to confront the everyday? Is there something which drives us to develop the formal shape of our circumstances, or our perception of them? Often times what makes the narrative of one event so stirring, poignant and captivating is that it approaches occurrence through the lens of seemingly unconnected realities that feed into it; this can apply to poetry, prose, fiction or to non-fiction reporting...

2. Ocean / World / Life:
Delve into the energy of oceans, that ceaseless coming and going that shapes our maps; with that idea, explore the artifice of what we call "the world"; touch on, or search for, the pulse of life as such, that basic energy which keeps us all going...

1. The Urgency of Flowers:
Lay out in verse, or in prose, examples of the urgent relevance of a bouquet of flowers: why in a given moment should a simple bunch of flowers carry so much meaning, so much weight? What is it that manages to express that humanity which wouldn't otherwise reveal itself effectively?

» Submit your study of one of the above themes

The Story » Joseph Robertson

When confronted with the problem of seeing into the fabric of a story, it becomes necessary to pose a new series of questions about the nature of ‘the story' as such, as an abstract impetus to speak. One might ask: Is the commentary which seeks to comprehend a fiction not also part of the fiction itself, motivated by the same unsayable patterns of light? I have ventured to include such ruminations in the composition of my own fictions, and they, in turn, have furthered my intuitions about ‘the story'. The story is not the written word, not the sequence of events thinly veiled by the written word, which also seeks to represent them; it is not the neatly told tale. Those are but the symptoms of the lurking of a story.

The story is what has yet to be told. [Keep reading...]

Carta sobre la poética versátil, o artesanal
Joseph Robertson

El momento de inspiración es tal que lo que ocurre en la página delante del poeta, es una expresión más o menos directa de lo sentido, modificado tal vez por la imaginación y por las ansias de trasladar el sentimiento a la página en blanco. Los poetas aprenden muy temprano que el sentirse inmerso en un proyecto de descubrimiento místico es tan agradable como necesario. La cuestión de estilo se trata con mucha sospecha, como si se tratara de una corrupción del verso original, puro, preciso. Y de hecho, lo es, pero lo es por la misma razón por la que el poeta busca ese estado de abstracción y contacto con el significado sin artificio... [Siga leyendo...]


Joseph Robertson

It was a memory of memories persisting
a representation of devoted labor
the idiomatic spiritual partner of a tribe
history's eye placed equally forward & 
it was guilt-laden full of meaning
time out of time & the whisper of so 
nevers tears recombinations & quietudes
the velvet-hewn patina of knowing… 
it was the narrow charge of being beyond 

[Keep reading...]

Chad Johr

The window to the soul?
Nothing more than glass.
Complete with chipped paint frame and dusty sill
It looks like any other
you have breathed on before.

And the gate to the soul?
Wrought iron posts
Fashioned with twists and a dull sharp point...

[Keep reading...]

Salvatore Poeta

I confess that at times I have sensed your presence
from behind the iris of eternity,
as you contemplate gleefully, implacably, like a muted Pan
the sacred union between shadow and light,
and not in starched hands that lift
a eucharist into the air;
rather in the faint wisp of winged DNA,
hanging in the air,
as a bird in silent flight,
before settling delicately on a stream ablaze in auroral light;
and not in the words of prophets sent by you,
false or otherwise...

[Keep reading...]

Lainey Johr

i want to ease my own fears that i have 
   for you 
and your daring venture into a world 
   you are not claiming scattered pieces of 
but are coloring and leaving your prints
touching the boundaries and using your 
   fingers like a funnel of stories 
and making connections with those 
whose textures have already left you a 
   crag to cross over 
with a feathered touch of intention and 
   wonder and hope...

[Keep reading...]

Joseph Robertson

Softening sonorous rumor
of wings of the patience
of large scavenger birds
in lemon-grey twilight
the vision of their converging
on one point in space
& musically dispersing
this strange familiar civic intrigue
a dance communicating
precisely where history will occur
this takes place within one
syncopated breath
erasing all else & teaching...

Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth.

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same.

[Keep reading...]


WRITING & NAMING: the medicine of acquiring knowledge
Joseph Robertson

Language is that point of contact in the abstract, that plane where the intellectual life within us is enabled to assert itself as part of the overall experience of living. Language is that plane where the individual self is allowed repeated attempts at manifestation. What takes place in the process of writing, in the spilling of ink or the posting of digital characters, the slip toward defining a landscape, however brief, is the sanctification of an individual, and by extension of the human condition as such...

Not every person is a writer, by trade, nor should they be, but there is something about the act of writing that serves the writing individual as if it were a medicine for selfhood, a healing venture into clean waters. Especially so when its intent is to be expressive of secret regions of the mind or to lay out new experimental vessels for such expression. [Keep reading...]

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Online Casavaria Selections
Cave Painting: essays on the making of meaning

Si nunca hubiésese escrito, Carlos Trujillo Ampuero

Un abanico de agua, Cristina Sánchez-Conejero

Ecological Humanism
The Silt-Quarry
Stone's Throw
A Mirror
Seismic Patterned
And Then Suddenly

Casavaria celebra el cuarto centenario de la novela El ingenioso hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha, con una edición de la primera parte (primavera 2005) y otra de la segunda parte (primavera 2006)...

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New Titles, Winter '05-'06
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New Titles, Spring 2005
Don Quijote de la Mancha: la novela intemporal de Miguel de Cervantes, 4 siglos después de su 1a publicación
Don Quijote de la Mancha, la Tercera parte: escritor valenciano Alberto Báez ficcionaliza nuevos documentos sobre las aventuras de Don Quijote
Poner rejas al viento: Antonio Alizo relata en su novela una vida aventurera y contrariada de comienzos del siglo XX