The Gist

I am Bobby Lehew: restive writer, ardent reader, fledgling novelistreluctant poetfrequent speaker, and bibliomaniac. This site is my personal workshop, idea laboratory, commonplace scrapbook, and playroom.


Bill Gates once wrote that ‘People overestimate what can be done in a year but underestimate what can be done in a decade.’ This site then, is also my decennial pursuit: an as-I-have-time-for-it foray into accomplishing a few creative goals over the next decade, goals that have been nagging me for years (my own little stay against confusion, an antidote to rotting in the wasteland of regret).

Even though protocol insists I ‘tell you who I am’ in this section, I do so with a disclaimer: you (and I) are far more complex than the sum total of our experiences. We are more than our titles, more than our careers, more than our familial roles, more than our failures, more than our successes, more than our cumulative social likeability (or lack thereof) and moreover, we have ‘an epic longing to be more than what we are’. [1]

However, since it seems few of us cannot contextualize without labels (myself included!) then I have completed this section with the resignation that if I am to be labeled, I suppose it is best that I do the labeling. Here is a larger patchwork quilt description in question-and-answer format, a brief attempt to provide a composite:

What’s with the branding iron?

I grew up on a ranch and have always lived in the heart of cowboy country (Texas/Oklahoma). A disproportionate dose of western nostalgia is in my blood.

Why do you have this site?

I wanted a central repository where I could publish any creation, whether an essay, a miscellaneous thought, a photograph, a presentation, a book review, or even a poem. I also use this site as a place to post highlights from my adventures in reading (much like many use tumblr, facebook, or their ancient equivalent, the commonplace book). In antiquity, this type of collection was known as a hypomnêmata, "personal notes taken on a day-to-day basis." It is a motley collection as calico as its owner. (Skeptics and scoffers: please refer to my post, What Would You Tell a Twenty-Year Younger You?).

What do you write about?

Life as a bibliophilic nomad. My daily dalliance with letters. ProductivityCreativity. Storytelling. Since my conversion from an annual to a perennial, I try to heed the twofold directive of Annie Dillard and Mary Oliver, to 'keep my mind on what matters ... which is mostly standing still and learning to be astonished' (Oliver) and then turn reflection into action: ‘You were set here to give voice to this, your astonishment’ (Dillard). 

Why is writing so important to you?

Writing is my preferred form of expression but I’ll defer to my elders: Cheever wrote ‘to try and make sense of his life’, both Joan Didion and E. M. Forster echoed a similar sentiment, ‘How do I know what I think until I see what I say?’ (a line Wallace Stegner cleverly uses in the opening of one of my favorite novels, All The Live Little Things). Italo Calvino echoes, claiming literature 'a search for myself, an attempt to understand what I am.' Don DeLillo considers writing a ‘concentrated form of thinking’. Flannery O’Connor stated similarly, ‘I write to discover what I know’, Natalie Goldberg says we 'are writing because we love the world.' Flaubert wrote ‘The art of writing is the art of discovering what you believe’. But Polish poet, Czeslaw Milosz, sums up (for me) the reason for living at the point of a pen (or, um ... keyboard):

‘On one side there is luminosity, trust, faith, the beauty of the earth; on the other side, darkness, doubt, unbelief, the cruelty of the earth, the capacity of people to do evil. When I write, the first side is true; when I do not write, the second is. Thus, I have to write, to save myself from disintegration. Not much philosophy in this statement, but at least it has been verified by experience.’*

*Akin to Wallace Steven's sentiment: 'Poetry is one of the sanctions of life and I write it because it helps me to accept and validate my experience.'

Yeah, but … why poetry?

After years of nursing a private poetry obsession, I decided to go public. The worst that can happen is I’m labeled a flake, best that can happen is someone will enjoy my poetry. There is no money in poetry. Poetry and poverty are inexorably intertwined. Owen Barfield (who influenced both Tolkien and C. S. Lewis), wrote that "poetry is a progressive incarnation of life in consciousness," in other words: we are all poets.


Any other obsessions?

I am an amateur (French: lover of) barista, a curious culinaire, and a music and art enthusiast (Greek: inspired by). Also a photog poseur (or, is that fauxtographer?). With the exception of the self-portrait on this page, all photos on this website were taken by me. But mostly, to the annoyance of those around me, I'm a word nerd.

Who are your favorite authors?

Wendell Berry, Willa Cather, Isak Dinesen, Jim Harrison, Wallace Stegner, Jorges Luis Borges, Annie Dillard, Graham Greene, Joseph Conrad, W. Somerset Maugham, N. Scott Momaday, John Donne, Rilke, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Frederico Garcia Lorca, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Carlos Fuentes, Frederick Buechner, Shusaku Endo, Czeslaw Milosz, Octavio Paz, Wallace Stevens, Hart Crane, Elizabeth Bishop, Carl Sandburg, Jack Gilbert, Gretel Ehrlich, Milan Kundera, Robert Frost, Pablo Neruda, John Kinsella

Don’t you think asking yourself questions and answering them is a bit smarmy?