The topics of City of Rhetoric vary widely; as a writer, I never quite know what I’m going to write about next – and when I’m writing, the posts always seem to take on a life of their own.  But all of them, in one way or another, are about place: about living on earth – about movement, memory, habitation, preservation, and design.

There are long-term projects that weave in and out of these posts:

1. I think often of my family and where I come from in North Carolina.  I haven’t lived there in 30 years; and yet, in my dreams, I can still feel the soft breeze of home on my face.  I’ve written a long, three-part post about my family’s past in Rowan County, NC, and another, shorter one about Doughton Park in Alleghany County.  I want to write also about Elm City and Wilson Lane.  Even when writing about other places, like Knoxville, I find it difficult to keep Raleigh out.

2. I am an avid walker and biker.  I love to take long hikes and rides – partly for the exercise, for the joy of self-propelled movement, partly for the vantage that walking and biking give me on the world.  In his essay on “Walking,” Thoreau writes about the inexhaustibility of one’s environs when approached on foot:

There is in fact a sort of harmony discoverable between the capabilities of the landscape within a circle of ten miles’ radius, or the limits of an afternoon walk, and the three score years and ten of human life.  It will never become quite familiar to you.

I dream of taking longer and longer walks and rides, of seeing more and more of the world on foot or by bike, knowing it deeper and deeper.  You can see that impulse here, here, and here.


3. I am constantly “mapping” the books I read, the art I look at, the music I listen to.  There are blog posts here about the places of

4. I am increasingly interested in and committed to environmental sustainability.  A low-level anxiety about automobiles runs through these pieces.  My devotion to public transportation, to pedestrian-friendly urban design, to sustainable living can be seen here and here.


5. I write often about Northampton and Amherst, Massachusetts, the countryside around them, and the other places of my everyday life.  In some of the posts, I find myself involved in local controversies about place (like here and here); in others, I am simply trying to learn more about the world around me – like here.

For me, this blog is not just a space for sharing random reactions and comments.  For one thing, it’s themed around a very particular set of issues, concerns, and topics.  For another, it’s a space in which I hope the individual posts will build on one another, weave in and out of one another, even accumulate into long-term projects that might contribute somehow, in some way, to a better world for us all.

Comments?  Reply below or send me an email by clicking here.

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