I met writer Okla Elliott online – well, on Facebook, to be precise.
I’m regularly daunted by his output, which he posts about regularly: His work has appeared in Harvard Review, The Hill, Huffington Post, Indiana Review, The Literary Review, New Letters, Prairie Schooner, and he had a “notable essay” in Best American Essays 2015. His books include From the Crooked Timber (short fiction), The Cartographer’s Ink (poetry), The Doors You Mark Are Your Own (a coauthored novel), Blackbirds in September: Selected Shorter Poems of Jürgen Becker (translation), Bernie Sanders: The Essential Guide (nonfiction). The last book has gotten a lot of attention this year, for obvious reasons. Oh yes, and he’s currently working on Pope Francis: The Essential Guide (nonfiction, forthcoming), from an unusual p.o.v.: “I’m probably technically an agnostic, but I am a kind of Tolstoyan/Buddhist/existentialist/leftist-Catholic agnostic, so a theological and philosophical mutt.”
Then, suddenly, his intimidating output briefly plummeted to zero. He fell ill. … like, really near-death ill. A few weeks ago, he was hospitalized for a mysterious illness that turned out to be “diabetic acidosis.”
Nevertheless, he took some unusual medicine. He turned to Gregorian chant. As he explained in his Facebook status: “I listen to the monks of the Abbey of Notre Dame singing in Latin every night for an hour before I go to sleep. It’s oblique immersion research for my pope book; it’s relaxing and enchanting; and it’s just really pleasant. I recommend it highly. I kinda zone out and/or kinda meditate and/or think about random crap, letting my mind float wherever it will. Anyway…this is a pointless status, as are so many, but there you have it…Oh, and it’s streaming on Amazon Prime, so you can listen for free, if you have interest.” It’s on Amazon Prime here.