Monthly Archives: July 2013

Jane Austen to Grace £10 Note

The good and the bad of Austen appearing on British £10 note

Posted in Austen (Jane) | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Teaching Kids the Language of the Ages

Stories, whether fact or fiction, convey deep wisdom to children.

Posted in Tilghman (Christopher) | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Sinclair’s “Jungle” & ACA Challenges

Upton Sinclair’s “Jungle” anticipates some of need for Obamacare, along with some of the challenges it is facing.

Posted in Sinclair (Upton) | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

God Speaks to Us Before We Are

When we are plunged into our bodies, we lose connection with God. In this poem, Rilke explores how to reconnect.

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Take Me Out to the Lynch Mob

A baseball poem by William Carlos Williams captures well the two sides of a crowd.

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The Transcendental Meaning of Pizza

Scott Bates describes the sacramental dimensions of devouring pizza.

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Is Atwood’s Dystopia Coming True?

Atwood’s dystopian “Handmaid’s Tale” argues forcefully that women must maintain control over their own bodies.

Posted in Atwood (Margaret) | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Poets Unacknowledged Legislators? Maybe

A debate on whether poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.

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Does Moby Dick Await Us?

Is America headed for the same fate as the Pequod?

Posted in Melville (Herman) | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Whoever Degrades Another Degrades Me

Whitman’s “Song of Myself” calls us to imagine the experience of the Other, just as Obama asked us to imagine the perspective of young black men.

Posted in Whitman (Walt) | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Did Martha Deserve Her Scolding?

A wonderful U. A. Fanthorpe poem tells Mary-Martha story from Mary’s point of view.

Posted in Fanthorpe (U. A.), Kipling (Rudyard) | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

A Pitching Poem to Honor a Pitching Great

Gerald Hern distilled a manager’s dilemme to its essence in his poem about Spahn and Sain.

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Use the Force, Luke–of Shakespeare

Ian Doescher’s new book imagining “Star Wars” as Shakespeare would have written it is very, very clever.

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Tolstoyan Therapy for Mental Illness

Guest poster Lucy Fuggle explains how Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” helped her cope with her PTSD.

Posted in Tolstoy (Leo) | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

No More Privacy–And We Don’t Care

We no longer fiercely guide our privacy, as did the worlds of Austen, Trollope, Thoreau, and Melville.

Posted in Boswell (James), Johnson (Samuel), Melville (Herman), Thoreau (Henry David), Trollope (Anthony) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Vague Identity Adjectives Killed Trayvon

Novelist Susan Bender says that a literary understanding would have prevented the Trayvon Martin killing.

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Trayvon Was an Invisible Man

The racial profiling at the heart of the Trayvon Martin killing is captured nowhere better than in Ralph Ellison’s “Invisible Man.”

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i put him all into my arms

e. e. cummings’ “man who had fallen among thieves” brings the Good Samaritan parable uncomfortably close to home.

Posted in cummings (e.e.) | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Victorie, No Gory Bed, for Andy

A Burns poems will serve to honor Andy Murray’s Wimbledon victory while a Susan Bright description of Martina Navratilova applies to woman winner Marion Bartoli.

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Medical Schools Should Require Poetry

Poetry should be required in medical schools for its ability to teach empathy.

Posted in Campo (Rafael) | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

The Night Father Fell Out of Bed

I take a page from James Thurber and the author of Madeleine as I describe “The Night My Father Fell Out of Bed.”

Posted in Belloc (Hilaire), Bemelmans (Ludwig), Thurber (James) | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Getting Tied Down in Syria

Is there a danger that U.S. involvement in Syria will lead to a Gulliver-like disaster?

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Lesson of War: Fear + Fear = Hate

Two Scott Bates poems get at the dark days in America following World War II.

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Kingsolver on Anti-Communist Hysteria

Barbara Kingsolver’s novel “Lacuna” warns us what happens when surveillance of innocent people gets used to ruin careers.

Posted in Kingsolver (Barbara) | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

What Rises So Far Above into the Light?

Denise Levertov’s poem about moving amongst tall trees becomes a meditation on life and afterlife.

Posted in Levertov (Denise) | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Light Verse Honoring Wimbledon Finalists

A new “Sports Poem” blog features lyrics about tennis players Murray, Djokovic, and del Potro.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Egypt’s Coup Is Like Moliere’s “Tartuffe”

The sudden turnabout in Egypt is like the ending of Moliere’s “Tartuffe”–for good and for ill.

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America, An Immigrant Nation

Opponents of the Dream Act should reread the lines on the Statue of Liberty.

Posted in Lazarus (Emma) | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

A Sleepy Bird Dog Ballad

Here’s a fun poem about a sleepy hunting dog, written many years ago by Scott Bates in the regional dialect tradition.

Posted in Bates (Scott) | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Sometimes Dreams in Novels Come True

As we celebrate the Supreme Court overturning DOMA, it’s time to revisit Forster’s novel “Maurice.”

Posted in Forster (E.M.) | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Lit Unlocks Cultural & Linguistic Barriers

Teaching abridged classics to students with limited English, this graduate instructor discovered that much more came through than she expected.

Posted in Shakespeare (William) | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments


  • Literature is as vital to our lives as food and shelter. Stories and poems help us work through the challenges we face, from everyday irritations to loneliness, heartache, and death. Literature is meant to mix it up with life. This website explores how it does so.

    Please feel free to e-mail me [rrbates (at) smcm (dot) edu]. I would be honored to hear your thoughts and questions about literature.

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