Monthly Archives: December 2013

2013 Melts Away

A John Clare poem to bid farewell to 2013.

Posted in Clare (John) | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Standing in a Long Unemployment Line

Poet Philip Levine knows what it is to stand in a long line looking for work.

Posted in Levine (Philip) | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

In the Beginning Was the Word

The opening of the Book of John is poetry of the first order.

Posted in Bible | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The Return of King Peyton

The excitement over Peyton Manning is like that of the townspeople for Thorin Oakenshield in “The Hobbit.”

Posted in Tolkien (J.R.R.) | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Unemployment & “the Undeserving Poor”

Are those who will lose unemployment insurance tomorrow deserving or undeserving of support? George Bernard Shaw has something to say about that.

Posted in Shaw (George Bernard) | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Christmas Bird Count from Santa’s Sleigh

This joyous Scott Bates birdwatching poem imagines Santa’s Blitzen involved in Audubon’s annual tally.

Posted in Bates (Scott) | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Where Are the Games of Yesteryear?

Christmas I shared “Ballad of the Games of Yesteryear” this past spring when my father temporarily lapsed into dementia. But he wrote it as a Christmas poem and so I’m posting it again as I mourn the first Christmas spent without him. Now that he is dead, the poem contains special meaning, echoing as it […]

Posted in Villon (Francois) | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Dickens, We Need You (and Also FDR)

With unemployment insurance set to run out next week, it’s time to invoke Charles Dickens’ “Christmas Carol.” FDR did so.

Posted in Dickens (Charles) | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Duck Dynasty Patriarch as Pap Finn

Patriarch Phil Robertson of “Duck Dynasty” shares certain characteristics with Pap Finn.

Posted in Twain (Mark) | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

Lights As If Out of Nowhere

Joseph Brodsky wrote a series of Christmas poems, including this one

Posted in Brodsky (Joseph) | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Reflecting upon Football’s Carnage

What may be the greatest poem about American football focuses on its violence.

Posted in Wright (James) | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Charlotte’s “Web Poetry” Saves Lives

In “Charlotte’s Web,” Charlotte’s poetry saves Wilbur’s life.

Posted in White (E. B.) | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Letters from Mrs. Santa Claus

Two Scott Bates Christmas poems show Santa on the move, thanks to the melting of the polar ice caps.

Posted in Bates (Scott) | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The True Meaning of the Holy-Days

The seabird in this Scott Bates poem captures the true meaning of the holidays.

Posted in Bates (Scott) | 2 Comments

Reconnecting with the Forest Spirits

Here’s a story of how Wordsworth allows a Myanmar student reconnect with the forest spirits of her childhood.

Posted in Wordsworth (William) | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Teaching Lit Crit as Autobiography

Literary criticism can be a form of autobiography. Knowing that can improve our teaching.

Posted in Wilde (Oscar) | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Weeping, We Hold Him Fast Tonight

Christina Rossetti invokes Jesus’ parable of the ten virgins awaiting the bridegroom in this Advent poem.

Posted in Rossetti (Christina) | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Kicker

To honor Matt Praters 64-yard field goal, here’s William Meissner poem about a “Kicker’s Last Steps.”

Posted in Meissner (William) | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Feeling the Pinch During the Holidays

Barbara Kingsolver gives a vivid depiction of life for the working poor during the holiday season.

Posted in Kingsolver (Barbara) | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Female Bildungsromans for College Grads

One of my students, studying the female bildungsroman, is studying Salinger’s “Franny,” Lena Dunham’s “Girls,” and other works.

Posted in Salinger (J. D.) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Lit’s Ten Most Likable Characters

My top ten likable characters.

Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Think of Writing Essays as Method Acting

To teach writing about literature, think of your students as method actors.

Posted in Bronte (Charlotte) | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

If Oz Became Modern Day America

This Scott Bates poem revisits the Land of Oz and finds that modern America has broken out.

Posted in Bates (Scott) | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Dear God, Drive These Cruel Doubts Away

Anne Bronte’s moving poem shows her wrestling with deep spiritual doubts.

Posted in Bronte (Anne) | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Crossing (or Not) the Hellespont

I revisited Byron’s poem about swimming the Hellespont/Dardanelles after a friend tried the feat.

Posted in Byron (Lord Gordon) | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Mandela Inspired the World

An Elizabeth Alexander poem to remember Nelson Mandela and a past post on how he turned to Shakespeare in prison.

Posted in Alexander (Elizabeth), Shakespeare (William) | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Debating Whether Lit Is Useless

I take issue with a “New Yorker” blog on whether or not literature can be considered “useful.”

Posted in Shakespeare (William) | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

How to Make Your Dull Life Seem Magical

Does your life seem one long grind? Let Mary Oliver help you see it differently?

Posted in Oliver (Mary) | Tagged , | 2 Comments

GOP Whites Splitting? Huck Finn Says No

If “Huck Finn” has predictive value, the class tensions within today’s GOP will be papered over by racism.

Posted in Twain (Mark) | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Life for the Poor Is No Crystal Stair

NYT columnist Charles Blow appears to be channeling Langston Hughes as he gives advice to the poor.

Posted in Hughes (Langston) | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

He Will Come Like Crying in the Night

Christmas hope does not come without deep struggle at the darkest time of the year.

Posted in Williams (Rowan) | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

  • AVAILABLE NOW!

  • 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.

  • Sign up for weekly newsletter

    Your email will not be shared or sold.
    * = required field

    powered by MailChimp!
  • Twitter Authentication data is incomplete