Monthly Archives: April 2015

Mourning Lincoln, Mourning My Son

Whitman’s mourning of Lincoln in “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d” also captures what it feels like to lose a child.

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Protesting Baltimore’s Racial Divide

The racial divide we are currently seeing in Baltimore was noted by Countee Cullen in 1925.

Posted in Cullen (Countee) | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments

In April, Frogs Shout Their Desire

In this Mary Oliver poem, frogs shout their desire and people aren’t far behind.

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The Journey of the Reader Hero

Reading literature can be compared to Joseph Campbell’s “Journey of the Hero.”

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The God of Love My Shepherd Is

George Herbert rewrites the 23rd psalm in subtle ways, turning the Lord in the “God of Love” and filling the cup with the eucharist.

Posted in Herbert (George) | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

The Making of a Literary Meal

A new anthology of “foodie lit” has recipes accompanying the poems, essays, and short stories.

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Hillary Will Be Cast as a Witch

Prepare to see Hillary Clinton cast by the GOP in the role of the Wicked Witch of the West

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Earth Day: Please Brake for Woolly Bears

Scott Bates’ Earth Day poem calls for protecting even caterpillars. After all, sometimes they grow up to be Keats’ tiger moths with their “deep damasked wings.”

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A Fatal Diagnosis, an Almost Ghost

A good friend has just been diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer, putting me in mind of a poem by Lucille Clifton when she learned of her husband’s lung cancer diagnosis.

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Why Read Lit? Let Me Count the Reasons

I grapple today about why it is essential to read lit. And what happens to us when we don’t.

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The Quiet Mystery Returns

In “Primary Wonder” Denise Levertov wonders at the quiet mystery” that “there is anything, anything at all.”

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In Praise of the Liberal Arts

NYT columnist Nicholas Kristof recently sang the praises of the liberal arts and talked about the vital importance of literature.

Posted in Hemingway (Ernest), Homer, Hosseini (Khaled), Lahiri (Jhumpa), Morrison (Toni) | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Saving Princesses from the Marriage Plot

Long the target of feminist critiques, the princess story might have some progressive aspects.

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Mourning the Death of “Captain” Lincoln

“Oh Captain! My Captain,” mourning the death of Lincoln 150 years ago today, was Whitman’s most popular poem.

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How to View Prejudice in the Classics

How to handle instances of prejudice in the classics? Let the values battles fly.

Posted in Lawrence (D. H.), Milton (John), Rabelais (Francois), Woolf (Virginia) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How Fantasy Saves Our Souls

Great fantasy can always be seen as oppositional, pushing against prevailing modes of thought and opening up portals into new human possibilities.

Posted in Cervantes (Miguel de), Erdrich (Louise), Euripides, Sir Gawain Poet, Tolkien (J.R.R.) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Touching the Wounded God

Malcolm Guite’s “Sonnet for St. Thomas the Apostle” celebrates the urge to touch God.

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The River’s Blood Turned to Stone

This Scott Bates fable captures the tragedy of California’s drought.

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Whitman’s Poem a Lesson for War Hawks

In “The Wound-Binder,” Walt Whitman refuses to glorify war and only shows its bloody aftermath–a good thing to remember on the 150th anniversary of the Civil War’s final day.

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America, a Land in Perpetual Search

The hero of Neil Gaiman’s “American Gods” shows America how it can live in perpetual search. Insisting that the country look a certain way leads to violence.

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A Fantasy about U.S. Thirst for War

Neil Gaiman’s “American Gods” understands the thirst of those Americans that want to go to war with Iran.

Posted in Gaiman (Neil), King (Stephen) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Jane Eyre” Still Challenges Us

“Jane Eyre” was radical when it came out and it continues to challenge us today with its assertive women.

Posted in Bronte (Charlotte) | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Out of the Blackness Every Morning

Many of Mary Oliver’s poems, including “The Sun,” function well as Easter poems.

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

The Cross Recounts the Crucifixion

“Dream of the Rood” tells the story of the crucifixion from the cross’ point of view.

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The Love Songs We Hear Every Spring

Scott Bates finds song birds more entertaining but ultimately opts for silent swans, who mate for life.

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Social Media, Our Modern Day Pillory

Social media has become the pillory of the 21st century, shaming people the way Hester Prynne is shamed in “The Scarlet Letter.”

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  • 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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