Monthly Archives: March 2018

Read Your Children Poetry

A middle school teacher describes how he starts every class with a poem. Also, a note on school shootings, this one at a local high school.

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Dead or Alive? Bureaucracy Decides

A Romanian man, presumed dead and unable to convince the authorities otherwise, recalls Doc Daneeka in “Catch 22.”

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When the World Is Mud-Luscious

e. e. cummings ushers in spring with a joyous celebration.

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Trump on a Hot Tin Roof

Trump’s lawyer as compared the FBI to the mendacity that pervades “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.” The play applies, all right, but to Trump and Dowd themselves.

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Female Intimacy in Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf may have used “To the Lighthouse” to explore the possibilities of human intimacy.

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Filled with Some Other Power

Denise Levertov’s beautiful poem “The Well” works as a commentary on John’s gospel account of the Samaritan woman at the well.

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Believing in the Great White Race

Teaching Langston Hughes’s “Ku Klux” in Ljubljana prompted the students to think of Europes neo-fascists.

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Grieving for a Loved One

Someone I love very dearly has just been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. I turn to “Sonny’s Blues” and “King Lear” to find adequate words.

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Corruption Starts at the Top

The spread of Trumpian corruption is an instance of the fish rotting from the top. “King Lear” shows this process at work.

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Theories about Lit’s Impact

A transcript of a talk given at the University of Ljubljana on “how literature changes lives.”

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A Moving Foster Home Story

Over the weekend I stayed with a former Slovenian exchange student and his foster mother and learned about their moving story.

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Act in All Things as Love Will Prompt

My lectures on Flannery O’Connor, James Baldwin, Shakespeare and Sophocles all seem to track back to Lent these days.

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Atwood: Flawed Activist, Genius Author

Margaret Atwood is not the best spokesperson for feminism because activists and authors necessarily have different agendas.

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“Sonny’s Blues,” Transcendent Moments

In “Sonny’s Blues, art wars with the world’s darkness and promises momentary relief.

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My Dinner with Mladen

An account of a dinner with an old Slovenian friend and intellectual.

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Tearful at Prospero’s Farewell

Prospero’s final speech unexpectedly moved me to tears as I read it aloud recently to my British Fantasy class.

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Trouble Recovering My French

Lines from Lucille Clifton’s “i am accused of tending to the past,” wrenched out of context, describe by experience with French at the moment

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Sorrow, Tears, Emptiness Are Necessary

Rob finds redemption in suffering and sorrow in “But for Love,” a good Lenten message.

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Time Flows On, Paris Remains

I land in Paris today and will negotiate between nostalgia and the city as it presently is. Apollinaire has a wonderful Paris poem about time moving on.

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Facebook Didn’t Know Its Own Strength

A Facebook employee compared Mark Zuckerberg to Lennie in “Of Mice and Men,” a man who didn’t know his own strength in the 2016 election.

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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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