Author Archives: Robin Bates

Trump Policy Is Oliver Twist Redux

Dickens would have a field day with the Trump administration’s decision to separate children from their families.

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Hair That Jumps Up and Dances

Lucille Clifton’s “homage to my hair”lifts up those who have doubts about having kinky hair.

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Dante’s Place for GOP “Moderates”

Dante has a place in inferno for people like current Republicans “moderates” who talk a good game but refuse to stand up to Trump.

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Why an Af-Am Meg Is Important

Having an African American Meg in the film version of Wrinkle in Time adds an important dimension to the novel.

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Trump, a Kane-Type Narcissist

Citzen Kane, Trump’s favorite film, brilliantly captures a narcissist. Margaret Atwood and Sylvia Plath also have things to say about narcissism.

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Blake on Bible-Citing Politicians

William Blake would strenuously oppose Jeff Sessions Immigration policies.

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Becoming Clever at Age Six

A. A. Milne’s poem about turning six gets the age just right.

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Retirement Changes How Time Feels

Terry Pratchett examines how we handle time in “Thief of Time.”

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What Our Libraries Reveal about Us

Merging my library with my father’s have given me a new appreciation for him.

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The GOP and Trump’s Modest Proposals

The practice of separating immigrant children from their asylum-seeking parents is reminiscent of the Modest Proposer’s solution.

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Finding Hope in Dark Times

If you need to poem to give you hope as Donald Trump tries to blow up the world order, check out Muriel Rukeyser’s “I lived in the first century of world wars.”

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Straying into the Holy Temple of the Lord

In memory of Helen Keller, who died 50 years ago (June 1, 1968), here’s a poem she wrote who overflows with authentic feeling.

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Celebrating 45 Years of Marriage

To commemorate the 45th anniversary of my marriage to Julia, I turn to Donne’s “Valediction: Forbidding Mourning.”

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Using Lit to Battle Fake News

Authors can fight back against autocratic attempts to define reality but can no longer resort to classic realism, Salman Rushdie argues.

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Trump Reality: Puerto Rico a Success

Puerto Rico hurricane disaster, like the banana plantation massacre in “100 Years of Solitude,” has all but vanished from the airways.

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The Dangerous Art of Chainsaws

I thought of Robert Frost’s poem “Out, Out” as tree trimmers took down a rotten tree by our house.

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Crude Caricatures Are Not Effective Satire

Roseanne Barr and Samantha Bee gave their fans a quick high with their foul language, but such language does little substantive.

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Teach Us All You Can of Saying Yes

Like Eli, Nancy Schaffer looks for instruction from the child Samuel after he hears God calling.

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June Love, Simple and Entire

For a June poem, here’s Richard Wilbur reminiscing about young love.

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For Roth, People Were Always Complex

The late Philip Roth’s novel “Human Stain” reenforced for me that humans are always more complex than ideological caricatures of them.

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Reflections on Internet Trolling

Internet trolling is not contributing to discourse but poisoning it.

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What Is America’s Favorite Novel?

NPR has compiled a list of 100 books to determine America’s favorite novel. It’s often an infuriating list but the exercise is worthwhile all the same.

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Mourning the Mouthless Dead

Charles Hamilton Sorley, killed early in World War I, penned anti-war poetry that anticipated Wilfred Owen.

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A New Isaiah Walks the City Streets

In David Gascoyne’s 1932 poem “New Isaiah,” the poet uses Isaiah imagery to prophesy the decline of the west.

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Murakami and Repressed Anger’s Toxicity

Murakami’s novels cast light on a recent Japanese football incident where a player was instructed to take out the other team’s quarterback.

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My Three Book Projects

In which I share my first three sabbatical–I mean retirement–book projects.

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I Weep Like a Child for the Past

Returning to my childhood home, I thought of one of the great poems about nostalgia, D. H. Lawrence’s “Piano.”

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Retiring to the Garden of Eden

Stepping out of our U-Haul truck and into my mother’s wood, I felt I had entered Milton’s Garden of Eden.

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Trump, Clifton, & Immigrants as Animals

Trump describing immigrants as animals is scary stuff, as this Lucille Clifton poem makes clear.

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Light Breaks Where No Light Was Before

Lucille Clifton’s Lucifer poems are more pentecostal than diabolic.

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A Time To Gather Spiritual Honey

Mary Oliver love flowers because of their origins in dark places and for their ability to make luminous our own dark places.

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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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