Monthly Archives: January 2019

Lessons from Being Cold & Depressed

Thursday The polar vortex that is freezing America’s northern states gives me an excuse to rerun a post I wrote on Mary Oliver’s “Cold Poem.” If you want a silver lining for extreme cold, Oliver has one. Reprinted from January 8, 2014 Much of the United States is caught in extremely cold temperatures at the […]

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How I Make Literary Connections

Wednesday A friend the other day asked where my ideas come from, especially when I apply a passage from one century to incidents in another. Yesterday, for instance, I said that Trump confidant Roger Stone reminded me of a passage in Herman Melville’s Confidence Man. So how did that enter my head? To answer, let […]

Posted in Beowulf Poet, Fielding (Henry), Melville (Herman), Pope (Alexander) | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How Deep Is Roger Stone’s Act?

Tuesday What are we to make of longtime Trump confidant Roger Stone’s flamboyant behavior following his arrest by Special Counselor Robert Mueller for lying to Congress about his contacts with Wikileaks? I think back to a passage from Herman Melville’s The Confidence Man that I applied to Trump during the campaign but which applies equally […]

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Reading during the Shutdown

Monday The United States has finally come to its senses and reopened the government, but while we were stumbling through our presidential temper tantrum, a couple of publications talked about the salutary effects of reading. A Washington Post article recounted stories of furloughed workers plunging into books, and a Nation article argued that fiction is […]

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Burdened by Ice

Spiritual Sunday With much of the country groaning under the weight of winter storms, I share a Robert Hayden poem in which the speaker calls out to God in his misery. I warn you the poem does not conclude with a comforting—or a facile—promise. Sounding very much like George Herbert in his inability to pray, […]

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Farewell to Serena’s Dominance?

Friday It was only a quarterfinal match at the Australian Open, but when Serena Williams lost a match in which she was serving at 5-1, 40-30 in the deciding third set, we had a second pillar teetering amongst those that have been supporting the tennis universe.. To borrow from A. E Housman, it felt like […]

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Imagine Lit Characters in Reality TV

Thursday I came across this enjoyable tweet from one Ross Danniel Bullen, who imagines a Victorian version of the House Hunters television show: Host: I— Henry James: I should like a kitchen whose concept is – how shall I conceive of it – not closed, not in some way occluded, but bright, agape, unrestrained as […]

Posted in Austen (Jane), Beckett (Samuel), Dickens (Charles), James (Henry), Wilde (Oscar) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What It’s Like to Be Transgender

Wednesday While our conservative Supreme Court is not seconding all of Donald Trump’s acts of cruelty, it has just overturned (by a 5-4 vote, of course) a judge blocking Trump’s move to prevent transgender people from serving in the military. As Bloomberg News reports, “[B]y letting the ban take effect, the court gave the administration […]

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The L. A. Rams and Chaucer’s Miller

Tuesday I’m experiencing déjà vu after seeing the Los Angeles Rams in the playoffs. When I was a teenager and just becoming interested in football, my beloved Minnesota Vikings were always encountering the Los Angeles Rams in playoff games. Then the Rams became the St. Louis Rams, but now they’re the Los Angeles Rams again, […]

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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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