Category Archives: Uncategorized

Are We Overanalyzing Trump?

Monday My son gave me a tough-love talk about my writing at a wedding reception this past Saturday afternoon. We were in Iowa together for my wife’s nephew and Darien took a few moments to express doubts about book he is helping me self-publish. While he is a big supporter of the blog, he worries […]

Also posted in Borges (Jorge Luis), Doyle (Arthur Conan), Pope (Alexander) | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Wine of Love Is Music

Spiritual Sunday I attended a joyous Des Moines wedding yesterday, one where the bride, an avid runner, wore running shoes. The groom is a runner as well. Things promise well. Here’s a lovely wedding poem by the 18th century poet James Thomson, author of The Seasons and “Rule, Britannia.” I send it out to all […]

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

To My First Love, My Mother

Spiritual Sunday Christina Rossetti honors her mother with this unorthodox sonnet that speaks for itself. The “blessed glow” of Mother Love “transcends the laws/ Of time and change and mortal life and death.” Apparently Rossetti’s mother encouraged her in her sonnet writing, giving the poem additional resonance. Happy Mother’s Day to the many mothers in […]

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Poem for International Workers’ Day

Wednesday – May 1 Despite incessant GOP attacks on unions with their Orwellian-named “right to work laws,” increasing income inequality may push Democrats to aggressively push for more actual workers’ rights. I was struck that Joe Biden, in announcing his presidential bid, said he was “sick of this President badmouthing unions.” Later he tweeted, “Labor […]

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Libraries, Critical to Democracy

Tuesday Today’s post is a belated celebration of Library Week (April 7-13), which generated several articles worthy of mention. In a substantive New Review of Books essay (and what essay in that august publication is ever non-substantive?), Sue Halpern reviews several books about public libraries. I particularly liked an observation drawn both from her personal […]

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

We Have Here the Stuff of Paradise

Spiritual Sunday Spring has broken all over southern Tennessee, giving me the occasion to run Edwin Markham’s wonderful “Earth Is Enough.” His view, I believe, is similar to what Jesus meant by heaven on earth. We are to find heaven in ourselves and heaven in our surroundings, not wait until we die. To focus overmuch […]

Also posted in Markham (Edwin), Milton (John) | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

How Vonnegut Faced His Demons

Thursday To honor the 50th anniversary of Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five, I am reposting an essay about how Vonnegut used science fiction to come to terms with the Battle of the Bulge and the Dresden bombing, both of which he experienced first-hand. I owe the ideas to student Chris Hammond, who devoted his senior project […]

Also posted in Vonnegut (Kurt) | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

An Irish Poet Blasts Brexit

Tuesday When The Irish Times interviewed several Irish authors about Brexit, one of them responded with a lyric. In dark and confusing times, poetry steps up. It makes sense that Irish authors would weigh in since the Emerald Isle, especially Northern Ireland, has more at stake than almost anyone else. The border between the two […]

Also posted in Duhig (Ian) | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Same-Sex Desire in the Sonnets

Wednesday If you want a one-stop article about the same-sex desire expressed in Shakespeare’s first 126 sonnets, Sandra Newman’s recent Aeon article is the place to go. Newman neatly summarizes the historical debates over the sonnets and pretty much puts the matter to rest: they really are expressions of homosexual love from Shakespeare to a […]

Also posted in Shakespeare (William) | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment


  • 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!