227. An American Sunrise: Joy Marjo

My mother always said that I thought too big. My voice is this blog and my teaching, both of which are unremarkable (in my mind).  Yet, I remind myself daily of the novels that have no publisher, the teacher recognition I do not earn or the public policy I am subjected to because I dare... Continue Reading →


226. Flag Salute: Esther Poper

My wife was preparing her unit on the Harlem Renaissance and I came up short--I could only name about three artists involved.  Now, I can't name that many writers from most literary movements, but when I called up Wikipedia I was at a loss to even recognize names beyond Hughes or Hurston (so, really, two names).... Continue Reading →

220. Good Bones: Maggie Smith

What makes something go viral? It's a good question to ask your students.  If you ask them about "Literature with a capital 'L'" they won't know what you're talking about.  Classics?  Old books?  Books librarians shove in your hand, that have gold seals on them and are not good but good for you?  Personally, I... Continue Reading →


216. Briggsflatts: Basil Bunting

Why, no, that is not a made up name. Remember Dire Straits?  "Walk of Life"?  "Money for Nothing"?  Great band with a lot more going on than those two hits (but they are great songs).  Mark Knopfler, the founder and guitarist of the band, knew Basil Bunting.  The not-yet-frontman was working in a newspaper while... Continue Reading →


203. Richard Cory: Edwin Arlington Robinson

The last post--Anne Carson's "The Glass Essay"--was a bit long and deep and could be considered a downer.  Suicide. This  is about a suicide, too.   Not as much of a downer.  Perhaps it's Aristotle's often quoted "comedy = tragedy + time".  Not that Robinson is funny, but Cory's death isn't as tragic as the... Continue Reading →


201. western springs zoo: Sonja Yelich

Want to seem hip to your students? Good luck with that. I had a class on democratic organizations in college, and the professor used a lot of orchestra analogies to demonstrate his point about leadership and organization. These were mostly lost of us; at least, they were not as meaningful as he meant them to... Continue Reading →


195. Preliminary Report from the Committee on Appropriate Postures for the Suffering: Jon Davis

In her book "On Violence" the philosopher Hannah Arendt postulates that bureaucracies become the ideal birthplaces of violence towards others since they are defined as a "rule by no one" against whom to argue. I was thinking of this while sitting in a committee meeting talking about "Action Plans". Every three years our school writes... Continue Reading →


182: All the is Gold does not Glitter: J. R. R. Tolkien

This is one of my favorite units. My charge is to study 20th century world history.  Instead of studying everything, I study one thing that can then be applied to many things.  Our study of 20th century England is really a look at all of Western Civilization and how one goes about looking at an... Continue Reading →


166. Now is the Winter of Our Discontent: William Shakespeare

While jogging I was listening to Bill T. Jones' pick Schubert's "Winterreise" for NPR's "Winter Song" series. The song is beautiful, and haunting, but that is not what inspired this post. Instead, it was Jones' talking about a scene from his childhood. Jones is a dancer and choreographer; a black man who grew up poor... Continue Reading →


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