Author Archives: RJ

About RJ

Retired English prof (Ph. D., UNC), who likes to garden, blog, pursue languages (especially Spanish) and to share in serious discussion on vital issues such as global warming, the role of government, energy alternatives, etc. Am a vegan and, yes, a tree hugger enthusiastically. If you write me, I'll answer.

Elegy for Iris: A Review

“We can only learn to love by loving.” —Iris Murdoch I’ve just read John Bayley’s Elegy for Iris, his moving memoir of his wife, renowned British novelist Iris Murdoch—26 novels in addition to nonfiction—who succumbed to Alzheimer’s in 1999 at … Continue reading

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My hummingbird friends

My hummingbird friends descend upon my garden landscape each spring, or like clockwork with the advent of April, having journeyed more than a thousand miles from their winter feeding grounds to the south or in Mexico. They stay with me, … Continue reading

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NFL Hypocrisy

The media has been all over this story of Sunday’s NFL response to Trump’s provocative tweet that NFL team owners should fire players who don’t stand proud when the national anthem is played: “Wouldn’t you love to see one of … Continue reading

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Love for All Seasons

  “I hope that I will be the last victim in China’s long record of treating words as crime.” Liu Xiaobo (1955-2017) China isn’t usually a quotidian staple of the Westerner’s mindset. Let’s face it: our culture operates in Eurocentric … Continue reading

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Baseball’s Decline

Last night, the Cleveland Indians won their twentieth straight game, tying the 2000 Oakland A’s, an American League record. Win one more, and they’ll have tied the 1935 Chicago Cubs. Still, they have a ways to go for the all … Continue reading

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The Left’s War on Free Speech

But what was strange was that although Goldstein was hated and despised by everybody, although every day and a thousand times a day, on platforms, on the telescreen, in newspapers, in books, his theories were refuted, smashed, ridiculed, held up … Continue reading

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Reflections on the 2017 Philip Larkin Exhibition at Hull

The Guardian (July 4, 2017) features a review of a favorite poet of mine, Philip Larkin, in connection with a current exhibit of Larkin artifacts at Hull’s Brynmore Jones Library, where he was a librarian for many years. It notes … Continue reading

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Perhaps Someday We Will Learn How to Live

Every morning I awaken to a country bristling with hate, intolerance, and violence.  Trump bullied his way to the presidency, exploiting public anxieties, e. g., steel belt resentment of jobs sent abroad, latent fears of a changing demographic replacing White … Continue reading

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America’s Unofficial Poet Laureate: Mary Oliver

Judging by her phenomenal sales, Mary Oliver surely rates as America’s unofficial poet laureate, and yet the anomaly that she’s never held the office since its inception in 1937. I have to confess that I hadn’t heard of her, despite … Continue reading

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On First Looking Into Milford’s Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay

Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind; Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave. I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned. –Edna … Continue reading

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