Reflections on Patti Smith’s Devotion

I hadn’t heard of Patti Smith before reading Devotion, her slim volume of 112 pages that expands upon her lecture presentation at Yale (2016), initiating the Windham-Campbell series, “Why I Write.” Rock aficionados remember Smith for her punk-rock as singer with her own band and award-winning albums.  Politically, her “People Have the Power” became the theme song for Ralph Nader in his 2000 campaign for … Continue reading Reflections on Patti Smith’s Devotion

Emily Brontë’s Faith Poem: “No Coward Soul is Mine”

I’ve always admired Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights as a supreme literary achievement. In teaching it over the years, its structural complexity, thematic depth, and passionate intensity never failed to astound me. Putting it another way, Wuthering Heights has haunted me, much like Catherine’s ghost at Heathcliff’s window. Years ago, I had the good fortune to visit the parsonage where she lived out her brief life … Continue reading Emily Brontë’s Faith Poem: “No Coward Soul is Mine”

The Fate of our Animal Friends in Pandemic Times

The untold suffering of our animal friends, victims of collapsing slaughter houses in the wake of mass worker viral infections, is so manifest it shouldn’t be ignored. It isn’t just Asian wet markets that need closing, though China bristles in denial, but industrial farming here at home, latent with cruelty, harbinger of disease, pervasive in despoiling the earth and advancing climate change. We rightly become … Continue reading The Fate of our Animal Friends in Pandemic Times

Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring: An Earth Day Tribute

  I’ve just finished reading Rachel Carson’s classic Silent Spring, written back in 1962, but still timely. President Kennedy read it eagerly, followed by Nixon in a time when presidents read books. (President Obama is another omnivorous reader in our own time.) Nixon was so deeply affected, that he founded the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as a safeguard. I first became aware of the book … Continue reading Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring: An Earth Day Tribute

Sally Rooney: Up to the Hype?

I took up reading Irish literary sensation Sally Rooney to find out what the fuss was all about. After all, she’s only twenty-eight and has written two novels that have rocked the literary world, Conversations with Friends (2017) and Normal People (2018), dubbing her the gatekeeper of the millennial generation. Saying you’ve read Rooney is the new chic. Where does such youthful sagacity come from, … Continue reading Sally Rooney: Up to the Hype?

Review: Paul Collier, Exodus: How Migration is Changing Our World

Not long ago, Hillary Clinton controversially summed up Britain’s Brexit morass as essentially about immigration: “Europe needs to get a handle on migration because that is what lit the flame.” https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/nov/22/hillary-clinton-europe-must-curb-immigration-stop-populists-trump-brexit A way of saying that only then can Europe tame the groundswell of white, nativist resentment that has given rise to Donald Trump and Britain’s now confirmed exit from the European Union, January 31, … Continue reading Review: Paul Collier, Exodus: How Migration is Changing Our World

Rupi Kaur: Pop Poetry Phenom

Just read New Republic’s glowing assessment of Canadian Instapoet Rupi Kaur, reflected in its swollen title, “Rupi Kaur is the Writer of the Decade.” (New Republic) Not even thirty, she’s published two poetry volumes, Milk and Honey (2015) and The Sun and Her Flowers (2017). Poet luminary of Instagram, she’s gathered 3.8 million followers. Milk and Honey, translated into 25 languages, has sold 1.4 million … Continue reading Rupi Kaur: Pop Poetry Phenom