Thursday, May 10, 2018

What Do Mother's Day and "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" Have in Common?

As I continue in my brilliantly brilliant plan to overhaul this blog, I seem to have accidentally deleted my original review of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. There are probably plenty of reviews of this classic and much-beloved story swirling around the internet, so many that my paltry offering may not be missed. However, it’s important to me to have it mentioned on my blog.

You see, this was one of the first chapter books I read to myself, and it came about in a rather devious parental way:

As long as I can remember I have either loved reading or have longed to know how to read. My preliterate years were spent pretending to read out of my favorite picture books (which I had memorized), and clearly recall that I would stare at the words—strange symbols of black on white, curls and lines and dots that I knew translated into language—and will myself to understand.

Reading was literally a magic skill.

Just as it’s hard to tell the exact moment a stack of kindling becomes fire, it’s hard to tell when I learned to read. But in any case, I did. Finally I was there! I, too, had this magic power!

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Thoughts on “The Man Against the Sky” by Edwin Arlington Robinson

While it’s no longer April, I realized that I had only one more poem on my “list” of pieces from The Oxford Book of American Verse, so might as well finish up with one more poem by Edwin Arlington Robinson, The Man Against the Sky.

Mostly alone he goes

This poem is centered on the idea that there are several outlooks on life—perceptions, worldviews, philosophies—and that each individual has the freedom to choose which outlook they’re going to use as they live.

Even he who climbed and vanished may have taken
Down to the perils of a depth not known,
From death defended though by men forsaken,
The bread that every man must eat alone;
He may have walked while others hardly dared
Look on to see him stand where many fell

The first perspective is that of a one who lives courageously, yet isolated. It brings to mind the proverbial problem that “it’s lonely at the top,” because the deeds of great leaders are often admired without a full comprehension of the sacrifices that were a part of those deeds.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Poetry Thoughts 2018: James Russell Lowell's "A Fable for Critics"

Poems stereotypically deal with weighty topics like love, death, transience, time, art, nature, humanity…and yet, sometimes poems are simply writing that rhymes. Sometimes poems are even funny—and I’m not just talking bawdy limericks, but witty satires. A Fable for Critics is basically a compendium of literary criticism of some of the other poets contained in The Oxford Book of American Verse, which makes James Russell Lowell’s work rather “meta.” And, considering he’s a poet criticizing his peers (perhaps betters?), it can come across as varied tones of tongue-in-cheek sarcasm, passive-aggressive jealousy, and sometimes just plain mudslinging. I loved it.