Closer Readings +

Memorial Day: Commemoration, Rediscovery, and Reconsideration

Photo of poppy field
On the last Monday in May the nation celebrates Memorial Day. It is, of course, a day off from school and work and the unofficial beginning of the summer. There are cookouts, picnics, and always a televised concert on the National Mall.Much more important, it is an occasion to pay tribute to those men and women who have died in defense of the homeland. There is a rich literature of speeches, stories, poems, and essays about these sacrifices. Read More »
Categories Closer Readings

Celebrating Studs Terkel – Interviewer of America

Photograph of Studs Terkel during one of the Bughouse Square Debates of the past
“I want people to talk to one another no matter what their difference of opinion might be.”—Studs TerkelNo one captured oral history like Studs Terkel. He was a one-of-a-kind radio show personality, a fixture in Chicago broadcasting, where he held court at WFMT for four and half decades, from 1952 to 1997, engaging in conversation with some of the greatest minds and artistic lights of the 20th century.Read More »
Categories Closer Readings

Malcolm X: A Radical Vision for Civil Rights

Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X
When most people think of the civil rights movement, they think of Martin Luther King, Jr., whose "I Have a Dream" speech, delivered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963 and his acceptance of the Peace Prize the following year,  secured his place as the voice of non-violent, mass protest in the 1960s.Read More »
Categories Closer Readings

Bringing in the May!

Painting. Queen Guinevere’s Maying.
“While every creature rejoices at the rebirth of the greenery,I love the sweet and gentle season when the world is green once more,for I am cheerful and happy in the joy of the fresh blossoms.” -—Arnaut de MareuilAs we enter the month of May, it’s well to heed the advice of this 12th-century troubadour—delight in the return of the tree canopy and the renewal of the natural world.  Read More »
Categories Closer Readings

Walt Whitman’s “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d”

“Syringa vulgaris” (common Lilac) cultivar, LtPowers, May 2013
“Passing, I leave thee lilac with heart-shaped leaves,I leave thee there in the door-yard, blooming, returning with       spring.”Walt Whitman may well have been describing his own vocation when he articulated his belief that literature could be a unifying force for the nation as it began its long road to healing from the scars of civil war:Read More »
Categories Closer Readings