Guyanese author E.R. Braithwaite has passed away at the venerable age of 104. Braithwaite is best known for his award-winning novel To Sir, With Love. This autobiographical tale tells of his time as a schoolteacher in the East End of London. The book was made into a film starring Sidney Poitier and the singer Lulu. His writings mostly dealt with the difficulties of being a black man with a classical education in a world full of discrimination. Braithwaite joined the … Continued
Nelle Harper Lee was born in Monroeville, Alabama on April 28, 1926, and she passed away in her hometown earlier today, February 19, 2016.
Harper Lee was best known for the novel To Kill a Mockingbird, which was published in 1960. It was immediately successful, winning the Pulitzer Prize in 1961, and has become a classic of modern American literature. She remained out of the public eye for decades afterwards, and did not publish anything else until 2015, a sequel to Mockingbird: Go Set a Watchman in 2015. (more…)
Maya Angelou (April 4, 1928 – May 28, 2014)
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” –Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou is widely regarded as one of the great voices of contemporary black literature. Her ability to capture the moment through the idiosyncracies of language makes her poetry and prose unique in its form. Her personal experiences and social commentary blend into a work of art that raises awareness in our society today. (more…)
The Academy of American Poets posted the sad announcement of the passing of poet Maxine Kumin on February 6, 2014, at the age of 88.
Kumin was the recipient of the 1974 Pulitzer Prize-winning New England writer and past U.S. poet laureate. She also served as Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress and Poet Laureate of New Hampshire. For her work in the literary realm, she was awarded the Aiken Taylor Award for Modern Poetry, an American Academy of Arts and Letters award, the Sarah Joseph Hale Award, the Levinson Prize, a National Endowment for the Arts grant, the Eunice Tietjens Memorial Prize from Poetry, and fellowships from the Academy of American Poets, and the National Council on the Arts. (more…)
Dickinson, the Person More than 150 years after her death, Emily Dickinson is still a profound voice in American literature, with students still spending countless hours analyzing her poetry. Her poetry often focuses on themes of death and mortality, appealing to the more introspective of readers. Emily Dickinson was born in Amherst, Massachusetts to a successful and well-known family. Emily’s grandfather, Samuel Dickinson, was one of the founders of Amherst College, which lead to her being one of the first … Continued
Author Oscar Hijuelos passed away after a heart attack on Saturday at age 62 in New York.
Hijuelos was born to Cuban parents in New York and although he was often lauded as a Latino author, he did not appreciate being compartmentalized by ethnicity. Even so, the common themes in his books are cultural assimilation in the “melting pot” of the United States, and he is listed as an inspiration by many younger Latino authors.
Best known for “The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love,” a novel that won him the 1990 Pulitzer Prize, Hijuelos was the first Latino to win that book award. Hijuelos also was awarded the Ingram Merrill Foundation Award in 1983 and the Rome Prize in 1985 for his first published novel, “Our House in the Last World.”
Oscar Hijuelos wrote a memoir in 2011 that reminisced on the 1970’s in New York and his experience of being an aspiring Cuban writer, called “Thoughts without Cigarettes.”
Our condolences are extended to his wife, author and poet Lori Marie Carlson.
Collectible editions of Oscar Hijuelos work are after the jump…
Tolkien, the Master of Middle Earth
John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, or Ronald Tolkien to his friends and family, created as his life work the world of Arda, or Middle Earth. Tolkien shaped this world with incredible detail, depth and scope. The mythic layers of the stories of Middle Earth mimic in complexity those of our own world.
Tolkien wrote the heroic tales of the First Age as epic poems, inspired during his military service in the Lancashire Fusiliers in the trenches of World War I Europe. These poems and the stories evolved into The Book of Lost Tales, and later The Silmarillion, and set the stage for the events of the War of the Ring. Tolkien authored the stories of Frodo and the One Ring as a serial that was mailed to his son during the Second World War, and it is clear that the real tension of wartime and suffering inform the tales of conflict throughout Tolkien’s poetry and fiction. The events of Tolkien’s life and the drama of his stories overlap to provide a depth of history unlike any other fantasy series. Other authors have forged their own fantasy worlds but none wields the authority of Middle Earth.
Author and activist David Swanson consistently argues against war and the imperial ambitions of the United States.
Swanson, who served as the press secretary for the Dennis Kucinich campaign, also helped to introduce Kucinich’s attempt to impeach and prosecute former President George W. Bush. Swanson argues convincingly against the legality of efficacy of war itself, and the ways in which the US Presidency has reached beyond its original constitutional limitations. In 2009, Swanson published Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union, which details the ways in which the executive branch has become more extreme in the last few decades.
The main difference between his arguments and those of some others is his insistence on not only the illegitimacy of war as a tool of politics, but its use as a propaganda tool, and an instrument of fear. His book War is a Lie (2010) breaks down specific ways that reveal the true motives of those that wage war, as well as the immediate and long term consequences of keeping military force as one of the primary tools of American foreign policy.
The idea of human rights has been an essential idea in Western thought since the renaissance. Activists, philosophers, politicians and poets grappled with the concept of social justice throughout the last two centuries. Coming to a greater understanding and application of social justice in the twenty-first century requires an approach that relates past struggles to the present in an appropriate context, but addresses contemporary injustice without relying on Western assumptions and stereotypes. Philosopher Martha Nussbaum, for example, points out that … Continued
With Black History Month around the corner and the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation upon us we take a look at John Brown. Brown, an ardent abolitionist had no problem in using violence in the fight to end slavery. Brown is probably best remembered for his armed attack on the federal armory at Harpers Ferry, Virginia that resulted in his capture and eventual execution.