Zora Neale Hurston on Being Black in America: Ninety Years Later

Hurston-Zora-Neale-LOC[UPDATE: I’m pleased to let you know that this essay has been published on The Columbia Review‘s website.] Commencement season at Barnard College this year will mark the ninetieth anniversary of Zora Neale Hurston’s graduation with a BA in anthropology. As a graduate of Barnard’s sister institution, Columbia University, I feel the time is more than ripe to reflect on some of Hurston’s contributions. Continue reading

On First Looking into Keats’s Sonnets

I want to talk today about Keats’s sonnets. I’ve always liked Keats—it’s hard to imagine not liking Keats—but I’ve mostly read his odes. Is it possible to graduate from an English-language high school without reading “Ode to a Grecian Urn?” I certainly hope not. But I honestly can’t recall ever reading any of his sonnets except for “On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer.” I didn’t know what I was missing. Continue reading

Music of the Spirit–Happy Riḍván!

Today is the first day of the holiest of all Bahá’í festivals, Riḍván (usually pronounced as it is in Farsi: rihz-vahn). The name means “Paradise” and was the name Bahá’u’lláh, the Messenger of God for this day whose teaching formed the Bahá’í Faith, gave to the garden just outside of Baghdad where he formally announced his Mission to his family and closest followers. The twelve days of Riḍván commemorate the twelve days Bahá’u’lláh spent in that garden.

The writings of the Bahá’í Faith speak highly of the power of the arts. When used properly they can uplift the soul, ennoble the spirit, and serve as a great force of attraction drawing humanity together. Continue reading

Kurt Vonnegut on just about Everything

I am writing a post today on Kurt Vonnegut for no particular reason. There are other posts I could work on that would be far more in keeping with the overall theme of this blog, but this is what I feel like writing today. One of the nice things about a blog is that you can write anything you want and publish it. There’s no guarantee anyone will ever read it, but that holds true for books as well. Continue reading