I’m a bit late getting this list posted this year. Chinese New Year found my family and I struggling to decide whether to remain in Chengdu as the coronavirus epidemic worsened. Ultimately, we chose to leave. The Lantern Festival (Yuanxiao jie 元宵节)–last night of the New Year celebrations and the usual time I write this post–found us in Japan, watching from over the waters as China took dramatic action to control the epidemic. When it became clear that situation was not going to improve quickly, we continued our journey, back to the U.S. and my family, with whom we are now living.Continue reading
Poems in Abomination of Winter
I get my news about the U.S. rather slowly. For example, I only just learned of the snowstorm in the Northeast. Much as I would like to gloat and taunt my NYC-dwelling friends about the fact that it never snows here in Chengdu, the reality of the situation is this: I am drinking my coffee hot, the down comforters are on the beds, I am currently wearing two wool sweaters, and although I have not yet put on any thermal underwear, that moment is approaching rapidly. All of this can mean but one thing–winter has arrived–and there is no emoji capable of accurately depicting my feelings on the subject. Continue reading
Falling in Love with Dante’s Divine Comedy
In his essay, “Why Read the Classics?,” collected in the eponymous volume, Italo Calvino argues that “… it is no use reading the classics out of a sense of duty or respect, we should only read them for love.” He adds, “It is only during unenforced reading that you will come across the book which will become ‘your’ book” (p. 6). I began reading Dante out of curiosity, but then I fell in love with an imaginative vision that dared what few authors have dared–and what no writer today would even consider. Continue reading
“Zora Neale Hurston on Racial Identity, Ninety Years Later” has been Published!
I’m pleased to announce that The Columbia Review has published my essay “Zora Neale Hurston on Being Black in America, Ninety Years Later” on their website (the title has been changed to the one you see in the title of this post). If you have a chance click over there and give them a visit. Thanks!
Thinking about Langston Hughes
Langston Hughes is one of those poets whose work appealed to me as a young person–I think I was in ninth grade when I first read his poetry–and has only continued to grow in my estimation since then. Continue reading
Zora Neale Hurston on Being Black in America: Ninety Years Later
[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
Ever since I read J.R.R. Tolkien’s essay “Fairy-Stories,” I’ve wanted to write a post about it. Then Ursula Le Guin’s new collection No Time to Spare came out, and I wanted to include some of her comments too. So far, so good, two of my favorite authors backing up several points on which I’m quite passionate. Then Continue reading
How I was Ruined for Tourist Art
My family and I recently made a spur-of-the-moment trip to Beijing. My wife and I met in Beijing and spent several years living there. We still have a number of friends there. In fact, they’re probably the closest we have. Close enough that when we texted them on Saturday morning to let them know we were in town they all met us for dinner on Saturday night. 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
What a beautiful day!
I am pleased to be able to share another song from my friend, José Marcelino. I should have shared this one in May, but I’ve been busy. Continue reading