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Hamlet and Opium: The Subtle Influence of Samuel Taylor Coleridge

By Brian Hoey. Oct 21, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Poetry

Samuel Taylor Coleridge is, quite simply, one of the most important English Poets. Full stop. He was praised in his time as a master of metrical techniques and wild imagery, helping to spearhead the Romantic movement (whose members would include Shelley, Keats, Wordsworth, Byron, and others), the impact of which can still be felt in contemporary poetry. Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” (1798) remains one of the best known lyric poems in English (fun fact: the active member of Coast Guard with the most shipboard time and exemplary character is officially known as the Ancient Mariner), and its indelible image of the albatross around the mariner’s neck has entered the popular lexicon. In the midst of all of this praise, however, it is easy to overlook some of the stranger ways in which Coleridge has influenced and continues to influence Anglophone literature. Foremost among them: he was one of the fathers of the drug-induced poem.

     
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Notable Nobel Prize Firsts

By Adrienne Rivera. Oct 7, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Poetry, Literature, Nobel Prize Winners

In 1895, Alfred NobelSwedish chemist, philanthropist, and inventor of dynamitedied. In his will, Nobel dedicated the bulk of his massive estate toward awarding five yearly prizes. This, then, is how the Nobel Prizes in Chemistry, Physical Science, Medicine, Peace, and Literature were born.

The Nobel Prize in Literature is awarded annually to a writer whose body of work represents a standard of excellence and that moves literature as a whole into an “ideal” direction. Though every year the committee's interpretation of the word “ideal” has held different meanings, in most recent times it has seemed to mean work that focuses on humanitarianism. The Nobel Prize in Literature is the most prestigious literary award in the world, with the committee considering writers from any nation producing work in any language. The winner is chosen each year in October. Last year's winner, singer and songwriter Bob Dylan, was the first musician ever awarded literature's most famous prize. The announcement caused an uproar in the literary community and prompted discussion on the true meaning of the world “literature” and on the place of songs within the overall cannon. With the one year anniversary of that controversial choice and this year's winner, Kazuo Ishiguro, recently announced, it's a perfect time to look back on other notable Nobel Prize in Literature firsts.

     
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Buying Rare and Antiquarian Books in Dublin

By Audrey Golden. Oct 6, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Poetry, Literature, Literary travel

Ireland has a long literary history, which grows especially dense in the twentieth century. From W.B. Yeats to James Joyce to Seamus Heaney, there are many collectible Irish poets and writers. In addition, there are numerous novelists who have been published in Ireland and whose work relates to Ireland’s history of colonialism that is shared, in many ways, by numerous countries around the globe. If you’re traveling to Dublin, you should certainly look into the city’s expansive literary past, but you should also be sure to visit the fantastic used and rare bookstores in the city. In terms of rare and antiquarian books, the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers (ILAB) lists two sellers in the city (four in the country total). In addition, there are a number of rare and used shops, as well as a thriving weekend book market.

     
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Five Interesting Facts About T.S. Eliot

By Brian Hoey. Sep 26, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Poetry, Nobel Prize Winners

To call T.S. Eliot the most important English-language poet of the 20th century doesn’t feel like too much of a stretch. His 1948 Nobel Prize is just one indicator of the lasting impact that poems like ‘The Waste Land’ (1922) and ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’ (1915) have to this day, and will no doubt continue to have as long as there are English professors and recreational readers of poetry in the world. In spite, or perhaps because, of the influence of Eliot’s poetry on the Anglophone poetic landscape, the man himself has remained something of an enigma since his death in 1965. Here are five things you may not know about T.S. Eliot.

     
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Vain Tenderness: A (Mostly Futile) Sully Prudhomme Reading Guide

By Brian Hoey. Sep 7, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Poetry, Nobel Prize Winners

Literary-historical karma, as ever, sides with Leo Tolstoy. When the first Nobel Prizes were awarded in 1901, the great Russian novelist was considered the frontrunner for the literary prize. When he failed to win, there was public outrage, leading a number of Swedish artists and critics to sign an apologetic letter to Tolstoy, for fear that the Nobel Committee’s decision to snub Tolstoy would reflect badly on the country’s literary tastes and worse, offend one of history’s greatest writers. Regardless of whether Tolstoy himself had any desire to win the award (he didn’t), history has largely sided with the outraged parties, continuing to venerate Tolstoy while letting cobwebs spread over the legacy of Sully Prudhomme, the first winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature.  

     
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Five 20th-Century Writers Who Went to Law School

By Audrey Golden. Aug 29, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Poetry, Literature, Learn About Books

The study of the law often is viewed in opposition to careers requiring creativity. Yet many notable novelists and poets actually have attended law school, and even more have actually graduated and practiced law in some capacity. While it might sound strange to think of fiction or poetry writing and the study of law being interwoven, we believe there’s a close relationship between the thinking and reading practices that occur in both fields. To give you a sense of some of the distinct and varied writers who went to law school, we’d like to provide some information about a handful of poets and novelists and their experiences studying the law.

     
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Guillaume Apollinaire: Master of le Mot Juste

By Brian Hoey. Aug 26, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Poetry, Art

Like Walt Whitman, Guillaume Apollinaire contains multitudes. While he is largely known to English speaking readers as a important modernist poet, he was also a noted art critic and a writer of novels and plays. And while his poetic imagination was best displayed in his actual poems, one can’t help but wonder if it was also at work when it came to his success in that most fickle of businesses: the naming of artistic movements.

     
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Master of Light Verse: Ogden Nash

By Adrienne Rivera. Aug 19, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Poetry

Poet Ogden Nash was born in 1902 in New York. However, due to his father's business work, the family moved often, and Nash never considered himself a New Yorker. He once wrote the verse “I could have loved New York had I not loved Balti-more.” He completed one year of his Harvard education before quitting to move to New York City where he first worked selling bonds, then as a writer at various jobs, including a stint on the editorial staff of The New Yorker. Nash moved to Baltimore in 1931 where he lived and wrote until his death in 1970 due to complications from Crohn's disease. Here are some interesting facts about one of the foremost writers of humorous verse.

     
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John Dryden: (Literal) Poet Laureate of Political Upheaval

By Brian Hoey. Aug 9, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Poetry

The great English poets of the 17th century did not always fare especially well. John Milton, following the Restoration in May 1660, had to go into hiding until a royal pardon was issued exonerating him for the civic and poetic work he did during Oliver Cromwell’s reign (some of his poems in that era were seen as condoning Cromwell’s regicide of King Charles I). Even after the pardon was issued, Milton found himself imprisoned until Andrew Marvell convinced the monarchy not to execute him. Marvell himself, another poetic luminary of the era, had only narrowly avoided prison himself on the occasion of the Restoration. John Dryden, too, managed to escape the wrath of the restored monarchy, but a few decades later the Glorious Revolution would find him less fortunate. After he refused to swear the oaths of allegiance to newly-crowned protestant monarchs William and Mary, he lost his position as Poet Laureate and the comforts of a position at court.

     
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Light Verse and Strong Opinions: A Hilaire Belloc Reading Guide

By Brian Hoey. Jul 27, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Poetry, Children's Books

“When I am dead, I hope it may be said: His sins were scarlet, but his books were read.” –Hilaire Belloc

Hilaire Belloc stands as one of the most controversial men in Anglophone letters. While the French-born poet, essayist, historian, and one-time Minister of Parliament boasted more fame and influence than almost any other Edwardian writers, he was, as George Bernard Shaw described him, a champion of lost causes (for what it’s worth, Shaw also referred to Belloc and his frequent collaborator G.K. Chesterton, collectively as “the Chesterbelloc”). As such, his critical and historical writings take the form of bellicose Catholic apologism and radical distributist political tracts. On the other hand, W.H Auden was a huge fan of his poetry, remarking, "as a writer of Light Verse, (Belloc) has few equals and no superiors." He is undoubtedly a writer who contains multitudes, and as such his corpus is huge and varied.

     
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