The History of Literature #256 – T.S. Eliot | The Waste Land

In 1922, T.S. Eliot (1888-1965), an American living in England, published The Waste Land, widely viewed as perhaps the greatest and most iconic poem of the twentieth century. Virginia Woolf recognized its power immediately, praising it for its “great beauty and force of phrase: symmetry and tensity.” And yet, as nearly a hundred years’ worth of readers and critics have found, its tangle of cultural and literary references can confound as well as compel. Who was T.S. Eliot? What was Modernism and how did he fit into it? What’s The Waste Land about? And what can it offer today’s readers?

Help support the show at patreon.com/literature or historyofliterature.com/shop. (We appreciate it!) Find out more at historyofliterature.com, jackewilson.com, or by following Jacke and Mike on Twitter at @thejackewilson and @literatureSC. Or send an email to jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com.

The History of Literature Podcast is a member of the Podglomerate Network. Learn more at www.thepodglomerate.com/historyofliterature.

The History of Literature #204 – Living Poetry (with Bob Holman

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Fellow poet Naomi Shihab Nye says that Bob Holman’s “life gusto and poetry voice keep the world turning.” In this episode of The History of Literature, we tap into that voice, as Bob Holman joins us for a rollicking conversation about the poetic life he’s led, from his birth in a small town in Kentucky to his decades living in New York City, where – in the words of Henry Louis Gates Jr. – he’s “done more to bring poetry to cafes and bars than anyone since Ferlinghetti.” Holman’s latest works (Life Poem and The Unspoken, published recently by Bowery Books, were written fifty years apart. We’ll ask Bob how he’s changed as a poet and person in those years, and to give us his sense of where poetry has been, where it is now, and where it’s headed.

Poets and writers discussed or mentioned include ee cummings, William Blake, Gregory Corso, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Mayakovsky, the Russian futurists, Kenneth Koch, Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams, Philip Roth, Donald Lev, Jackie Sheeler, Alan Ginsberg, Amiri Baraka, Jayne Cortez, Papa Susso, Pablo Neruda, Homer, Sappho, and Sekou Sundiata.

Help support the show at patreon.com/literature or historyofliterature.com/shop. (We appreciate it!) Find out more at historyofliterature.com, jackewilson.com, or by following Jacke and Mike on Twitter at @thejackewilson and @literatureSC. Or send an email to jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com.

Music Credits:

“Bass Walker” and “Bluesy Vibes Sting” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

The History of Literature #198 – Sylvia Plath

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Sylvia Plath (1932-1963) was born in Boston in 1932, the daughter of a German-born professor, Otto Plath, and his student, Aurelia Schober. After her father died in 1940, Plath’s family moved to Wellesley, Massachusetts, where her mother taught secretarial studies at Boston University and Plath embarked on a path that she would follow the rest of her life: she was a gifted student, she wrote poetry and stories, she won awards and prizes and scholarships – and she began to suffer from the severe depression that would ultimately lead to her death.

Plath’s life, including her incendiary marriage to British poet Ted Hughes, will be discussed in a separate episode. In this episode, we focus on Plath’s poetry, as superfan Mike Palindrome, President of the Literature Supporters Club, selects five poems to introduce Plath: The Applicant, Lady Lazarus, Morning Song, The Colossus, and The Stones.

Help support the show at patreon.com/literature or historyofliterature.com/shop. (We appreciate it!) Find out more at historyofliterature.com, jackewilson.com, or by following Jacke and Mike on Twitter at @thejackewilson and @literatureSC. Or send an email to jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com.

Music Credits:

“Allemande Sting” by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)

Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0 License

http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

The History of Literature #176 – William Carlos Williams (“The Use of Force”)

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Today, the American modernist poet William Carlos Williams (1883-1963) is famous among poetry fans for his vivid, economical poems like “The Red Wheelbarrow” and “This Is Just to Say.” But for most of his lifetime, he struggled to achieve success comparable to those of his contemporaries Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot. Toiling away as a physician in working-class neighborhoods in New Jersey, Williams tried to write poems and short stories whenever he could, often typing for a few minutes in between patient visits. In this episode of The History of Literature, Jacke and Mike take a look at Williams’s incredible short story “The Use of Force,” in which a physician wrestles with a young patient determined to preserve her secret at all costs.

NOTE: This is another self-contained episode of The History of Literature! We read the story for you – no need to read it yourself first (unless you want to!).

Help support the show at patreon.com/literature or historyofliterature.com/shop. (We appreciate it!) Find out more at historyofliterature.com, jackewilson.com, or by following Jacke and Mike on Twitter at @thejackewilson and @literatureSC. Or send an email to jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com.

The History of Literature #156 – The Sonnet

“A sonnet,” said the poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti, “is a moment’s monument.” But who invented the sonnet? Who brought it to prominence? How has it changed over the years? And why does this form continue to be so compelling? In this episode of the History of Literature, we take a brief look at one of literature’s most enduring forms, from its invention in a Sicilian court to the wordless sonnet and other innovative uses.

Professor Bill walked us through a sonnet by Robert Hayden in Episode 97 – Dad Poetry (with Professor Bill).

One of the world’s great sonneteers, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, had her moment in Episode 95 – The Runaway Poets – The Triumphant Love Story of Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Robert Browning.

Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, the lovers whose first words to one another magically form a perfect sonnet, found one another in Episode 53 – Romeo and Juliet.

Support the show at patreon.com/literature. Find out more at historyofliterature.com, jackewilson.com, or by following Jacke and Mike on Twitter at @thejackewilson and @literatureSC. Or send an email to jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com.

The History of Literature #154 – John Milton

John Milton (1608 – 1674) was a revolutionary, a republican, an iconoclast, a reformer, and a  brilliant polemicist, who fearlessly took on both church and king. And he ranks among the greatest poets of all time, a peer of Shakespeare and Homer. Philip Pullman, the author who named his trilogy (His Dark Materials) after a Miltonic phrase, said, “No one, not even Shakespeare, surpasses him in his command of the sound, the music, the weight and taste and texture of English words.” In this episode of the History of Literature, we look at the life and works of one of the seventeenth-century’s greatest individuals.

For more on Satan as a runaway character in Milton’s masterpiece Paradise Lost, try Episode 132 – Top 10 Literary Villains.

We covered the OG blind bard Homer all the way back in Episode 3 – Homer.

For another seventeenth-century writer (who isn’t Shakespeare), try Episode 91 In Which John Donne Decides to Write About a Flea.

Support the show at patreon.com/literature. Find out more at historyofliterature.com, jackewilson.com, or by following Jacke and Mike on Twitter at @thejackewilson and @literatureSC. Or send an email to jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com.

History of Literature Episode #138 – Why Poetry (with Matthew Zapruder)

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In his new book Why Poetry, the poet Matthew Zapruder has issued “an impassioned call for a return to reading poetry and an incisive argument for its accessibility to all readers.” The poet Robert Hass says, “Zapruder on poetry is pure pleasure. His prose is so direct that you have the impression, sentence by sentence, that you are being told simple things about a simple subject and by the end of each essay you come to understand that you’ve been on a very rich, very subtle tour of what’s aesthetically and psychologically amazing about the art of poetry.”

In this episode, Matthew Zapruder joins Jacke for a discussion on why poetry is often misunderstood, and how readers can clear away the misconceptions and return to an appreciation for the charms and power of poetry. Along the way, they discuss poems by W.H. Auden, Brenda Hillman, and John Keats, and the views of critics like Harold Bloom, Giambattista Vico, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and Paul Valery.

Help support the show at patreon.com/literature or historyofliterature.com/shop. Learn more about the show at historyofliterature.com or facebook.com/historyofliterature. Contact the host at jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com or via our new Twitter handle, @thejackewilson.

History of Literature #121 – A Portrait of the Poet as a Young Man – John Ashbery’s Early Life (with Karin Roffman)

In this episode, author Karin Roffman joins Jacke for a conversation about her literary biography of John Ashbery, one of America’s greatest twentieth-century poets. In naming Songs We Know Best: John Ashbery’s Early Life as one of its Notable Books of the Year, The New York Times noted “this first full-fledged biography of the poet is full of rich and fascinating detail.” Mike Palindrome, President of the Literature Supporters Club, also makes a cameo appearance to explain why Ashbery is one of his favorite poets.

Help support the show at patreon.com/literature. Learn more about the show at historyofliterature.com. Contact the host at jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com.

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The History of Literature #102 – Pablo Neruda

Pablo Neruda (1904-1973) lived an eventful life: from his youth in Chile, to the sensational reception of his book Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair (1923), to the career in poetry that led to his winning the Nobel Prize for Literature (1971), to the political activities that made him internationally famous – but which also led to his exile and (possibly) his death. He was an icon of the twentieth century, giving readings of his poetry to stadiums with as many as 100,000 devoted fans, and his poetry – especially his love poems – are still among the most widely read and admired poems in Spanish or any other language. What made his poetry so special? Why did it resonate with the people of Chile (and the world)? And could we see another poet like him? Jacke Wilson takes a look at the life and works of Pablo Neruda.

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Show Notes: 

Contact the host at jackewilsonauthor@gmail.com or by leaving a voicemail at 1-361-4WILSON (1-361-494-5766).

You can find more literary discussion at jackewilson.com and more episodes of the series at historyofliterature.com.

Check out our Facebook page at facebook.com/historyofliterature.

You can follow Jacke Wilson at his Twitter account @WriterJacke. You can also follow Mike and the Literature Supporters Club (and receive daily book recommendations) by looking for @literatureSC.

Music Credits:

Handel – Entrance to the Queen of Sheba” by Advent Chamber Orchestra (From the Free Music Archive / CC by SA).

The History of Literature #100 – The Greatest Books with Numbers in the Title

It’s here! Episode 100! Special guest Mike Palindrome, President of the Literature Supporters Club, returns for a numbers-based theme: what are the greatest works of literature with numbers in the title? Authors discussed include Thomas Pynchon, Dr. Seuss, Alexandre Dumas, Haruki Murakami, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Agatha Christie, Joseph Heller, Charles Dickens, V.S. Naipaul, Arthur Conan Doyle, Graham Greene, Kurt Vonnegut, John Dos Passos, Jules Verne, Arthur C. Clarke, John Buchan, Roberto Bolano, William Shakespeare, J.D. Salinger, Pablo Neruda, John Berryman, George Orwell, and Ray Bradbury.

Show Notes:  Continue reading