Reading Room Blog

11/06/2009 - 4:55pm

Even if you've never heard the song, "I Am Woman (Hear Me Roar)," which topped the charts in 1972 and became an anthem of sorts for the women's lib movement (oh, and won a Grammy), you will enjoy these stories featuring heroines who grapple with the big challenges and mysteries of life. Ranging from hilarious to heart-breaking, there's something for everyone.

11/03/2009 - 1:52pm

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

We haven’t shown you many poems in which the poet enters another person and speaks through him or her, but it is, of course, an effective and respected way of writing. Here Philip Memmer of Deansboro, N.Y., enters the persona of a young woman having an unpleasant experience with a blind date.

The Paleontologist’s Blind Date

11/03/2009 - 1:47pm

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

I love poems in which the central metaphors are fresh and original, and here’s a marvelous, coiny description of autumn by Elizabeth Klise von Zerneck, who lives in Illinois.

Like Coins, November

We drove past late fall fields as flat and cold
as sheets of tin and, in the distance, trees

were tossed like coins against the sky. Stunned gold
and bronze, oaks, maples stood in twos and threes:

09/27/2016 - 9:02am

Although zombies have a long history of appearances in religion and folklore, interest in them as villains in horror films is largely confined to the second half of the 20th century. The explosion in zombie popularity is based on a characterization established by a single film and the fact that the original characterization of the zombi in African folklore and religion, as well as in earlier films, is dramatically different from that of the popular characterization from the 1960s onward. To understand zombies in both their original context and in the role they have come to take in popular culture requires an understanding of two divergent traditions.

10/26/2009 - 11:57am

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

We haven’t shown you many poems in which the poet enters another person and speaks through him or her, but it is, of course, an effective and respected way of writing. Here Philip Memmer of Deansboro, N.Y., enters the persona of a young woman having an unpleasant experience with a blind date.

The Paleontologist’s Blind Date

10/22/2009 - 3:43pm

Check out "Books With Bite," featuring vampires, werewolves and other fictional creatures that go bump in the night.

10/21/2009 - 7:50pm

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

It’s likely that if you found the original handwritten manuscript of T. S. Eliot’s groundbreaking poem, “The Waste Land,” you wouldn’t be able to trade it for a candy bar at the Quick Shop on your corner. Here’s a poem by David Lee Garrison of Ohio about how unsuccessfully classical music fits into a subway.

Bach in the DC Subway

10/21/2009 - 7:46pm

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

Though some teacher may have made you think that all poetry is deadly serious, chock full of coded meanings and obscure symbols, poems, like other works of art, can be delightfully playful. Here Bruce Guernsey, who divides his time between Illinois and Maine, plays with a common yam.


Yam

The potato that ate all its carrots,
can see in the dark like a mole,

its eyes the scars
from centuries of shovels, tines.

May spelled backwards
because it hates the light,

10/21/2009 - 7:43pm

BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

An aubade is a poem about separation at dawn, but as you’ll see, this one by Dore Kiesselbach, who lives in Minnesota, is about the complex relationship between a son and his mother.


Aubade

10/09/2009 - 12:13pm

America’s tendency to associate Dracula, the Wolf Man, "Frankenstein," and zombies of all stripes with Halloween is so embedded in our culture that we frequently forget that most of these creatures--or at least the versions of them we best remember--are relatively recent creations that are often less than two centuries old. This series explores the origins and evolution of Halloween’s and Hollywood's best-loved ghouls and beasts.

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