#ASMSG Why Bob Dylan’s Songs Are Literature

How has Bob Dylan redefined the way we look at literature? His win is certainly the culmination of a lifetime of writing. No doubt, we are invited to expand our definition of literature. Further, we could begin to see a renewed interest in literary forms within the lyrics of songs.

But songs?

Can songs be literature?

In my book, How To Teach Literature, and in the view of the Nobel Prize Committee, the answer to that question is: Yes.

Songs can be literature. Yes, a song is literature.

It only took the Nobel Committee 20 years of deliberation to reach that conclusion.

In the following article, author and editor Craig Morgan Teicher addresses what is no longer a debatable issue, namely: Why Bob Dylan’s Songs Are Literature.

by Craig Morgan Teicher | October 14, 2016 | New Republic

Yesterday, Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize in Literature, and the writers I know were either horrified or overjoyed. I am in the latter group, a tremendous Dylan fan, though I came to his music not as a teenager but later in life, around the time I had my first child.

But everyone who loves Dylan loves him for his or her own reasons, and enumerating those reasons seems beside the point. After all, Dylan doesn’t need the Nobel to prove his lasting cultural importance. What’s interesting about this Nobel pick is the question it raises: Can music be literature?

My favorite comment about Dylan’s Nobel win came from the poet Matthew Zapruder, who, in response to people complaining that Dylan is not a poet, wrote on Facebook, “Ok, I agree it’s not poetry, but it’s NOT THE NOBEL PRIZE IN POETRY.”

Is Bob Dylan a poet?

No, I don’t think so. But is his work literature? Yes, absolutely, and literature is what the Nobel Prize is for.

His body of work adds up to some of the central literature of our time. And that must include the music that accompanied his lyrics, since lyrics by themselves are not poetry.

There is a common sense that poetry exists in a world of pure language, but a poem is, in fact, both the music and the words. Poetry’s sonic aspects—such as syllable sounds, rhyme, rhythm, assonance, dissonance, and meter—are meant to “accompany” the content, to set the mood, to refer to and elicit a sensory experience related to the emotions and images of the poem. They also refer back to the long history of language, echoing sounds and rhythms of the past, placing the poem in history, linking it to a timeless tradition. Dylan’s lyrics alone don’t compare to a poem, but a complete song—words, music, arrangement, instrumentation, all of it taken together—does.

(Now, this thesis introduces some complications: Does “song” mean a particular performance, a recording of a song, or even musical notation—the abstract idea of the song performed? For now, let’s presume we’re speaking of song recordings, which like books sit on the shelf and are more or less fixed in time.)

Dylan’s lyrics use more poetic techniques than practically anyone’s (Paul Simon and Joni Mitchell are his only peers in the American songwriting canon), but they are not poems, because, without the music to back them up, they don’t have that depth of reference and history that qualifies them as literature.

But if Dylan’s lyrics aren’t quite poems, they’re pretty damn close. Take the first verse of “Desolation Row,” a song that is really a catalog of literary allusions:

Cinderella, she seems so easy.
“It takes one to know one,” she smiles
And puts her hands in her back pockets
Bette Davis style
And in comes Romeo, he’s moaning
“You Belong to Me I Believe”
And someone says, “You’re in the wrong place my friend
You better leave”
And the only sound that’s left
After the ambulances go
Is Cinderella sweeping up
On Desolation Row

This is a song written in what the poet Lucie Brock-Broido would call “long-haired couplets”: long lines that rhyme in groups of twos. (Except Dylan prints each line broken in half, presumably because that’s how they’re stretched over the melody of the song. Poetry is also about how form relates to content.)

This verse is obviously rife with allusion (Cinderella and Romeo meet up here, and Ophelia, Robin Hood, and a host of other famous characters come up later in the song).

As in the best contemporary poetry, Dylan mixes ancient and modern (Cinderella, meet Bette Davis), the quotidian (“back pockets,” “ambulances”), the elevated (Romeo), and the kind of memorable one-liners that lyrics need to be instantly apprehended (“You better leave”).

But Dylan’s got more than allusions and a sense of how words register. In his late masterpiece “Not Dark Yet,” a song about facing mortality, Dylan writes,

“[I] Feel like my soul has turned into steel / I’ve still got the scars that the sun didn’t heal.”

A steel soul is a powerful metaphor for the deadness that comes with age and loss. And if we want to get more technical about it, “steel” here is an objective correlative, T.S. Eliot’s fancy term for an object that signifies an emotion. The cold, unreflecting, inflexible metal, if you conjure it in your mind, makes you feel lonely and tired. That’s the stuff of poetry.

His music is equally literary. Dylan’s sources for the forms, styles, melodies, and even chord changes of his songs are hundreds, if not thousands, of years old—he’s always been an unparalleled interpreter of traditional songs, even as he’s deeply innovated song form. Perhaps his greatest technical innovation comes in lengthy tirades like “Desolation Row” and “Idiot Wind,” parades of repeated verse-chorus-verse structures that remind me of nothing so much as the epic poems of Homer.

Those poems were cast in rhyming stanzas so they could be transmitted orally over generations before they were written down.

Dylan saw a new use for that old form, soldering it to folk- and blues-based music. Homer catalogued the heroes and villains of ancient battles; Dylan does the same with the tropes and myths of his changing times.

Leadbelly with Accordeon.jpgIf Seamus Heaney, himself a Nobel laureate, sourced his voices and rhythms to predecessors like Keats and Yeats and Wordsworth, then Dylan finds his in Lead Belly and Woody Guthrie, as well as the writings of his contemporaries, the Beats (who were influenced by Blake and Baudelaire and Whitman), and the jazz musicians of the 1950s and 60s.

And, of course, just as Dylan was inspired by the writers of his youth, so have most of the writers of the last half-century been inspired by Dylan; his fingerprint is everywhere in literature.

Dylan is like Homer in another significant way. His anonymous sources in the deep history of folk and blues mirror the influences of the ancient poet, who may or may not have been one writer, but who doubtlessly drew together the Greek myths to form The Iliad and The Odyssey.

No, Dylan isn’t a writer of literary books. But perhaps no living artist has shaped the American soul, or plumbed its depths, as profoundly as Bob Dylan. And what’s literature for if not that?

Source: The New Republic

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#BobDylan Wins The #Nobel #Prize For #Literature: “Art is a river that we drink from but do not own”

How To Teach Literature: The Role of Close Reading In Teaching English Language Learners To Read Complex Texts by [Baker, Thomas Jerome]

Press Release

13 October 2016 – The Nobel Prize in Literature 2016: The Nobel Prize in Literature for 2016 is awarded to Bob Dylan “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”.

Bob Dylan won the 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature, and I may be one of the few people on Earth who was not surprised, not shocked, not astonished by the news. Really. I wrote about Bob Dylan in Chapter 2 of this book. I noted that if he didn’t win in 2016, then he would win in 2017. If not 2017, then 2020 would be all right.

Bob Dylan winning the Noble Prize for Literature was clearly inevitable. In his case, it’s sooner rather than later. Wait. It’s later rather than sooner. Did you know that Bob Dylan was nominated for the Nobel every year since 1996? It took the Nobel Prize Committee 20 years to have the courage to recognize that Bob Dylan had redefined the notion of what literature is.

What is literature?

In my book, How To Teach Literature, I answer that question:

If what we read entertains us, speaks to us, or makes us aware of the human condition, then it is literature. With Bob Dylan finally winning the Nobel Prize for Literature, my definition is not even debatable. As Dylan has written, “The Times They Are A’Changing.” Teachers of literature need to change with the times and broaden our horizons on what we consider to be, “literature.”

How to best teach literature? That’s what my book is about. Specifically, I share my knowledge about teaching literature, gained from 15 years teaching experience. This book is intended for students of English Language and Literature Teaching. New and experienced teachers will find it a useful resource also.

Informed by theory and practice, it explores current approaches of teaching close reading of complex texts. It is applicable to instructional settings from middle school to university. It promotes integrated teaching of the four skills. Critical literacy is promoted for engaging with and interpreting literary and informational texts. Readers will have opportunities to engage with poetry, fiction, and informational texts.

What if you disagree with Bob Dylan winning the Nobel Prize for Literature? What if you disagree with my definition of literature? Then, in that case, both Bob Dylan and myself would hope that you treat us kind.

In the words of Bob Dylan, “I can write you poems, make a strong man lose his mind / I’m no pig without a wig, I hope you treat me kind.”

High Water (For Charley Patton)

High water risin’ – risin’ night and day
all the gold and silver are being stolen away
big joe turner lookin’ east and west

from the dark room of his mind
he made it to kansas city
twelfth street and vine
nothing standing there
high water everywhere
High water risin’, the shacks are slidin’ down
folks lose their possessions – folks are leaving town
bertha mason shook it – broke it
then she hung it on a wall
says, “you’re dancin’ with whom they tell you to
or you don’t dance at all.”
it’s tough out there
high water everywhere
I got a cravin’ love for blazing speed
got a hopped up mustang ford
jump into the wagon, love, throw your panties overboard
i can write you poems, make a strong man lose his mind
i’m no pig without a wig
i hope you treat me kind
things are breakin’ up out there
high water everywhere
High water risin’, six inches ‘bove my head
coffins droppin’ in the street
like balloons made out of lead
water pourin’ into vicksburg, don’t know what i’m going to do
“don’t reach out for me,” she said
“can’t you see i’m drownin’ too?”
it’s rough out there
high water everywhere
Well, george lewis told the englishman, the italian and the jew
“you can’t open your mind, boys
to every conceivable point of view.”
they got charles darwin trapped out there on highway five
judge says to the high sheriff,
“i want him dead or alive
either one, i don’t care.”
high water everywhere
The cuckoo is a pretty bird, she warbles as she flies
i’m preachin’ the word of god
i’m puttin’ out your eyes
i asked fat nancy for something to eat, she said, “take it off the shelf –
as great as you are a man,
you’ll never be greater than yourself.”
i told her i didn’t really care
high water everywhere
I’m getting’ up in the morning – i believe i’ll dust my broom
keeping away from the women
i’m givin’ ’em lots of room
thunder rolling over clarksdale, everything is looking blue
i just can’t be happy, love
unless you’re happy too
it’s bad out there
high water everywhere
Writer(s): Bob Dylan

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#IAmWithHer: Why I’m Voting For #HillaryClinton2016


Hillary’s Accomplishments In 30 Years of Public Service

Thirty years is a long time to be a public servant. According to Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton hasn’t done anything in 30 years. According to “the Donald”, he thinks he can use Hillary’s husband, President Bill Clinton, to attack Hillary Clinton. I beg to differ.

Donald, I disagree, respectfully, with everything you say, and everything you do.

Donald Trump’s attack on a woman who is running for President of the United States, by referring to her husband’s conduct, is unacceptable to me. In fact, it is reprehensible, and an outrage. I hasten to add, inadmisible, at least for a “real man.”

If “the Donald” were a real man, if “the Donald” truly has an issue with President Bill Clinton, isn’t it the manly thing to do for Donald Trump to take up the issue with Bill Clinton, rather than Bill Clinton’s wife?

Let’s put the shoe on the other foot.

How would “the Donald” feel if President Bill Clinton decided to take up your conduct, with your wife? Melania isn’t running for President of the USA. You are. The Republican Party #GOP candidate is Donald J. Trump.

“The Donald”, you are the one who was caught on camera bragging about kissing women without their consent, and grabbing a woman’s genitals. Let us not forget you were 59 years old at the time, and your wife was pregnant at the time you were bragging to Billy Bush about sexual assault on women.

In the second debate, in St. Louis, you lied about it Donald. First you tried to apologize, but clearly you did not mean the apology (you are never wrong, so you never apologize). You weren’t contrite, you were defiant. You said your bragging was just “locker room talk.” You said it was just “words.”

You said you were just telling a lie, building yourself up by telling a macho story to Billy Bush. Well, words matter. Donald, your words got Billy Bush fired. Now he needs a job. Got any openings Billy can fill?

Words matter Donald. Nancy O’Dell, the woman you objectified with your “locker room talk”, said:

Politics aside, I’m saddened that these comments still exist in our society at all,” she wrote. “When I heard the comments yesterday, it was disappointing to hear such objectification of women. The conversation needs to change because no female, no person, should be the subject of such crass comments, whether or not cameras are rolling. Everyone deserves respect no matter the setting or gender. As a woman who has worked very hard to establish her career, and as a mom, I feel I must speak out with the hope that as a society we will always strive to be better.” (end of quote)

In my experience, athletes don’t talk like that in the locker room. Men don’t talk like that. Not even inexperienced, immature high school boys talk like that.

I don’t know what kind of locker rooms you have been in, but as an athlete who played on football teams, basketball teams, and baseball teams, nobody talked about grabbing a woman’s genitals or kissing women without their consent. Nobody. Not even our “star” players.

Donald, you do know that grabbing a woman’s genitals is a crime, sexual assault? For that kind of behaviour, you can go to jail. Even you, Donald Trump. You could be locked up for a long time. So in that second debate in St. Louis, you were wise to deny that your words were true. It would have gotten you locked up in St. Louis if you had confirmed your words. But of course, it was only “locker room talk.”

Donald Trump, I read somewhere that Mark Cuban, owner of NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, offered you ten $10 million dollars for a 4-hour interview about your policies. He said he would give the money to a charity of your choice, or, he would write the check to you if you need the money. Donald, you could talk with Mark Cuban about your “locker room” policy on how you talk about women. Let me quote Mark Cuban:

“$10mm to the charity of YOUR choice if you let ME interview you for 4 hrs on YOUR policies and their substance,” Cuban wrote.

Groundrules are that you can’t mention the Clintons or discuss anything other than the details and facts of [your] plans and no one else is in the room to help,” he continued. “Just me, you and a broadcast crew. Deal?”

Donald, it is certain that there is more damaging audio and videos out there that are yet to be brought to the light of day, so going to jail for sexual assault is still a reality for you. But wait.

Just because somebody accuses you of wrongdoing, it doesn’t mean you are guilty, does it? Of course not, especially if there is”absolutely no merit to the allegations, and the matter was ultimately settled without any finding of liability and without any admission of wrongdoing whatsoever.” Wouldn’t you agree?

Then why does it not work the same way for President Bill Clinton?

Why does it not work the same way for the Central Park Five?

Donald, does the law work one way for you, and another way for other people?

You got a trial. President Bill Clinton got a trial. The Central Park Five got a trial.

Donald, are any Black people still hounding you about the outcome of your trial? There was no merit to the allegations, you settled that case with no admission of wrongdoing. And Black people are not hounding you accusing you of a crime. You answered your accusers in court. You defended yourself.

Isn’t that what happened to President Bill Clinton?

Isn’t that what happened to the Central Park Five? Wait, that isn’t what happened to the Central Park Five. They were wrongfully convicted of a murder they did not commit.  The Central Park Five sued the city for their wrongful prosecution and received a $40 million settlement in 2014, $1 million for every year of their lives wrongfully spent behind bars. Shortly after the news of the settlement broke, Donald Trump published an op-ed in the New York Daily News calling it “a disgrace.”

What is it with you Donald, when you don’t like the way the law works?

Just like you refused to accept the law in the Central Park Five case, you also refused to accept President Obama’s birth certificate, and you also refused to accept the law in President Bill Clinton’s case. In what reality do you live in?

When the law speaks, Donald Trump, whether you like it or no, you have to let people move on with their life. People should not have to publically embarrass you, like President Obama did, before you will accept reality. Sometimes Donald, you lose, and that’s real. That’s the reality people live with.

Of course, you are presumed innocent until proven guilty. You would have the opportunity to defend yourself. A defense lawyer would present the evidence that supported your claim of innocence. You could even make a deal, a settlement, a financial arrangement Donald.

You have done that so many times in the past, haven’t you?

According to an analysis by USA Today published in June 2016, over the previous three decades, “Trump and his businesses have been involved in 3,500 legal cases in U.S. federal courts and state court, an unprecedented number for a U.S. presidential candidate“. (source: Wikipedia)

Let’s pivot off of your attack on President Bill Clinton.We both know, he’s been out of office for 17 years now. He’s not running for President. His wife, Hillary Clinton, she is running for President.

You claimed, (quote) “Hillary hadn’t done anything in 30 years.” (end of quote)

So, at the presidential debate in St. Louis that she won (and you lost) I was happy when Secretary Hillary Clinton took the opportunity to clarify her record of public service, in terms of her accomplishments, so clear that even you understood. You called her a fighter, a woman who fights for what she believes in, a woman who never gives up. For once in your life, Donald, you told the truth, fully and completely.

Secretary Hillary Clinton is special. She is all of what you said about her, a fighter, and much more.

When Secretary Hillary Clinton spoke about her accomplishments, it was a moment that made me realize how much she has done for other people in the past 30 years. You lied about her Donald. You tried to paint her as incompetent.

The truth is, Donald Trump, you have done so little, while she has done so much (quote):

Hillary Clinton: “Look, he has now said [about me] repeatedly “30 years this, and 30 years that.” So let me talk about my 30 years in public service. I’m very glad to do so.

  • Eight million kids, every year, have health insurance because when I was First Lady, I worked with Democrats and Republicans to create the children’s health insurance program.
  • Hundreds of thousands of kids now have a chance to be adopted because I worked to change our adoption and foster care system.
  • After 9/11, I went to work with Republican mayor, governor and president to rebuild New York and to get health care for our first responders who were suffering because they had run toward danger and gotten sickened by it.
  • Hundreds of thousands of National Guard and reserve members have health care because of work that I did.
  • And children have safer medicines because I was able to pass a law that required the dosing to be more carefully done.
  • When I was secretary of state, I went around the world advocating for our country, but also advocating for women’s rights to make sure that women had a decent chance to have a better life.
  • And negotiated a treaty with Russia to lower nuclear weapons. 400 pieces of legislation have my name on it as a sponsor or cosponsor when I was a senator for eight years.
  • I worked very hard and was very proud to be re-elected in new York by an even bigger margin than I had been elected the first time.
  • And as president, I will take that work, that bipartisan work, that finding common ground because you have to be able to get along with people to get things done in Washington. I’ve proven that I can and for 30 years, I’ve produced results.”
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#FelizLunes How To Teach Literature: The Role of Close Reading In Teaching English Language Learners To Read Complex Texts #mondaymotivation #HappyMonday #Mondayblogs

How To Teach Literature: The Role of Close Reading In Teaching English Language Learners To Read Complex Texts by [Baker, Thomas Jerome]



If what we read entertains us, speaks to us, or makes us aware of the human condition, then it is literature. How to best teach literature?


I share my knowledge about teaching literature, gained from 15 years teaching experience. This book is intended for students of English Language and Literature Teaching.


How To Teach Literature


New and experienced teachers will find it a useful resource also. Informed by theory and practice, it explores current approaches of teaching close reading of complex texts.

It is applicable to instructional settings from middle school to university. It promotes integrated teaching of the four skills. Critical literacy is promoted for engaging with and interpreting literary and informational texts. Readers will have opportunities to engage with poetry, fiction, and informational texts.


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#LeBron James: Why I’m endorsing #HillaryClinton

LeBron James kids children LeBron James Family Foundation

“Register to vote, Show up to the polls, and Vote For Hillary Clinton.”                         LeBron James endorses Hillary Clinton for president. “We need a president who understands our community and will build on the legacy of President Obama.                                         (LeBron James Family Foundation)

Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James is endorsing Hillary Clinton for president. Below is the op-ed he has written about his decision, which he has exclusively provided to Business Insider. The op-ed will also be published in the print edition of the Akron Beacon Journal on Monday.

Two years ago, I told you I was coming home to Northeast Ohio — where I was born and raised. When I came back, I had two missions.

In June, thanks to my teammates and all your support, I accomplished my on-the-court mission. We came back from being down 3-1 in the NBA Finals to finally grab what we’ve waited 52 long years for: a championship in Northeast Ohio.

Holding that trophy was beyond words. It still hasn’t hit me. But for me, coming home was never just about basketball.

As a kid, I didn’t have much money. It was just my mom and me, and things were rough at times. But I had basketball. That gave me a family, a community, and an education. That’s more than a lot of children in Akron can say. There are a lot of people who want to tell kids who grew up like me and looked like me that they just don’t have anything to look forward to.

That’s dead wrong. And that’s why I came back to Cleveland to continue my second mission. I am determined to make sure my kids in Akron have what they need to become their best selves. Opportunities, a support system, and a safety net for kids in poverty or kids in single-parent households shouldn’t be limited to those lucky enough to be blessed with athletic talent.

When I entered the league, I founded the LeBron James Family Foundation. I didn’t know it at the time, but my mission has become clear. We give kids in Akron the resources and opportunities they need to stay in school and reach their dreams through education.

I don’t want to see any of them fall through the cracks. That easily could have happened to me.

But I was fortunate enough to have support and mentors around me who kept me on the right path. That’s what we’re giving these kids through my foundation. And when someone believes in you, that changes everything.

I’m so proud of the more than 1,100 students in my Wheels for Education and Akron I PROMISE Network programs. We’re working on year six now, and my kids have big plans for their futures.

A lot of them didn’t think college was for them, but now I hear they want to become things like doctors and business owners. We even have a future astrophysicist. I can’t wait to see how far these kids can go.

I also tell all my kids how important it is that they give back to the community. Because if basketball has taught me anything, it’s that no one achieves greatness alone. And it takes everyone working together to create real change.

When I look at this year’s presidential race, it’s clear which candidate believes the same thing. Only one person running truly understands the struggles of an Akron child born into poverty. And when I think about the kinds of policies and ideas the kids in my foundation need from our government, the choice is clear.

That candidate is Hillary Clinton.

Barack Obama Hillary Clinton

Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton at the Democratic National Convention.Alex Wong/Getty Images

I support Hillary because she will build on the legacy of my good friend, President Barack Obama. I believe in what President Obama has done for our country and support her commitment to continuing that legacy.

Like my foundation, Hillary has always been a champion for children and their futures. For over 40 years, she’s been working to improve public schools, expand access to health care, support children’s hospitals, and so much more.

She wants to make sure kids have access to a good education, no matter what zip code they live in. She’ll rebuild schools that are falling apart and put more money into computer science. She’ll make sure teachers are paid what they deserve so they can give everything to their students.

She also has plans to make college a reality for more people in America, especially for those who can’t afford it. My kids in Akron are proof of the hope and motivation that come from knowing college can be in their future, no matter what obstacles they might be facing.

Finally, we must address the violence, of every kind, the African-American community is experiencing in our streets and seeing on our TVs. I believe rebuilding our communities by focusing on at-risk children is a significant part of the solution. However, I am not a politician, I don’t know everything it will take finally to end the violence. But I do know we need a president who brings us together and keeps us unified. Policies and ideas that divide us more are not the solution. We must all stand together — no matter where we are from or the color of our skin. And Hillary is running on the message of hope and unity that we need.

There’s still a lot of work to be done in Akron, Northeast Ohio, and all across our great country. We need a president who understands our community and will build on the legacy of President Obama. So let’s register to vote, show up to the polls, and vote for Hillary Clinton.

This is an editorial. The opinions and conclusions expressed above are those of the author.

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#LeBron James, the most influential person in the major swing state of #Ohio, endorses #HillaryClinton

LeBron James

LeBron James at an event for his Akron, Ohio-based philanthropy, the LeBron James Family Foundation. James has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president.         Ty Wright/Getty Images

LeBron James has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president.

The Akron, Ohio-based NBA star exclusively announced his decision in an op-ed published on Business Insider Sunday evening. His op-ed will also run in the local paper, the Akron Beacon Journal, which has endorsed Clinton for president.

In the op-ed, James wrote that his endorsement decision came down to a few factors.

James has spent significant time and money building up his hometown of Akron, mentoring local students and, in some cases, paying for their college tuition through the LeBron James Family Foundation. He said he feels Clinton is the only candidate who “understands the struggles of an Akron child born into poverty.”

Clinton, James said, is also the best candidate to carry out President Barack Obama’s legacy.

James is close with the president and helped him campaign in 2008. A source close to James said he and Obama know each other socially and occasionally text about basketball. Obama sent James a congratulatory text after his team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, overcame a 3-1 deficit in the NBA finals and beat the Golden State Warriors in game 7.

obama lebron james

LeBron James says he decided to endorse Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump for president in part because he feels she will carry on Barack Obama’s legacy. James calls Obama a “good friend.”White House via Flickr

Additionally, James said the US needs a president who will bring the country closer.

“I do know we need a President who brings us together and keeps us unified,” he wrote in the op-ed. “Policies and ideas that divide us more are not the solution. We must all stand together – no matter where we are from or the color of our skin. And Hillary is running on the message of hope and unity that we need.”

James’ endorsement could aid Clinton in one of the election’s critical swing states, Ohio, where she and Donald Trump are currently battling for votes. Recent polls have shown Trump with a slight lead in the bellweather state.

It’s somewhat unusual for an athlete like James, who has hundreds of millions of sponsorship dollars on the line, to take a stand. But increasingly, athletes are making their opinions known on hot-button issues.

NFL player Colin Kaepernick, for example, has been kneeling during the national anthem to protest perceived racial injustice. James, along with fellow NBA stars Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony, and Dwyane Wade, opened ESPN’s ESPY awards this year with a discussion about gun violence.

In an August interview, Business Insider asked James why he isn’t afraid to speak out. James said, “If it feels right to me, then I believe it should be spoke upon.”

You can read James’ full op-ed and endorsement of Hillary Clinton here.

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How To Teach English Literature: Resources, Strategies and Tips #ASMSG

How To Teach English Literature

This textbook is intended for students of English Literature Teaching as well as new and experienced teachers of English Literature.

Written by Thomas Jerome Baker, author of 168 books and a teacher of English with 15 years classroom experience, it explores current methods of teaching literature. It is applicable to instructional settings from middle school to university. It promotes a wide range of different critical approaches and tools for engaging with and interpreting texts. The author believes literature instruction should be organized around topics and issues of interest to students. Throughout the textbook, readers are encouraged to formulate and pursue inquiry-based questions in response to the issues and concerns that arouse their curiosity, enthusiasm and intellectual energies.

Coming out in October 2016


Posted in Authors, Baccalaureate, Cover Reveal, Education, EFL, Higher Education Teaching & Learning, Reflections, Research, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Voting Rights Act: Exercise Your Right To #Vote on #ElectionDay

Join us.
Are you registered to vote?

I am.

I was born in Louisiana at a time when, if you had the wrong skin color and tried to register to vote or cast a ballot, you might be forced to pass a literacy test, pay a poll tax, or even face the threat of physical violence.

51 years ago today, that changed dramatically when President Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law.

It was a profound victory for families like mine — and it’s why I celebrate this anniversary every year, and why I hope you’ll join with me to commit to exercising this hard-won right on Election Day.

I’ve made it my life’s work to fight alongside the Democratic Party to protect the right to vote against efforts to erect new barriers.

I wish it was a fight we weren’t still fighting in the year 2016 — but in the three years since the Supreme Court profoundly weakened the protections of the VRA in Shelby County v. Holder, Republican-led state legislatures across the country have set to work making it harder for the folks the law used to protect to vote.

By rolling back early voting, eliminating same-day registration, implementing new photo ID laws, and more, Republican politicians are systematically targeting women, communities of color, working families, students, first-generation Americans, the elderly — all people who, it just so happens, tend not to be the ones supporting the GOP on Election Day.

The good news is, with a string of recent rulings across the nation, our courts are stepping up and striking down these laws one by one by calling them out for what they really are — partisan ploys to disenfranchise voters inclined to support Democrats.

Each decision has been a step in the right direction, but we still have our work cut out for us. Democrats believe that we are stronger together, and stronger when every voice can be heard at the ballot box.

Thomas, join me today in committing to vote for leaders who share that belief and will continue fighting alongside us:


Thanks for being part of this,


Donna Brazile
Democratic National Committee

Join us.

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The Lost Art Of Love Letters: A Gift of Romance For Christmas, Valentine, Birthday, or Anniversary #MondayMotivation


The Lost Art Of Love Letters Learn how to write a love letter. Love letters are immortal. Love letters live forever. In a world dominated by technology and social media, hand-written love letters are still worthwhile. Love letters should not be considered out-dated, old-fashioned, and definitely, not a lost art. Love letters live forever and one day more.

Love letters take on their immortal character when the letter comes from the depths of your heart and soul. Your innermost thoughts and feelings, when received by the person you love, will be a treasured memory for all the days to come. In fact, this book shows many examples of immortal love letters.

These love letters live on and on and on, even past the time when both the writer and receiver have long disappeared from the face of the Earth.

Love lives on. That is why I make the effort in this book to motivate you, dear reader, to write love letters to the one you love. A special occasion such as Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, a birthday or anniversary would be a perfect time to write a love letter to your beloved. It is a unique and incredibly personal gift that your partner will treasure forever.Who knows? It is possible that you might take up writing love letters as a fundamental part of your relationship.

Let me leave you with a final thought. As you read this book, you will find out that the most beautiful and most profound love letter was never delivered. Written, yes, but never did the person who it was meant for, never did that person see the letter. Let me conclude by saying that no matter how beautiful a love letter may be, it must be delivered. Don’t forget that part.

The Lost Art Of Love Letters


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The Story Of A Man Named #Valentine

The Lost Art Of Love Letters: A Romantic Gift For Christmas, Valentine, Birthday, Anniversary, or Holiday by [Baker, Thomas Jerome]All over the world, people celebrate Valentines Day. Nonetheless, few people know much about its history.

Nowadays, it has become an excuse to spend money on flowers (roses), chocolate, romantic dinners and even more romantic getaways.

Just another commercial holiday, in other words.

The Story of a Man Named Valentine

Mr. Valentine lived in the third century AD in Terni, Italy. According to the legend, Valentines Day goes back to this Italian Bishop, Saint Valentine. He would secretly marry people. He did this against an existing prohibition. It is said that if you wanted to get married, he was the man to go to. He went so far as to marry slaves or soldiers. Imagine that, slaves and soldiers getting married. What good could come of that?

Worse even, Bishop Valentine married people in the Christian tradition. Thus, he was breaking the prohibition of the Roman emperor. In that time, Christianity was banned as a religion. So Valentine was definitely playing with fire. If the emperor found out, Valentine would be fed to the lions.

As you might expect, Bishop Valentine’s luck ran out. He got caught. No, he wasn’t fed to the lions. The emperor had him beheaded. It’s not too difficult to guess what day of the year Bishop Valentin lost his head.

Yes, on February 14 (did you guess correctly?), in the year 269, by order of the Emperor Claudius II, Bishop Valentin was executed. In this way, he became a martyr of the Christian faith. Legend also has it that while in jail, awaiting execution, Bishop Valentine left a farewell note for the jailer’s daughter, who had become his friend, and he signed it “From Your Valentine.”

This is a great story, but in all fairness, the exact origins and identity of the man named Valentine are unclear. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, “At least three different Saint Valentines, all of them martyrs, are mentioned in the early martyrologies under the date of 14 February.”

One was a priest in Rome, the second one was a bishop of Interamna (now Terni, Italy) and the third St. Valentine was a martyr in the Roman province of Africa.

Legends vary on how the martyr’s name became connected with romance. The date of his death may have become mingled with the Feast of Lupercalia, a pagan festival of love.

On these occasions, the names of young women were placed in a box, from which they were drawn by the men as chance directed. In 496 AD, Pope Gelasius decided to put an end to the Feast of Lupercalia, and he declared that February 14 be celebrated as St Valentine’s Day.

Lupercalia, known as, The Feast of the Wolf, was the festival of the Roman Goddess Lupa (the female Wolf). She was worshiped in the form of the goddess Juno Februata, the Goddess of “Love Fever”.

On this day, flowers were sacrificed and couples apparently connected by “love lottery” for one year. Girls went to the temple, to consult the love oracle.

Young men drew from the lottery an unmarried girls name.

The drawn couples walked along the river Tiber and many of them became lovers.

About 100 years after his death, Valentine was canonized. In the Middle Ages, 496 AD, 200 years later, Pope Gelasius declared February 14 the existing holidays and customs to the Christian faith, and now called it the day of lovers “Valentine’s Day”.

Thus, the old pagan tradition was assimilated into the Christian tradition, under a new name. Same game, just a new name, left everybody happy it seems. The people had a celebration, and Christianity was able to loosen the grip of pagan practices over the people. As Shakespeare’s Juliet would famously say:

“What’s in a name?  A rose by any other name would still smell as sweet.”

The Lost Art Of Love Letters: A Romantic Gift For Christmas, Valentine, Birthday, Anniversary, or Holiday by [Baker, Thomas Jerome]Valentine’s Day in England

Since the Middle Ages, royalty, aristocrats, writers and poets have happily adorned their love offerings with Chaucer’s images of mating birds and Cupid with his quiver of arrows. Lovers, whether royal or rustic, exchanged Valentine’s Day love tokens in keeping with their position: elegant poems with musical accompaniment, precious medals, works of art, or simple nosegays of flowers and handmade gifts. Usually, the Valentine gift was a serious declaration of love, and often a formal invitation to marriage. Valentine’s Day could also be a playful occasion. On February 14, 1667, the writer, Samuel Pepys, wrote in his diary:

“This morning come up to my wife’s bedside, I being up dressing myself, little Will Mercer to be her Valentine; and brought her name writ upon blue paper in gold letters, done by himself, very pretty; and we were both well pleased with it. But I am also this year my wife’s Valentine, and it will cost me 5 pounds; but that I must have laid out if we had not been Valentines. So to bed.”

On February 14, 1383, the poet Chaucer performed his poem “The Parliament of Fowls” for King Richard II. The Parliament of Fowls (Birds) has 699 lines and has the form of a dream vision of the narrator. The poem is one of the first references to the idea that St. Valentine’s Day was a special day for lovers.

The plot is about the narrator who dreams that he passes through a beautiful landscape, through the dark temple of Venus to the bright sunlight. Dame Nature sees over a large flock of birds who are gathered to choose their mates. The birds have a parliamentary debate while three male eagles try to seduce a female bird. The debate is full of speeches and insults. At the end, none of the three eagles wins the female eagle. The dream ends welcoming the coming spring.

The Tudor House

“Seynte Valentine of custome yeere by yeere
Men have an usance, in this regioun
To loke and serche Cupides kalendar,
And chose theyr choyse by grete affeccioun,
Such has been move with Cupides nocioun,
Takying theyre choyse as theyre sort doth falle;
But I love oon whiche excelleth alle.”
(Valentine Letter sent from Henry V to Catherine of Valois, 1420)

In 1420, Henry V hired John Lydgate to compose a Valentine greeting to Catherine of Valois. The tradition of love letters, poetry and Saint Valentine’s Day continued in the royal Tudor line. It is perhaps to Henry VIII that we owe the survival of Saint Valentine’s Day, for he made it a national holiday in England by Royal Decree, in 1537.

“And, cosyn, uppon Fryday is Sent Volentynes Day, and every byrdde chesyth hym a make [mate] and yf it lyke yowe to come one Thursday at nyght, and so purvey yowe, that ye may abyde there tyll Monday, I trusty to God that ye schall so speke to myn husband; and I schall prey that we schall bryng the mater to a conclusion.”
(The Paston Letters, no. 782)

In England, Valentine’s Day was a day for the formal negotiation of arranged marriages, as well as courtship. In this correspondence from 1477 we have a letter from Dame Margery Brews proposing that John Paston marry her daughter. In the body of correspondence from which this letter is drawn there is also one from the daughter, Margery, that indicates she was indeed interested in the match.

The practice of sending actual St. Valentine’s Day cards originates in England circa 1400.  What is referred to as the first actual Valentine is a letter written in 1416 by Frenchman Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife during his imprisonment in the Tower of London.

This first Valentine itself is bittersweet as she died before it could reach her as the Duke was imprisoned in various English castles for nearly 25 years.

The original letter still exists and is held at the British Library in London.

Incidentally the oldest surviving Valentine written in English is also held there.  This was written by Margery Brews of Norfolk to her fiance John Paxston in 1477.

The practice of sending hand-written Valentine’s Day cards does indeed first appear circa 1400 in England.  Another long-standing belief is that King Henry VIII established February 14 as St. Valentines’ Day in a royal decree in 1537.  By 1601 St. Valentine’s Day has become part of England’s “popular consciousness to the extent that…William Shakespeare mentions it in Ophelia’s lament in Hamlet:

“Tomorrow is Saint Valentine’s [D]ay

All in the morning betime

And I a maid at your window

To be your Valentine.” [2]

By the 17th century it became commonplace for friends and lovers from all social classes to exchange small tokens of affection like hand-made cards, chocolates, and small gifts on St. Valentine’s Day.  Some of these traditions found themselves brought to America with the colonists.  In fact their popularity grew with imported “writers” from England that were actually booklets that had various “be my Valentine” messages that one could copy onto decorative paper and send.  One popular “writer” even had responses.

Late 18th century and early 19th century Valentines were often religious in nature.  It wasn’t until 1847 that the first American mass-produced Valentine made from–what else but–English imported embossed paper and lace was produced.  They were created and sold by Esther Howland of Winchester, MA, who is commonly referred to as “The Mother of the Valentine”.

“The popularity of sending and receiving [Valentine’s] cards [in England] grew alongside the improvement in postal services and methods of printing to the point in the 1830s where postmen needed refreshments to help with the unprecedented number of cards they had to deliver.” [3]  In America the Valentine didn’t truly become a tradition until during the Civil War (1861-1865) “when [V]alentine cards often depicted sweethearts parting, or a tent with flaps that opened to reveal a soldier.” [4]

Vintage Valentine

“By 1900 printed cards began to replace hand-written letters due to improvements in printing technology.  [Indeed] [r]eady-made cards were an easy way for people to express their emotions in a time when direct expression of one’s feelings were discouraged.”  It was in the Victorian era with advancements in printing and then the introduction of the “penny post” that sending Valentines became even more popular.

The penny postcard Valentines were most popular during 1890-1917.   Sometime in the late 1800s sending Valentine’s cards fell out of fashion only to be revived sometime in the 1920s.  Contrary to what some believe–Hallmark did not create this holiday.  Hallmark’s first Valentine card was not produced until 1913.

Valentine’s Day now accounts for 25% of the cards sent each year according to the Greeting Card Association.   Today 180 million Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged in a holiday that in 2014 reached $17 billion in spending.


Nowadays, beyond commercialism, Valentine’s Day reminds us of the desire of love and pleasure. St. Valentine did not care about rules, class, or social status and did give love its proper Christian sanction. This he did, no matter if rich or poor, slave or soldier.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

“In the flush of love’s light, we dare be brave. And suddenly we see that love costs all we are, and will ever be. Yet it is only love which sets us free.” – Maya Angelou

The Lost Art Of Love Letters: A Romantic Gift For Christmas, Valentine, Birthday, Anniversary, or Holiday by [Baker, Thomas Jerome]The Lost Art Of Love Letters

Available Now For PreOrder 

Don’t Wait For Valentine’s Day

When was the last time you got a love letter? When was the last time you wrote a love letter? Now that writing love letters is a lost art, what better gift can you give the one you love than an old-fashioned, authentic, hand written, love letter!

The Lost Art Of Love Letters


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