The Big Read Blog (Archive)

My Antonia

Washington, DC Portrait of Willa Cather by Carl Van Vechten, 1936. From Library of Congress collection Betty Kort is the former executive director of the Willa Cather Foundation. Based in Red Cloud, Nebraska, the foundation is dedicated to preserving and promoting the understanding and appreciation...
August 18 , 2009 Washington, DC Nebraska prairie by jasminedelilah from Flickr Given his tenure as Poet Laureate of the United States from 2004-2006, it's fair to surmise that Ted Kooser knows a thing or two about inspiration. In Kooser's case, much of that inspiration comes from Nebraska where he'...
May 15, 2009 Washington, DC Yesterday, the Arts Endowment announced 11 new NEA National Heritage Fellows , the best of the best of the nation?s artists working in the folk and traditional arts. Tradition is at the heart of many of the Big Read titles, from the rigid etiquette of ?Old New York? in...
Terry Teachout, Wall Street Journal critic and National Council on the Arts member, shares today on his blog about two authors very close to the hearts of Big Readers. http://www.artsjournal.com/aboutlastnight/2008/08/tt_sacred_to_the_memory.html
May 19, 2008 Weatherford, TX Whenever somebody tells me a picture is worth a thousand words, it makes me so mad I want to spit. This bastard canard has more than a thousand fathers, but the most interesting share of the blame lands on two men who should've known better. A sentence reading ?The...
February 15, 2008 Washington, DC Things ain?t what they used to be. Adam and Eve expelled from Paradise. The Dodgers leaving Vero Beach. Warren Zevon dead. Reading down. The list goes on. There?s a word for this type of melancholy, and it isn?t griping. It?s elegy, from the Greek elegos , meaning a...
August 24, 2007 Washington, DC When I was in graduate school at San Diego State University, I took a seminar in Edith Wharton and Willa Cather that changed my life. The course changed me because it provided the chance to concentrate on the best novels of two truly exceptional writers; to compare...
August 16, 2007 Washington, DC Lucy Maud Montgomery Lucy Maud Montgomery is to Canada what Louisa May Alcott and Laura Ingalls Wilder are to the United States. And I have just returned from communing with her. As well as with Anne Shirely, Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert, and of course, Gilbert Blythe...
January 21, 2007 Fergus Falls, Minnesota The topography of this ancient lake bed presents a seemingly limitless expanse. The prairie winds sweep across its level surface, turning the propellers of generators that provide electric power for rural homes. -- The WPA Guide to Minnesota , 1938 Near as I...
January 19-20, 2007 Baton Rouge, Louisiana "Busted flat in Baton Rouge, waiting for a train/And I's feeling nearly as faded as my jeans. . ." -- Kris Kristofferson, Me and Bobby McGee , as sung by Janis Joplin Waiting for a car, actually. Operating on four hours' sleep, fueled by slushy but...

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