The Big Read Blog (Archive)

National Endowment for the Arts

If a picture's worth a thousand words, then the cover image of the new issue of NEA Arts --- Engaged and Empowered: The Power of Arts Education ---is priceless! The issue's cover is by Inocente, a young artist who came to national attention as the subject of the eponymous short documentary by Sean...
On this day in 1819, Walt Whitman was born into the world. But what if May 31, 1819, never occurred? What would a world without Walt look like? To pay tribute to the "Bard of Democracy," we're imaging what would be lost in a world sans Whitman---and it "ain't" (as Uncle...
Shel Silverstein’s poem, Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout Would Not Take the Garbage Out , captivated me as a scrappy ten-year-old tomboy. Silverstein’s cautionary tale about sloth, wrapped in vivid descriptions of fanciful narrative, fastened the poem to my developing psyche, and made me always rather...
In The Things They Carried , author and Vietnam veteran Tim O'Brien uses fiction to explore war's truths and half-truths, searing memories and distorted perspectives, and its tangle of obscenities and fears. While reading O'Brien's raw, blunt narrative can be a jarring experience, it also contains...
As a classically trained violist, I tend to think of resonance in terms of music. A resonant note hangs in the air after you finish playing, continuing your sound through a rest or the end of a phrase. This draws your audience in, allowing the music to continue even when you are not playing. I am...
Although we’re accustomed to engaging with Willa Cather on the page, there are some words of hers that we were never meant to read. This, of course, is the author’s private correspondence, which she expressly banned from publication or even quotation. So when The Selected Letters of Willa Cather...
“All children, except one, grow up.” So begins one of the world’s great works of children’s literature, Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie. I first read the novel as an adult for a college course, and was immediately enchanted by the adventure, fantasy, and wry observations about that terrifying realm known...
A few weeks ago, a colleague passed along a link to a new series of postage stamps dedicated to the birth of modern art in America. As I browsed the miniature tributes to Georgia O'Keeffe, Man Ray, and Joseph Stella, I wondered how many stamps the United States Postal Service has dedicated to...
When looking for post ideas for the Big Read blog, I often like to browse through our online events calendar for topics. Our Big Read communities always have tons of great events out there, but every once in a while, one will really stand out and make me itch to participate. I had that exact...
The 2013 Poetry Out Loud Finals are just days away---April 29 and 30 at Lisner Auditorium in Washington, DC. Today, we're going back in time to hear last year's POL champ, Kristen Dupard of Mississippi, recite Cornelius Eady's poem, "I'm A Fool to Love You." If you can't make it to DC for the big...

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