The Big Read Blog (Archive)

NEA

On June 4, we announced the 2013 NEA Heritage Fellows . Holy moly, with nine states represented, could there be a more diverse range of artisans in terms of talent and geography? After you peruse their astounding biographies and compelling work samples, be sure to check out the Heritage Fellows on...
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...
It’s astonishing how many Big Read authors were former journalists. Ernest Hemingway, Dashiell Hammett, Charles Portis, and John Steinbeck to name a few. Thom Steinbeck, John’s son, and scholar Susan Shillinglaw teach us where John got the idea for his gripping paean to the oppressed, The Grapes of...
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...
Even though the 2013 Poetry Out Loud National Finals have come and gone (c ongrats again, Langston! ), it's always fun to hear the recitations of past champions. Listen to Alaskan State Champion and 2007 POL finalist Deja Husberg recite Margaret Atwood’s darkly funny poem, "Siren Song." [1:59]...
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...
Image courtesy of Jim White In addition to being a masterful storyteller ( check out his short story, "The Bottom" ), musician Jim White knows how to pen a song. One of the best parts of my job is helping find and license relevant songs that evoke the themes and feelings in Big Read books. The tone...

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