I have been writing “Back
to Literature” columns for MyShelf.com for
a very long time now. Since 2002—some ninety-eight
of them--according our editor’s archives (www.backtoliterature/archive).
At our editor’s suggestions, I am reviewing
the long list of those columns.
probably noticed I said, “a very long time.”
I have been acutely aware lately that things seem
move more quickly as we age. I say “seem,”
but we all know it’s true. When we were very
young, the time between Thanksgiving and the day
Santa arrived or candles were lit was very, very
long, indeed. Watching the calendars didn’t
help. Nor did holiday cards. The glitter. The colors.
The ceremony. There were spicy smells, snowmen,
cookies with icing on them. Time dragged because
we were focused on gifts, crinkly paper, and “Over
the River and Through the Woods to Grandmother’s
House We Go!” where we would be showered with
still more gifts, turkey, maybe giant shrimp and
cocktail sauce hors-d’oeuvres . . . and hugs.
For some, that wasn’t true, but time still
dragged because it wasn’t.
maybe time dragged because Einstein gave us a new
perspective. Maybe it’s because metabolism
tells us time is relative.
at my old columns did a good job of altering time
for me and in some cases noticing things don’t
really change at all. This column from 2008, is
an example. (I’ve included the first line
so you can determine if you want to click on the
link to read more.)
Rills on Literature, "Little Black Sambo"
and the Politically Correct~ They say our nose
is our most memorable feature. I think the eyes,
but my husband would argue for ankles.
2019 and I still find articles arguing the pros
and cons of “politically correct?” in
newspapers, periodicals, and even books. I’ll
tell you one thing; I liked it better when most
of us could agree that being politically considerate
helps us to maintain the values we have always stood
for—or hoped we would. I wish I had included
a poem in that “Sambo” column that shows
how some great literature lets us peer into other
cultures and other times like this poem about my
childhood with B’rer Rabbit and his pals.
Utah Child Borrows Her Song from the South
Days in mountain
shadows diminished to dark
Winter world. Sounds
in the bit-hard chill, leg
and egg, models
for Li’l Abner cartoons.
Laig and aig.
Round sounds like viruses
caught in noses
of those who came
before us, no rhythm,
no sweet surprises.
Foisted on me were Cockleshells,
Mrs. Pumpkin Eater imprisoned
in her shell—fare from Volume
One—when I wanted
Revere’s hooves hard
and Uncle Remus’ songs.
Mama (tired of trying to effect
his noise) skipped the part
where B’rer Rabbit, went
only she didn’t fool me. I knew
its breath. How clever those B’rers!
he juz lay low
and B’rer Rabbit,
when he knocks
that tar baby silly
‘cause she didn’t behave
properly as he’d like.
And tar baby!
so quiet, had no name—
and she was nobody’s
And now in the world
where I dream I hear
sez B’rer Rabbit,
as friendly as can be, the tar baby
These, the sounds of the South,
stay in my ears at night when I pray
and mornings when I brush,
the echoes of Remus . . .
it’s lucky they do ‘cause Remus’
lovely, lyrical lilt staid
in my head an no matter
who sez those stories iz right ‘er thair wrong.
Thair the reason I’m gone.
Published in Master Class Poetry Mystique
Inside the Contemporary Poetry Workshop
Edited and commentary by Suzanne Lummis,
A text on the writing process
Featuring poems by Suzanne’s students.
As it turns out,
many of my favorite columns were politically influenced,
perhaps because we are influenced by what is in
the news (and perhaps we should be!). Other than
the column mentioned in this, the first of 2019’s
columns, I mention my top three in the “Suggestions”
box I always include in my columns. Scroll just
a bit and see it below.
list a Tidbit that may help authors write or promote
better on the months my “Back to Literature”
columns appear. I also include a Tip to help readers
find a treasure among long-neglected books, a sapphire
among the newly-published, or some other way to
increase the joy of reading and, in this case, my
past columns. Won’t you help me celebrate
my longevity with MyShelf? And MyShelf’s longevity—twenty
years! Some of these columns may get you reminiscing
on the passage of time—how little and how
much it changes things.