Where I Go: The Poet Sits in the Dentist’s Chair

This Is What Happens When 'Two Mutually Oral Professions' Meet

I have many flaws. I delight in judging my neighbors. I step over the shower drain jammed with a whirlpool of my hair. I read the comments section. I leave lights on. My wife once caught me picking my toenails within full view of my son. These shortcomings, however, seem mild when placed alongside the one I offer you today: I’ve been an annoyance to all seven of my dentists. My method of choice: poorly timed lectures on poems, novels, and stories about teeth.

Did you know there’s a rich …

In Zimbabwe, Literature Is Protest | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

In Zimbabwe, Literature Is Protest

A New Generation of Authors Are Giving Voice to the Post-Mugabe Reality

In November 2017, when a military coup removed Robert Mugabe as Zimbabwe’s head of state after 37 years of rule, euphoria gripped the whole country. Many saw it as an …

Hamlet Is a Suicide Text—It’s Time to Teach It Like One | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Hamlet Is a Suicide Text—It’s Time to Teach It Like One

A Scholar of Shakespeare Sees Perils and Possibilities in the Bard's Plays, and His Own Experience

I once tried to commit suicide. Twenty years later, it’s still hard to talk about. I didn’t want to die. Self-esteem issues, depression, alcoholism. I was signaling, in an unhealthy …

There’s a Special Place in Dante’s Purgatory for Wafflers and Neutral Souls | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

There’s a Special Place in Dante’s Inferno for Wafflers and Neutral Souls

From MLK and JFK to Gavin Newsom, Dante’s Misquoters Still Get to the Heart of the Poet's Disdain for Moral Cowardice

Dante’s Divine Comedy, an epic poem recounting the Florentine’s journey through Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise, remains the go-to guide to the afterlife, the world’s most famous travelogue for the great …

In 1910, Jack London Saw COVID Coming  | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

In 1910, Jack London Saw COVID Coming 

In The Scarlet Plague, the California Author Imagined a 21st-Century Epidemic Hitting the Bay Area and the World

Jack London saw this coming. So why didn’t we?

In 1910 the California author, already famous for The Call of the Wild and White Fang, wrote a short post-apocalyptic …

How Venezuela’s Oil Riches Fueled a Literary Explosion

In the Mid-20th Century, Writers Seized on the Conflicts Laid Bare by Petroleum's Power to Reshape Society

On December 14, 1922, a gusher of petroleum was discovered in Zulia, a rural area of western Venezuela. For nine days the oil showered onto the surrounding farmland, scaring the …