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« Nick Flynn: Pick of the Week [ed. Terence Winch] | Main | Chaucer Gets Canceled (part III) »

August 23, 2021


For all his problems I love Chaucer. I read him in Middle English, and enjoy it -- you get better at understanding as you go along, and after a while you realize you're reading nearly as fast as you read modern English. It's just good stories. I do not think Chaucer was an evil man or a brute. I think modern readers, even college students, own enough insight to understand that maybe he did bad things, stupid things. So have we all. We try to learn. We keep learning. We keep reading. When I left the academe I could read again. And the academe is a corporation, a business whose first interest is money. I'd like to overthrow the patriarchy; I'd like to shatter and cast down white supremacy; I want to be bold in my reading and in my actions. Even the heroes in the academe -- there are many, and I was and am honored to learn from them -- cannot overcome the corporate nature of the academe, and its inevitable support of that same murderous, savage, white patriarchy. So read Chaucer as grandly as you can. Read whatever the hell you want. Read Black writers. Read women. Make sure you read stories to children whenever you get the chance. Children need them. I speak as a parent.

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"Lively and affectionate" Publishers Weekly


I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman


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