Reads of the Week #76

This is the last post before Christmas, so Seasons Greetings and good wishes if you read this blog regularly or if you’ve just arrived!

A little semi-self promotion to start this week. I spent a portion of the summer working on the contribution I made to this, the journal of Irish education, but it is so full of wisdom you shouldn’t just read what I wrote (but while you’re there I’d like some feedback): Ireland’s Yearbook of Education 2017–2018 from Education Matters

I loved the way this piece by Elizabeth Weil is annotated by her teenage daughter, it reminds of the back and forth of being the parent of a kid who knows the answers!: Raising a Teenage Daughter*

This is just scary: Jeff Yates describes how someone can turn your social media world against you: Inside the fake Facebook profile industry.

How One Woman’s Digital Life Was Weaponized Against Her by Brooke Jarvis is another cautionary tale about the modern world.

Following on from those two articles is this piece from Maria Popova on May Sarton which includes a reading of her poem Canticle 6 on The Art of Being Alone, the value and quality of the time we spend alone has never been more important.

Podcast of the Week is the RTE History Show‘s picks for the best history books published this year.

Finally the image on this post is Woman with Blue Hat by Georgia O’Keeffe and I found it here.

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Reads of the Week #86

 

It’s been a while. Easter and a family trip to London have taken my Sundays for a few weeks, but here we are again, collecting, curating, reading, sharing.

I’ve gone back a month or so to find this selection, and one thing is clear: I read a lot of amazing writing, I had over forty pieces to narrow down to a manageable list. I decided in the end to include writing that stayed with me over the weeks, that was of course high quality but also affecting. Hope you like them…

 

Next some poetry, since I changed jobs, I’ve had to make more of an effort to seek out verse and these poems by Fiona King about her son Adam really stayed with me. To be able to express the emotion in a family’s life in poetry is something rare.

A frequent visitor to this blog, this is Michael Harding writing about finding a voice as a young man, among other things of course.

Another writer who I revisit often is Anthony Wilson, usually for his poetry, but this piece On Being Chipper is so rewarding on depression and finding a place for talk in the dark.

For a complete change of pace and subject this piece by Matt Ufford who was sent to Iraq in 2003, writes about rolling into Baghdad on a wave of euphoria, but after all this time that war is still going on.

The death of Ann Lovett aged 15 after giving birth at a grotto in Granard, Co Longford in 1984 has always haunted me. There were only two years between us in age and I remember the topic being whispered about in the Ireland we had then. In this, the month she would have turned 50, Rosita Boland returns to Ann’s life with skilful writing that shows how far we may have come 34 years on.

This essay on Henry Worsley, the polar explorer, written by David Grann will take an investment of your time, but it will be very worth it. It reaches a devastating conclusion with powerful storytelling. The White Darkness.

John O’Brien writes here of the sadness of being an emigrant when someone ‘The death notice won’t say “surrounded by loving family”. I wasn’t fast enough’ (John O’Brien)
https://buff.ly/2IDeMHQ

 

Time for some light relief. I’ve just discovered Tony Naylor‘s monthly column on How to eat and the most recent about lasagne made me laugh out loud, several times while sitting on the couch alone. Good sign.

Two podcasts stand out over the last few weeks. If you haven’t subscribed to Second Captains yet, you should, this podcast was made free after it struck such a huge chord. It’s an amazing coversation with Sinead O’Carroll and Richie Sadlier about consent, sexual health and education in the wake of the recent high profile Belfast trial on two rugby players. Also, it’s the tip of the iceberg, there is so much more than sport in this podcast, not a week goes by that I don’t learn something about something I hadn’t even thought about before.

The second podcast is an interview that shines a light on a too often ignored part of the Peace Process, that is the role of Northern Irish women. This interview by Lyse Doucet with Monica McWilliams is heartening, enlightening and frustrating in equal measure. Monica is amazing by the way. Another important listen.

This week’s image is Beautiful Women at a Yashiki – Designed by Chobunsai Eishi which is at the Chester Beatty Library in Dublin, which, by the way, is a beautiful museum well worth a visit. I found it here.

Reads of the Week #85

What does another eclectic mix of reading say about the reader? Magpie? Scattergun? unfocused? Whatever the answer, it works for me. The list of things I’ll read is endless, this week there’s music, poetry, sport, reading, fascism, women’s suffrage and Iran art. Magpie alright.

Here’s Thom Hickey on Donald Fagen’s The Nightfly. Every time I hear this album it transports me back to my first car, a red 83 VW Golf. Different days.

This is Christine Murray‘s Starlings. It made want to read more poetry as much I did in my 20s. So I did (more of that next week).

Next is Sonia O’Sullivan reminding me of the 80s, running was I wanted to do then, same for Sonia but she was better at it than any of us. How far athletics, and women’s athletics in particular have come since.

Next is a great project any English teacher, anywhere, not just here in Ireland should devour: the Bold Girls project from Children’s Books Ireland. Some great ideas for reading for and reading with young women.

We’re All Fascists Now by Bari Weiss is such a rewarding read because it is a challenge, no matter where you start from. I love reading things that make me think again on what I thought I understood. Most of the choices this week it turns out are about being transported back to who I was, this one is about who I am now, always open to a challenge.

Podcast of the week is the return of The History Show from RTE on the history of the women’s suffrage movement in Ireland. I loved it, it is what public service broadcasting is for.

And finally the image this week is The Lady Khorshid (1843) by Sani ol Molk. I found it here.

Reads of the Week #84

This week I write to you from Dunmanway, Co. Cork. Being on the road has become part of my life now, seven months into my new job. The places we visit are as different from each other as is possible, but they have in common a desire to do their best for the teachers and learners that walk their halls every day. And (tortured segue alert) this group of articles I read, often in a snowbound Clonmel, are equally eclectic, and just as united in their ability to draw my interest.

First Mark Hilliard writes of the cruel life an unnecessary deaths in a Cavan orphanage 75 years ago. A welcome reminder of what our country used to be like.

Michael O’Loughlin provides us with a timely reminder of how the echo of the Holocaust is still to be found across Europe, as above perhaps the past isn’t as far away as we might like to think.

Sabrina Gasparrini reminds us here that the price of resisting the worst of the past is constantly keeping in mind the mistakes made before. What will Italy do next?

Now this piece by Joshua Rothman spoke to me, as a person who often stood at a perfectly functioning, expensive piece of technology which drove me around the bend when it broke down. Paper jams. Printers. Photocopiers. Read on.

Every teacher knows that feeling when the printer jams, well, it’s someones job to think about that jam, and try to eliminate it. This piece by @joshuarothman is a great read

For a little light distraction into the perfect and hillarious, here’s Larry David: No Way to Say Goodbye.

Podcast of the Week is a Moving Pictures episode from BBC World Service. Cathy Fitzgerald makes some beautiful radio, this piece on Men of the Docks by George Bellows is a perfect example. And Google Arts and Culture have provide a zoomable version of the painting.

Image of the Week is from Danish artist Peder Mørk Mønsted (1851-1941) which I found here. For the weather we’ve had.

Reads of the Week #83

It has been a long week, mainly because I entered my late 40s and haven’t been able to shake the cold I had last week. Added to that, I haven’t read as much I usually do. But, as in previous posts from weeks when I fell behind, the things I did get to read and share are pretty special.

First is a piece by by Isabel Hayes which is marked by her honesty, openness and heartbreaking experience of miscarriage and ivf. A compelling read.

Next, given the Winter Olympics have dominated life in this house for past two weeks, here’s a piece by David Segal on a broken ski pole that entered Norwegian folklore.

Third on the list this week is another piece by Michael Harding, which almost defies description beyond saying it’s a perfect slice of rural Irish life.

This next choice is the latest short piece from Katie Coyle, who is another regular contributor to my weekly lists. What I like about this piece is it is as much about how to send your daughters out into the world as about anything else.

Couldn’t chose between two podcasts this week , so here’s both: What’s the Deal With Eleven? In which John McWhorter explains the etymology and pronunciation of English numbers. What I love about this series isn’t just the nerdy joy of how John expands on his theme, but the detail that goes into constructing forty minutes of aural joy. Secondly, here’s Melvyn Bragg and guests discussing the Dreyfus Affair, the 1890s scandal which divided opinion in France for a generation and gave me some of the most interesting History classes down through the years. The joy of explaining how France repeatedly tried to tear itself apart between 1870 and 1914, and yet survived was something I always looked forward to. Another In Our Time podcast.

And finally the image this week is ‘The Tenth Hour (XVII)’ by Bharti Kher, which I found here.

Reads of the Week #82

After a week off, I had so much to chose from since #81. I don’t know what the choice each week says about me or my current state but this week I picked a piece on the misuse of History, on a movie from the  1960s about an uncertain future, one about a war that might or might not be over, a piece on a horror movie based on a classic novel by an Irishman, another the New York subway in all it’s crumbling glory, something lovely about a father, something deep about Shakespeare and a black flower.

Gary Younge on how History is stolen, distorted and resold to us.

Bruce Handy goes into fantastic detail on the making of 2001: A Space Odyssey (note colon).

Liam Stack on the ‘Forgotten’ Conflict That Shaped the Modern World, the Korean War.

From Come Here to Me Dublin, Florence Balcombe, widow of Bram Stoker, and the war for Nosferatu.

On the In Our Time podcast, Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Shakespeare’s best known, most quoted and longest play, Hamlet. Did it for my Leaving (first time) and taught it with relish so many times.

And the cover image is Black Pansy (detail), from Georgia O’Keeffe, from 1926 I found through #WOMENSART.

Reads of the Week #81

The midterm has arrived! Conscious as I am that teachers might have more time than usual to read in the week ahead, this week I give you two pieces to get you thinking: first Alex Quigley on reading and writing in this blogpost The Shape of Stories; and second Kenny Pieper, who regular readers here will know well by now, writing on the right and responsibility of teachers to be involved in real change in education, he’s writing about Scotland, but this blogpost has real resonance for Irish teachers too, perhaps teachers everywhere. On Brexit, that great crumbling of our regard for British democracy, in this article, Marina Hyde compares Teresa May to a Swansea City manager who has all the confidence that comes from being given the full support of the Board of Directors. She doesn’t stop there, and it isn’t all funny, but it is so right. Anika Burgess, writing for Atlas Obscura on the photography of Caitriona Dunnett on the secret tracks and trails that lead to Mass Rocks across Ireland is fascinating insight into Irish History, and beautifully illustrated with images of inaccessible but familiar places. Aidan Dunne writes here on Emil Nolde, an artist I’ve only recently discovered, and he shows the stillness of his painting is matched by the complications of his life.

My podcast choice this week this week is again from the RTE History Show: this time it covers significant and interesting anniversaries coming up in 2018. Very useful for updating the diaries of History teachers. This week’s cover image came from here.

Reads of the Week #80

It’s hard to believe that I’ve spent eighty weekends doing this exercise. Collecting writing I want to share more than in a single tweet has become a tradition: laptop out after dinner on Sunday, picking out the best, setting up the tweets and writing the blogpost. Always a pleasure. Writing is an exercise, reading the same, hoping never to get out of any of these habits.

Michael Harding on Marty Whelan, but as always saying things about so much more than a headline can encapsulate.

This piece by Jeremi Suri traces the history of the nuclear hotline, and of the the use of hotlines to diffuse conflict in general. History nerd alert.

 

A photo’s power is huge, this one has taken on a life beyond the moment it captures and it changed the course of the Vietnam War. Maggie Astor on Eddie Adams’ photo of Nguyen Ngoc Loan executing Nguyen Van Lem, in Saigon on February 1, 1968.

Brightening, by Doireann Ní Ghríofa, is an amazing new poetic take on Austin Clarke’s Planter’s Daughter which so many of us read and taught down the years from the Soundings Anthology.

Jennifer O’Connell has written so powerfully here, asking how much has really changed since the 1980s Ireland that drove so many women to the margins.

For the podcast of the week, here’s an RTE History Show interview on Alger Hiss with his son Tony who continues to believe in his father’s innocence. Human history colliding with world events.

 

And finally, for the coverage image I went here.