Celebrating Shakespeare

It was four years ago on a rainy Sunday afternoon that my husband and I were able to visit Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-Upon-Avon. Being able to visit England at all was a dream come true. Going into the church where Shakespeare was baptized as a baby and was also buried in was an amazing experience for me.P1000119

I should have had my husband stand next to this sign so you could see how low the door here actually is. I suppose this sign pointing to Shakespeare’s grave is taken down while they are having services, but it seemed rather makeshift for a grave that has been here for almost 400 years.

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Just entering these old churches gave me a sense of awe, thinking of the history of the places. Building a place to worship God so many years ago–did any of those builders and craftsmen think this place would be here so many years later? How many sermons have been preached here and how many songs of worship have been sung?

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I suppose the people that live here and worship at this church are accustomed to having Will’s grave right there, front and center. I can’t help but wonder, however, what Shakespeare himself would think about it. I’m sure he would have something clever to say. Something like: “And so from hour to hour, we ripe and ripe, and then, from hour to hour, we rot and rot; and thereby hangs a tale.” Oh, right, he wrote that in that fairly well-known play, As You Like It.

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Why do we continue to celebrate the life of someone who died 400 years ago? Because his works are still alive. There are few writers whose works continue to impress with their skill at telling a story and their ability to use words as a master craftsman.

A tour of one of Shakespeare’s first folio is making its way across the United States. Read more about that here: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/shakespeares-first-folio-goes-tour-us-180957736/?no-ist

Read all of his works and looking for more? Check out these young adult titles which feature a story line taken from Shakespeare:

Still Star-Crossed Melinda Taub (Romeo & Juliet)

They Were Liars E. Lockhart (King Lear)

Loving Will Shakespeare Carolyn Meyer (fictionalized account of Shakespeare meeting future wife, Anne Hathaway)

The Fool’s Girl Celia Rees (Twelfth Night)

Enter Three Witches Caroline B. Cooney (Macbeth)

Read about these and more at: http://www.yalsa.ala.org/thehub/2016/03/25/booklist-shakespeare-inspired-ya-fiction/

I’m listening to the audio version of They Were Liars right now. What about you? Going to read any Shakespeare this weekend to celebrate the past 400 years of literary genius?

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The Architect’s Apprentice by Elif Shafak

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The Architect’s Apprentice is a very engaging and entertaining story which takes place in Istanbul in the 1500’s. The story is told through the eyes of an apprentice to the architect, Mimar Sinan, who designed buildings (mostly mosques, but also bridges) during the Ottoman Empire. Sinan, a contemporary of Michelangelo, was appointed to be the chief royal architect at the age of 50 and kept the post for almost 50 years.

His apprentice (in this story) was an Indian boy, Jahan, who arrived in Istanbul with a white elephant which had been sent as a gift for the Sultan. The city, its politics and intrigues, are seen through Jahan’s eyes as he continues to be the mahout, or keeper of the elephant. He soon catches the eye of Sinan with his own drawings and is made Sinan’s apprentice though he continues his duties as mahout. The white elephant, Chota, is as much an important character as Jahan and Sinan. Chota and Jahan grow up together, serving the Sultan, both in war and in helping with building bridges and mosques, designed by Sinan.

This is a time and place in history which I have not been very familiar with, so that added to my interest for the story. Any other books written about this time period that anyone can recommend? Or other books about the architect, Sinan?

April is National Poetry Month

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April is National Poetry Month, so it’s a good time to, not only read some poetry, but to discover some new poets and explore different types of poetry. I have to admit, that my reading has not included reading poetry as much as it should, though when I think about it, I have enjoyed poetry through the years. My earliest memories include the love of Green Eggs and Ham and Fox in Socks. What better introduction to poetry than Dr. Seuss?  Though it was required reading for me in college (usually a death knell to the enjoyment of reading), I greatly enjoyed reading Paradise Lost as well as The Odyssey.  As a writer, reading poetry helps me to see words in a different way; a more musical way. Ray Bradbury read poems before beginning a day’s work. In Zen in the Art of Writing, he said, “Poetry is good because it flexes muscles you don’t use often enough. Poetry expands the senses and keeps them in prime condition.”

I am now reading through a collection of poems edited by my favorite poet, Luci Shaw. The collection,  A Widening Light: Poems of the Incarnation, includes poems from several poets, including Luci Shaw herself. Using poetry to help us worship God is nothing new. We all know the Psalms as works of poetry, as well as the books of Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Lamentations.

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Perhaps no one explains better why we should read poetry than the teacher, John Keating, played by Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society.

In anticipation of hearing Shelby Stephenson, Poet Laureate of North Carolina, speak next week, I am going to pick up his book, Fiddledeedee, from the library.

Any favorite poets or poems you’ll be reading this month?