Langston Hughes

Despite the common knowledge that Langston Hughes was an African American poet who wrote about the American Dream, many people do not know background of his life. His mother and father separated after he was born, which caused his mother to travel a great deal to find better job opportunities. Therefore, Hughes spent much of his early life with his grandmother up until her death, causing him to live with his mother. The death of his grandmother really affected his life because he had never truly felt loved by his parents. As he attended high school, his transferred the loss of his grandmother into a love for poetry, where he was inspired by Carl Sandburg and Walt Whitman. Overall, his life growing up without his parents playing a large role impacted his writing career and eventually took him to Columbia University, which was the beginning of his career writing about the American Dream and the Harlem Renaissance. Although he dropped out of Columbia University, he did not give up his dream of writing poetry and continued his work while in Paris and other parts of the world. His first published novel, Not Without Laughter, is most likely a depiction of his life growing up and focuses on an African American who deals with parents who do not have the same beliefs. From then on, Hughes continued to thrive as a poet, writing many different types of poetry which ranged from novels to groups of poems to just short poems by themselves. Even though many Americans only know Langston Hughes as a man who wrote about dreams for the future, there were many aspects of Hughes’ life that led up to his career writing about topics like discrimination and equality, which are usually not discussed by the average American.2015-02-02-LangstonHughes

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Best Practices for Effective Blog


Silvia R. Tolisano, Connected Learner, @langwitches

Does this image help you revise all the parts and nuances of a successful blog post? Importantly, did you need to revise your prose at all to incorporate well your media? This list will also help you will smaller details, such as a reminder about category. Be sure to select at minimum the “English III Honors” and “American Poetry” categories. You can select others that you see fit. Be sure to deselect “Uncategorized” category. You have to do this manually. Click on the source link to learn more from the “Langwitches” website, a most helpful source for our #flatclassroom. Then, once you have created an excellent post, be mindful to go back to the email list to see whose blog you will make a PQP comment. Also go back and review your tweet to see if you need to revise it given that your post may have been altered by recent updates.



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Sylvia Plath

Sylvia Plath is regarded as one of the most famous poets of American literature as she employs many poetic techniques that display her vision and meaning behind each poem. However, in addition to Plath’s poems, I found her personal life to be very fascinating. As Plath is widely known for her dark poems, her personal life reveals her love for her family as she saves her children from dying when she commits suicide. Plath locked her children, Nicholas and Frieda, in their bedroom and taped the opening of the door as she turned on the gas in the kitchen stove and committed suicide. She also provided her children with food and drink before committing suicide so they may live on to carry her soul. However, Plath’s suicide had its consequences as Ted Hughes’ girlfriend, Assia Wevill, moved in with Hughes and had a daughter named Shura. After six years, Assia also committed suicide in the same manner as Plath because Hughes told her to leave his family. Within six years, both Nicholas and Frieda experienced the losses of two women in their lives, eventually leading to both being in a depression at some point in their lives. Nicholas fell into a deeper depression than Frieda, and as a result, Nicholas committed suicide in 2009. However, Sylvia Plath’s poetry and personal life have not only affected her family as it has also inspired many future poets such as Anne Sexton. Plath and Sexton were best friends during much of Plath’s life as they both had a mental disorder and wrote similar poems due to their shared mindset. One example of Plath’s influence over Sexton was Sexton’s poem Sylvia’s Death, which Sexton wrote only six days after Sylvia’s suicide. In this poem, Sexton explicates her desire to commit suicide in the same way as Plath as she wishes to not die in a hospital. Due to Sylvia Plath’s love for her family, she saved her children from death when she committed suicide; however, her death had adverse effects on her family and friends as it led to the deaths of Assia Wevill and her son, Nicholas Plath.Picture1

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Through the Eyes of Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou is a writer who has impacted the lives and mindsets of many people. Though some believe her raw literature surrounding rape culture, sexism, and racism is controversial, these topics are important to her and are things that she believes people should become aware of. These topics are so significant and relevant to her as she was a victim to all three. At the age of only eight, Angelou was raped by her mother’s boyfriend at the time. At such a young age, a horrific image of men was illustrated to her, and through her poetry she displays this image and her feelings to rape culture as a whole. After the incident, Angelou’s self-confidence was completely diminished and she refused to talk for five years. After these five years, Angelou immersed herself into writing and began to open up in this way. Her writing may seem raw to some, but it was her method of expressing herself after such a terrible time in her life, and for this reason her poetryand books are so special. As a young African-American girl growing up in the south in the decade, not only was racism an issue, but so was sexism. Black people were not granted the same respect as white people, and they were tormented because of it. To make times even more difficult for Angelou, women also were not looked at with the same respect as men and were often mistreated. Angelou’s poems explore these themes and present her first hand experiences as well as the experiences of women and loved ones close to her. To think about the fact that Angelou’s literature is so personal and raw, makes her presence in the many American poets so influential, and so worthwhile to read. Maya Angelou is an American writer who deserves to be recognized despite how controversial.

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Adrienne Rich: An Advocate

Adrienne Rich has been nationally recognized for her outstanding poetry, but she does not feel that she should receive such honors. In 1997, Rich refused to accept the National Medal for the Arts, which was granted to her by the White House and the Clinton administration. Upon her decision to decline the prestigious award, Rich noted that she was, “protesting the growing concentration of power in fewer and fewer hands,”( After exploring a variety of her poems, it is clear that Rich’s staunch political views advocate for equality for all people, regardless of race, class, or creed. Also, Rich explained that she did not want art to be mixed up with politics because the purpose of her work is to express the voices that are disregarded. With so many people’s voices being silenced by the government, Rich felt that it would have been hypocritical to accept an honor that helped to widen the gap between the powerful and the powerless.

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Carolyn Forché

Carolyn Forché is an American poet and human rights activist. Besides her work in El Salvador and her travels in Spain, Forché has also traveled to Beirut and wrote about her experiences there in the book The Angel of History, published in 1994. According to the Poetry Foundation, “The title figure, the Angel of History—a figure imagined by Walter Benjamin—can record the miseries of humanity yet is unable either to prevent these miseries from happening or from suffering from the pain associated with them. Kevin Walker, in the Detroit Free Press, called the book “a meditation on destruction, survival and memory” (Poetry Foundation). During her time in Beirut, Forché reported for National Public Radio and worked for Amnesty International during their civil war. During this time, she was struggling to find her poetic voice and did not publish another book for 14 years. Carolyn Forché reflects on her emotions during this struCarolynForche_NewBioImage_Credit-SeanMattisonggle when she says, “I was writing something that was unrecognizable to me….The work on the page was rather fragmented and unusual looking…Because I was still laboring under the assumption…that a poem was a first-person lyric narrative free-verse construct…. And what I was doing was not that at all….I was very frustrated, and I put it all in boxes and didn’t know what to do” (University of Illinois). The Angel of History was her return to poetry as she continued to develop her persona of a political poet.


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Dear Will on TNT #WillTNT

As scholars of a Shakespeare course at Suffield Academy, we have spent the past year studying the works of the greatest playwright of all time. When we first heard about Will on TNT, we could not contain our excitement. We would like to request to be a part of Will on TNT’s press junket. As a class, we operate and manage a twitter account called @The_Wit_of_Will aka “Digital Shakespeare for a high school classroom.” With upwards of a thousand followers, we could help spread the Bard’s words to other potential views.  With our knowledge and twitter account, we think we could spread the positive message about #WillTNT if we are given advanced episodes of Will. Thx!

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God All-Mighty (God’s Power)

Authors of modern literature often reference and use motifs that come from the Bible in their writing very frequently. One of the more commonly referenced motifs is that of God’s power. In the Bible, the main story that shows God’s power is the creation story in the book of Genesis, Chapter 1. In this chapter, it talks about how God created the Earth and all of the things on Earth like day and night or land and water. This scene shows God’s power in that he created the world and sets up a perfect balance for all of existence to live in. A piece of literature that shows this power is in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter. In the story, there is a common theme that God is all-powerful and controls things that happen in life. According to a matron in the story the “magistrates are God-fearing gentlemen, but merciful overmuch—that is a truth.” This shows how the people respect and somewhat fear God’God.jpgs power in their everyday lives. This showcase of God’s power shines through into Hester and everyone around her’s lives. A piece of textual evidence to support this is when a townsman says, “Peradventure the guilty one stands looking on at this sad spectacle, unknown of man, and forgetting that God sees him.” The key part of this quotation is where the man says that God sees him. According to many people of this time period, God sees all and is all-powerful. This is one example of the bible motif of God’s power shining through in today’s modern literature. A second example that could be interpreted as a showcase of God’s power is in The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. In this novel, two of the main characters, Daisy Buchanan and Jay Gatsby used to be in love, but when Gatsby leaves for a while, he comes back to see that Daisy has married Tom Buchanan and Jay Gatsby’s love is lost now. Later in his life, he moves across the bay from where Daisy and Tom live so that he can try to rekindle his love with Daisy and potentially steal her back from Tom. Despite his best efforts, Daisy will remain with Tom because of the power of God and the bond that marriage provides. Even though the reader may not think that Daisy and Tom’s marriage is perfect, it is still a marriage with God looking down over them. Tom is not the person to end a marriage, especially after he is described in Chapter 6 as a “son of God.” Tom is a man of God, much like his father, so he knows better than to leave Daisy. These two works of literature showcase God’s power in modern literature and how the motif shines through even today.

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It is a good meal or a bad meal

The sharing of bread and the meal representing communion in both positive and satire way enhances the meaning of multiple literature works, which draws the allusion to the last supper in bible. In The Sun Also Rises, Jake had wine with Bill after fishing, which is followed by a large amount of description of scenery and Jake’s feeling about Brett. In chapter twelve, Jake first reveals his feeling towards Brett. “’Were you ever in love with her?’ ‘Sure’”. This revealing of emotion and thoughts along with the sharing of wine was allusion to the last meal and indicates the meaning of communion. In Beloved, such meaning is also reflected. “Loaves and fishes were His powers.” On the day of Baby Beloved’s death, a party is held, which ends up having enough food for the entirely town, such allusion from the last meal largely enhances love and community of the themes of the book. On the other hand, the allusion can also be used as irony such as it in Animal Farm, where the animal had the “happy” meal with human in the end, representing the fake communion and the de- humanity of both sides. “”gentlemen, I give you a toast: To the prosperity of Animal Farm!’” Such toast was a merely fake communion that was based on the interest and never the belief, which indicates the irony of the novel- ugliness of human and political system.Screen Shot 2017-05-01 at 9.03.50 PM.png

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Serpents in The Bible and Other Literature

As demonstrated in the Bible, many allusions to serpents throughout all types of literature are directly related to the devil and to sin. While Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden, Eve was deceived by a serpent and tricked into eating fruit from a prohibited tree, which in turn forced God to expel Adam and Eve from The Garden. This scene proved that the serpent was a form of Satan. This interpretation of the Bible is most directly introduced into Willa Cather’s My Ántonia. When Jim is out in the garden with Ántonia, he is forced to protect himself and Ántonia from the rattlesnake, a symbol of the devil, because it could have attacked the two innocent people. In this specific scene, the two pure children, Jim and Ántonia, are represented as Adam and Eve, and the rattlesnake represents the devil that is trying to corrupt them and keep them from doing the right thing. Therefore, it is clear that serpents in literature have a negative connotation when they are introduced into a story because they allude to this scene in Genesis where Adam and Eve are being corrupted. In addition to this scene in My Ántonia, serpents are used in more works of American literature, in particularly The Scarlet Letter and The Awakening. In The Scarlet Letter, although the idea of the serpent is less prevalent in the plot, Hester is compared to a “serpent from its hole” (Ch. 5, 120) in relation to the sin she had committed with Dimmesdale and the negative effect it has had on her life. In The Awakening, the serpent figure is utilized in relation to water, which as known from the story is the ultimate location for the death of the main character, Edna. Chopin writes, “The foamy wavelets curled up to her white feet, and coiled like serpents about her ankles” (125). This simile shows that Chopin is comparing the water to snakes, which sets up the scene for death later on in the novel. Despite the fact that the serpent is not as prominent of a figure in the final two novels, it still has an important role in deciphering the good from the evil, which gives further insight into the outcome of the story before the reader has arrived to the ending. Lastly, this theme of the serpent in every one of these examples sets up the main character for a test that they are going to experience at some point during the novel. In The My Ántonia, Jim is forced to prove his manhood and show Ántonia that he is worthy of her acceptance. In The Scarlet Letter, Hester has to face the test from society to show that she is not as sinful as everyone makes her out to be. Finally, in The Awakening, Edna is set up for a “fight” with the water, although she is not able to overcome this fight and results in her death at the end of the novel.  Therefore, due to the Biblical reference that serpents carry with them, they are always introduced into important works of literature in order to demonstrate a lack of innocence and represent the coming of the devil and all of the negative, sinful things that are brought with it, in addition to creating an important test for the characters that have serpents in their lives.

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