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The Poet of the People Sings of Freedom: Carl Sandburg on Transcending the Pride and Vanity that Paralyze Social Justice

How to protect yourself from the “misuse and violation of the sacred portions of your personality.” Carl Sandburg (January 6, 1878–July 22, 1967) left school at the age of thirteen to labor as a milk-wagon driver, then went on to win not one, not two, but three Pulitzer Prizes and to compose verses so beloved he would be remembered as “the Poet of...

Two Friends: A Lovely Illustrated Celebration of Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony’s Entwined Paths as Pioneers of Freedom, Justice, and Equality

The story of two uncommonly courageous people who met in their twenties and spent the rest of their lives determined “to help each other, so one day all people could have rights.” “How can we use each other’s differences in our common battles for a livable future?” Audre Lorde asked while traveling in a divided world a generation after the landmark...

All Human Beings: Eleanor Roosevelt’s Reading of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Reimagined as a Soulful Serenade to Diversity and Dignity by Composer Max Richter

A celebration “of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family” as “the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.” “Love is the only way to rescue humanity from all ills,” Leo Tolstoy wrote to Mahatma Gandhi in the stirring correspondence that would unspool over four decades until Gandhi’s...

The Storm, the Rainbow, and the Soul: Coleridge on the Interplay of Terror and Transcendence in Nature and Human Nature

“In the hollow… I sate for a long while sheltered, as if I had been in my own study in which I am now writing: there I sate with a total feeling worshipping the power and ‘eternal link’ of energy.” “Place and a mind may interpenetrate till the nature of both is altered,” the great Scottish mountaineer and poet Nan Shepherd wrote in her tiny, tremendous...

A Young Poet’s Love Letter to Earth and to the Double Courage of Facing a Broken Reality While Refusing to Cease Cherishing This Astonishing World in Its Brokenness

In praise of anemone and dust and “the smallest possible once before once.” To make anything — a photograph, a theorem, a poem — is to toss a handful of wildflower seeds into the wind, knowing neither the type of soil they will land in, nor the location of the landscape, nor the type of flowers that will bloom. Sometimes, oftentimes, the seeds come...

Mary Shelley on the Courage to Speak Up Against Injustice and the Power of Words in Revising the World

“Words have more power than any one can guess; it is by words that the world’s great fight, now in these civilized times, is carried on.” “To sin by silence, when we should protest, makes cowards out of men*,” the poet Ella Wheeler Wilcox wrote in her 1914 anthem against silence — a line Rachel Carson leaned on in summoning her epoch-making courage...

The Stuff of Stars: A Stunning Marbled Serenade to the Native Poetry of Science and the Cosmic Interleaving of Life

A consummate celebration of the improbable loveliness of life amid the edgeless panorama of cosmic being. “Before I was born out of my mother,” Walt Whitman wrote in Leaves of Grass, “my embryo has never been torpid… For it the nebula cohered to an orb.” Only by connecting our own birth, our own existence, to that of everything and everyone we know,...

Snakes, Dragons, and the Power of Music: Strange and Wondrous 18th-Century Illustrations of Real and Mythic Serpents

“That there is not a wise Purpose in every thing that is made because we do not understand it, is as absurd as for a Man to say, there is no such thing as Light, because he is blind and has no Eyes to see it.” In 1742, more than a century before Darwin parted the veil of creationist mythology to reveal the reality of nature, an English theologian...

Drawing on Walls: An Wondrous Illustrated Homage to Keith Haring, His Irrepressible Art of Hope, and His Beautiful Bond with Children

“Children know something that most people have forgotten. Children possess a fascination with their everyday existence that is very special and would be very helpful to adults if they could learn to understand and respect it.” Growing in Bulgaria, one of my most cherished objects was also one of the first fragments of American culture to enter our...

Astronomy, Race, and the Unwitnessed Radiance Inside History’s Blind Spots

A poetic instrument for observing and redrawing the spectrum of privilege and possibility. In 1977, the poet Adrienne Rich exhorted a graduating class of young women to think of education not as something one receives but as something one claims. But what does an education mean, and what does claiming it look like, for lives and minds animating...

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