Anything worth taking
seriously is worth
making fun of

Poet Laureate Donald Hall Applauds Resurgence of Poetry

NCTE Council Chronicle March 2007

Poet Laureate Donald Hall’s love of poetry grew from his fascination with horror movies.

The First Amendment

NCTE Council Chronicle September 2006

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or the press, or the right of the people to peaceably assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Firm Believers

AARP The Magazine May 2006

There’s no gentle way to put it: Bea D’Angelo was flabby. The owner of The Red Parrot, a popular beach restaurant in Hull, Massachusetts, Bea was so weak “she looked like a strong wind would knock her over,” recalls personal trainer Skip Tull. In 2003 Bea, then 55, hired Tull to develop a just-for-her-strength program.

High Noon for Higher Education

Illinois Alumni magazine May 2006

In 1636, a mere 16 years after landing on North America’s shores, the Pilgrims put themselves to another task — establishing Harvard University.

More than 100 years later, founding father Thomas Jefferson declared, “If we’re going to have a successful democratic society, we have to have a well-educated and healthy citizenry.”

Bebe Moore Campbell

First appeared in NCTE Council Chronicle in March 2006

Although novelist Bebe Moore Campbell started out as a teacher, she always knew she would end up as a writer.

That knowledge was about all she had to sustain herself in the beginning. She struggled for five years in the wilderness of rejection letters before her first short story was accepted. The Shopping Trip, a story about a mother who shopped at three different grocery stores in order to make ends meet, was published in 1976 by Essence magazine.

There’s No Place Like Home

First appeared in Illinois Alumni magazine in January 2006

First, you should know that architect Lori Naritoku ‘82 FAA, MARCH ‘84 FAA, was not too keen on this whole idea of talking about herself. What she does, she said, is not interesting.

“I just kind of like doing my own little thing,” Naritoku said. “It’s not a big deal.”

Fender Bender

Illinois Alumni magazine November 2005

When David Spelman returned to his Urbana hotel after midnight, he found world-class musicians Mamadou Diabate and Juan Martín jamming in an alcove of the Historic Lincoln Hotel’s lobby. Another guitarist, Dan Zanes, was on the floor with a quiet smile on his face. Others sat on chairs or by the fireplace.

All were rapt.

Frank McCourt Is Forever a Teacher Man

First appeared in National Council of Teachers of English Chronicle in November 2005

Frank McCourt has become rich writing about being grindingly poor. Arriving in America as a teen, having survived a harrowing, poverty-stricken childhood in Ireland, McCourt, who never went to high school, enrolled in college to become a teacher. Many people will be familiar with at least part of his story, told so movingly in his Pulitzer Prize-winning memoir, Angela’s Ashes (1996) and his second memoir, ‘Tis (1999).

Isabel Allende

First appeared in National Council of Teachers of English Chronicle in September 2005

Anyone who has read Isabel Allende’s novels will not be surprised that she has what she describes as “an ear for stories.”

“I can’t remember my children’s names, but I never forget a good story,” she says with her deep, warm belly laugh.

Purchasing Power

First appeared in in September 2005

When Mindy Conover Meads ‘74 ACES looks at a shirt, she’s probably not thinking about how it will look on her but how it will look on you.

That’s because Meads, recent president and CEO of the clothing chain Lands’ End, has spent her entire career in the retail clothing industry. Starting out as a 16-year old store clerk, at her latest post she ran a company earning $1.6 billion a year in revenue.


Read more writings in my features, essays or books