What We Are Reading Today: Flyover Country Poems

Flyover Country Poems
Updated 12 September 2018
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What We Are Reading Today: Flyover Country Poems

  • In these poems, midwestern barns and farmhouses are linked to other lands and times as if by psychic tunnels

Author: Austin Smith

A new collection about violence and the rural Midwest from a poet whose first book was hailed as “memorable” (Stephen Burt, Yale Review) and “impressive” (Chicago Tribune), Flyover Country is a powerful collection of poems about violence: The violence we do to the land, to animals, to refugees, to the people of distant countries, and to one another.
Drawing on memories of his childhood on a dairy farm in Illinois, Austin Smith explores the beauty and cruelty of rural life, challenging the idea that the American Midwest is mere “flyover country,” a place that deserves passing over.
At the same time, the collection suggests that America itself has become a flyover country, carrying out drone strikes and surveillance abroad, locked in a state of perpetual war that Americans seem helpless to stop. In these poems, midwestern barns and farmhouses are linked to other lands and times as if by psychic tunnels.
A poem about a barn cat moving her kittens in the night because they have been discovered by a group of boys resonates with a poem about the house in Amsterdam where Anne Frank and her family hid from the Nazis.
A poem beginning with a boy on a farmhouse porch idly swatting flies ends with the image of people fleeing before a drone strike. A poem about a barbwire fence suggests, if only metaphorically, the debate over immigration and borders.


What We Are Reading Today: Churchill: Walking with destiny by Andrew Roberts

Updated 20 November 2018
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What We Are Reading Today: Churchill: Walking with destiny by Andrew Roberts

  • The story Roberts tells is sophisticated and in the end more satisfying
  • The book being deals with all the controversies in his career that you would expect

Winston Churchill was born on Nov. 30, 1874, at Blenheim Palace, the ancestral home of the Duke of Marlborough. 

Historian Andrew Roberts’ insight about Winston Churchill’s relation to fate in “Churchill: Walking With Destiny” comes directly from the subject himself. 

“I felt as if I were walking with destiny,” Churchill wrote of that moment in May 1940 when he achieved the highest office. 

But the story Roberts tells is more sophisticated and in the end more satisfying. 

The book covers Churchill’s post-war warnings about the Soviet threat and his second premiership in the early-to-mid 1950s, including his complex relationship with Anthony Eden, his successor-in-waiting. 

Roberts, who was born in 1963, took a first class honors degree in Modern History at Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge, from where he is an honorary senior scholar and a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD). He has written or edited 12 books, and appears regularly on radio and television around the world.

“The book being deals with all the controversies in his career that you would expect. However nothing can detract from the ultimate conclusion that Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill was a very great man without whom humane civilization would not have been saved during those stern days of the Second World War,” stated a review published in goodreads.com