Happy Memorial Day!
In this weekend’s Saturday Essay, Amanda Parrish Morgan returns to a favorite film of her childhood, Dead Poets Society, as a high school English teacher with a more critical eye. Parrish Morgan ties the sad “martyrdom” of the movie’s hero, Mr. Keating, in with the New York State Legislature’s new, unrealistic standards for evaluating teachers. The unfortunate reality is that: “In most communities, teachers are compensated so poorly and afforded so little respect that in many cases the primary compensation is martyrdom.”
Meanwhile, Ann van Buren offers a review of Paul Muldoon’s collection, One Thousand Things Worth Knowing. Part elegy for Seamus Heaney, part elegy for Muldoon’s lost homeland of Ireland, the book at turns compels and repels van Buren. Obscure references make the collection challenging. “In every phrase of yours,” Van Buren tells the poet directly, “we see a thousand synapses firing.”
Then, in the Sunday Essay, Suzanne Clores has nightmares about her own murder at the hands of her loving husband and wonders where they might come from. The boundary between female intuition and genuine precognition becomes blurred. “In my more sane and confident moments,” Clores writes, “I am certain he is the non-murdering gentleman I married.” But the symbolism is continually frightening.