Hence my wishing I could understand some of the words in the 2015 Ukrainian comedy, Servant of the People. There’s a subscripted text on YouTube for the opening theme, whose singer has a marvelous voice. I never expected the words to be, “I love my country. I love my wife. I love my dog.” The contrast between present-day events and the topsy-turvy society shown in this well-produced show is mind boggling. Absolutely love the cast, setting and drone-views of country I know so little about.
After bringing Laurie Halse Anderson’s Fever 1793 (2000) home from the library, I wasn’t sure I wanted to start a story about yellow fever. Once I did, I got right into it. Anderson’s portrayal of 14-year-old Mattie Cook, an urban white girl caught in the thick of a vicious epidemic in Philadelphia over the summer of 1793 was vivid, realistic and compelling. Well done!
A dear friend kindly sent me a copy of the April 2022 issue of History Today because of its cover with Frederick Douglass on it. In this London magazine, Laurence Fenton gave a good account of Douglass’s tour in Great Britain in 1845 and its impact, to start with, on Irish poetry and song. After Ireland, he went to Scotland where he immersed himself in Scottish poetry. I’d forgotten he was a big admirer of Robert Burns and Walter Scott and was delighted to meet Burns’s only surviving sibling and her two daughters. Fenton covered the controversy over the polluted gold from slaveholding states that funded the Free Church of Scotland, sharing verses from two poems and thankfully omitting insulting variations. Fenton also mentioned the Hutchinson Singers, from New Hampshire, who in early 1845, wrote The Fugitive’s Song about Douglas, and later poets like W. E. B. Du Bois and Langston Hughes among others.
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