Robert Frost: American Poet

http://www.poesievive.org/robert_frost.html

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”

To many Americans, this oft-repeated verse inspires memories of English classes, which is only fitting since its author, Robert Frost, is the most well-known American poet. Though his poetry can be quite familiar, we often don’t think about the man who created it and how he became the poet that we all know and love.

Robert Frost was born in San Francisco, California on March 26, 1874. After his father died when he was eleven years old, Frost moved to Massachusetts with his mother and sister to live with his grandparents. He started dabbling in poetry during high school, though he didn’t publish his first poem, “My Butterfly,” until 1894 at the age of twenty.

In 1892, Frost graduated as co-valedictorian with his future wife, Elinor White. He left for Dartmouth College after high school but dropped out after a few months and worked a string of unfulfilling jobs. He proposed to Elinor shortly after his authorship victory with “My Butterfly,” but she turned him down because she wanted to complete her education. He proposed again later, after she finished school, and they were married in 1895.

In 1897, Frost attended Harvard University for two years before he left due to his health. He and Elinor tried farming, and failed. They had a total of six children in the first twelve years of their marriage, though only two survived into middle adulthood. Their son Carol committed suicide at thirty-eight years old, and their daughter Irma developed mental illness.

In 1912, Frost and Elinor moved to England with their three surviving children in an attempt to find a publisher for Frost’s work. In just a little over a year, they were successful. The first two of Frost’s books of poetry, A Boy’s Will and North of Boston, were both printed.

Frost and his family were forced to return to America at the start of World War I in 1914, but all was not as before. News of the rising American poet in England traveled across the Atlantic Ocean had rapidly spread, and he was welcomed back with open arms by the literary world. Henry Holt, his new publisher, stayed with Frost for the rest of his days, and journals that rejected his work before his stay in England were now clamoring for a story. In an act of rebellion, Frost sent the Atlantic Monthly the same poems they had previously rejected.

Frost went on to receive forty honorary degrees and four Pulitzer Prizes for New Hampshire, Collected Poems, A Further Range, and A Witness Tree. He also taught at several colleges, including Dartmouth, the University of Michigan, and Amherst College, resigning after his wife died of cancer and heart-related issues in 1938.

This great poet and his legacy will live on in American hearts for many more years to come.

These woods are lovely, dark and deep, But I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep, And miles to go before I sleep.

Freedom Isn’t Free

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Memorial Day. A day set aside to honor and remember those who put their lives on the line to protect and uphold our freedoms and liberties granted to us in the constitution. Even though this is an extremely important cause, not many people know when or how this day got started.

Toward the end of the Civil War in the early 1860s, people started decorating the graves of their family and friends who had died in battle. Many cities claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day, originally called Declaration Day but In Waterloo, NY, in 1866, was deemed with this title when drugstore owner Henry Welles convinced the rest of the town to close all of the shops on May 5 to commemorate the soldiers from the Civil War laid at rest at the Waterloo Cemetery.

In 1882, Declaration Day was changed to Memorial Day and by the end of World War I the day memorialized those lost in line of military service. Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act in 1968 which took effect in 1971, moving Memorial Day from May 30th to be celebrated on the last Monday in May.

Memorial Day is an important day in American history, and it reminds us of the love and sacrifice for Freedom.

Here, at the University of North Georgia, the military college of Georgia, we have our own history of remembering those lost. UNG’s Dahlonega campus has a memorial wall that honors former students who were killed in the service of our country during time of war. Recently, the UNG community suffered a great loss of a young alum (Class of 2014), 1st LT Weston Lee (25), on Saturday, April 29, in Mosul, Iraq after sustaining injuries from an IED detonation. Weston’s name will be added to our memorial wall, but his name and sacrifice is engraved in the hearts and minds in the UNG community. Weston is the eighth UNG graduate lost since 9/11. Though we wished we had no need for such a wall, UNG sends our thanks and condolences out to the families who have had their son or daughter give the ultimate sacrifice. We hope that you take a moment to remember the fallen as we remember their sacrifice.

If you have further interest in memorializing Weston, Colin Marney and Nick Shaw, fraternity brothers of Weston’s, started a Go Fund Me account to solicit donations to establish a scholarship fund in Lee’s memory; additional proceeds will go to Lee’s family. UNG has also set up the 1LT Weston Lee Memorial Scholarship Fund donations page.

Over the Top

War has changed radically over the last century, and it all started with the first modern war, World War I. In April, the Press released the first in a series of publications, The Doughboy Series, commemorating this world-changing time.

WWI enthusiasts know that it can be a challenge to find something written during the war, about the war, by a WWI veteran. Over the Top is a wonderful exception. Guy Empey released his book only a few weeks after America declared war on Germany, making it an immediate hit. Little boys wanted to hear about the glories of battle, soldiers wanted to know what to expect from someone who had been there, and families everywhere wanted to find out more about what the men in their lives would be walking into.

Now we have live news and interviews from the center of any conflict around the world, and the average person can discover anything they might like to know with just a few taps on a keyboard. Every time I watch the news, I am amazed by how destructive humanity has become. Wars around the world kill two people every minute with their machine guns and bombs (BBC News). Over the Top is perceived differently than it was when it first came out a century ago. War was an overwhelming presence for Americans in the early twentieth century. It was unavoidable and looming on the horizon for years before America officially joined the conflict.

Whereas the American people then knew a fear of war, now we know a fear of terror. We now fear a senseless death that could be avoided if only we choose not to go to the mall, the supermarket, or even school. The times are different, and Over the Top can give readers a first-hand account of a time and culture that they may never be able to understand from personal experience.

When Over the Top came out, it was poignant and readable, but now it’s showing its age. David Scott Stieghan, the United States Army Infantry Branch Historian at Fort Benning, GA, has revisited this book to make it more accessible to the average present-day reader. He clarifies some outdated language, explains more about Empey’s life and his reasons for writing, and contextualizes the history and environment that surrounded soldiers at all times.

We at the Press know that you will love this 100th anniversary edition of Over the Top as much as we do, and we look forward to commemorating World War I together.

Turn Back Before Baghdad

ISIS’s use of social media and other avenues to facilitate their terrorism is a relatively recent development in the preexisting conflict in the Middle East, and Iraq in particular. Conflict with this region of the world and the U.S. can be pinpointed to the 1990s with the First Gulf War.

In August of 1990, Saddam Hussein marched the Iraqi army on the oil province of Kuwait. The U.S. and the U.N. rushed to defend Kuwait with Operation Desert Shield, declaring that Hussein was to withdraw by January 15, 1991 or face repercussions. Hussein refused to surrender and, on January 16, 1991, Operation Desert Shield became Operation Desert Storm.

Unlike today, with entire news outlets dedicated to wartime media, many of the military leaders during Desert Shield/Storm held the media at arm’s length due to the lingering reactions against the Vietnam war’s media coverage. With Turn Back Before Baghdad, Laurence Jolidon collected firsthand dispatches from American and British correspondents, providing readers with intimate insight into the conversations, the snap decisions, and the moments that changed history.

While the media may now have the advantage of releasing their content nearly instantaneously, getting information straight from dispatches, letters, and more, can be thrilling. These primary sources can help readers begin to understand not simply what decision was made, but why a certain option was chosen over another. Jolidon was one of the first modern journalists to utilize this.

The upcoming twenty-fifth anniversary of the end of the First Persian Gulf War provides a timely context for acknowledging Jolidon’s legacy with the University of North Georgia Press’s publication of Turn Back Before Baghdad and its original frontline dispatches.

Test Tips!

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As a graduating senior, I am intimately familiar with finals week—the chaos that ensues, and the stress that plagues students at the end of each semester. So I’ve compiled a list of tips and techniques to (hopefully) see you safely to the other side of the semester’s end:

Prioritize. Some tests may be harder than others, some will be worth more of your grade, and some will be more difficult to study for. Make sure that you spend your time where it counts the most.

Create your own study guide. Even if your professor does provide one, it can be extremely helpful to outline the things that you think are import and make sure that you know the right answer. And some professors purposely ask a few questions on the test that weren’t on their study guide, so making your own can be especially important.

Study with a group. Sometimes having the accountability of other people in your class can help you focus on the most important aspects of the material, sometimes not. So, make sure you choose group members that want to actually study. And if you teach your group members, it will help you reinforce those concepts too.

Take breaks. Everyone’s brain gets overloaded sometimes—this is normal, but you don’t want it to get to that point. A good policy is to take a thirty-minute break every two hours or so. Take a walk, watch a video, or talk to a friend. Taking these breaks can also help your brain move your cram session into your long-term memory.

Rest up. I know it’s tempting to pull an all-nighter on Tuesday of finals week when you have two tests the next day, but don’t. While you may get in some extra study time, you’ll also forget most of it during the test because you’re sluggish and struggling to stay awake (and so is your brain). Trust me, I’ve been there.

Make it fun. Reward yourself with a sip of coffee or a piece of candy when you answer something right, or give yourself a quick study break after you tackle a difficult chapter. Studying can be a drag, but it doesn’t have to be.

Finals are a challenge, but that’s the point. College stretches us; it changes and grows us. And final exams are a big part of that. Prioritization, multitasking, organization, and more work together to help us both survive and thrive. You can do this!

Yusef Komunyakaa

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Yusef Komunyakaa was born James Brown in Bogalusa, Louisiana on April 29, 1947, and raised during the beginning of the Civil Rights movement in the South. Then, in 1969, he served a short stint in the U.S. Army before becoming the managing editor of the Southern Cross during the Vietnam War and earned a bronze star for his work there.

He lived a very full twenty-six years before he began writing poetry in 1973 and hit the ground running. He earned his first bachelor’s degree on the GI Bill from the University of Colorado Springs in 1975. Then, in 1977, his first book of poems, Dedications and Other Darkhorses, was published, followed by Lost in the Bonewheel Factory in 1979. He also earned an MA from Colorado State University and MFA in creative writing from University of California, Irvine during this time.

Komunyakaa’s poetry plays with the inclusion of personal narrative, jazz rhythm, and vernacular language to summon forth images of life during both peace and war. The first major recognition of his poetry followed the publication of Copacetic in 1984, which was a collection of poetry using colloquial speech and incorporating jazz influences. Then I Apologize for the Eyes in My Head (1986) won the San Francisco Poetry Center Award, and Dien Cai Dau (1988) won the Dark Room Poetry Prize and has been noted as being among the best writing of the Vietnam War.

Since then, Komunyakaa has published nine more collections including his most recent, The Emperor of Water Clocks (2015). He has also written a bit of prose over the years, and this work is collected in Blue Notes: Essays, Interviews & Commentaries (2000). Komunyakaa has also taught at several universities, including University of New Orleans, Indiana University, and Princeton University. He is currently the Distinguished Senior Poet in New York University’s graduate Creative Writing program.

Komunyakaa’s work, and the images that it conjures, has been instrumental in the effort to help civilians understand what soldiers went through during the Vietnam War and how it affected all aspects of their lives. So in honor of soldiers and veterans on his birthday, let’s remember what our soldiers and veterans have sacrificed for our safety and freedom and that this sacrifice wasn’t simply physical.

My black face fades,

hiding inside the black granite.

I said I wouldn’t,

dammit: No tears.

I’m stone. I’m flesh.

My clouded reflection eyes me

like a bird of prey, the profile of night

slanted against morning. I turn

this way–the stone lets me go.

I turn that way–I’m inside

the Vietnam Veterans Memorial

again, depending on the light

to make a difference.

I go down the 58,022 names,

half-expecting to find

my own in letters like smoke.

I touch the name Andrew Johnson;

I see the booby trap’s white flash.

Names shimmer on a woman’s blouse

but when she walks away

the names stay on the wall.

Brushstrokes flash, a red bird’s

wings cutting across my stare.

The sky. A plane in the sky.

A white vet’s image floats

closer to me, then his pale eyes

look through mine. I’m a window.

He’s lost his right arm

inside the stone. In the black mirror

a woman’s trying to erase names:

No, she’s brushing a boy’s hair.

—“Facing It”—Yusef Komunyakaa, from Dien Cai Dau (1988)

Financial Literacy Friday Week 4!

Financial Literacy Month is nearly over, and we come to you with our last Financial Literacy Fridays blog post. I know, I’m sad too. This last one is personal to me, as a soon-to-be college graduate in my early twenties. How can I build my future with a firm financial foundation? For those of you like me, or you who have nephews, granddaughters, or neighbors like me, I hope this helps. This week, we present Personal Finance in Your 20s for Dummies by Eric Tyson.

“When it comes to protecting your financial future, starting sooner rather than later is the smartest thing you can do. This hands-on guide provides you with the targeted financial advice you need to establish firm financial footing in your 20s and to secure your finances for years to come. Discover how to establish a financial foundation, navigate money issues in the real world, and maximize your income throughout your career. If you’re looking for sound, reliable advice on how to make smart financial choices in the real world, Personal Finance in Your 20s for Dummies has you covered.” (Amazon)

From Amazon

Personal Finance in Your 20s for Dummies includes such topics as

  • Budgeting and Saving
  • Everything Credit: Scores and Reports
  • Housing: Comparing Renting and Buying
  • Successful Investing Principles
  • The Lowdown on Health Insurance
  • Ten Ways to Save on a Car
  • Ten Things to Value More Than Your Money

We hope this encourages you to explore the world of personal finance and building new and wonderful habits from the very beginning, and we hope that this series has inspired you to grab the world of finance by the proverbial horns and start working to make your financial situation better.