MWD41 - On Other People's Words

or listening to what matters

Welcome to Midweek DinnerThere’s a whole story behind that name, something about the way Wednesday creeps up on you, and you have to cobble together a meal out of whatever you can scrounge from the fridge. And yes, sometimes there is talk of food in this place. But mostly it’s about what I’ve been reading, in print and online; or what I’ve been thinking, in clarity and confusion; or what I am hoping, in fear and in joy. And you are always invited to join in.

—— The best conversations take place around the dinner table. — —


There are times to speak, and there are times to listen. And today, it’s time to listen:

To Jericho Brown and his poem “Inaugural” which includes this intention which fills me up right to the top:

The year is new,
And we mean to use our imaginations.

To Amanda Gorman and her poem “The Hill We Climb” and the strength of her hands carrying those words as careful as water.

To President Biden and his recognition of “this winter of peril and significant possibilities” in today’s extraordinarily ordinary inaugural address.

And to the shiver of joy that arrived with those words: Madam Vice President.

I hear you. I hear you. I hear you.


Unexpected Joy Department:
(because I’ve been holding my breath for more than four years)

When my children were babes, we would spend hours at our aquarium. It remains one of the most strangely calming places I’ve ever been. So imagine my delight to learn they had created this mindfulness exercise. No, don’t imagine it. Experience it.


Published This Week:
(It’s been a busy stretch of days!)

I still think Elizabeth Catte’s book What You Are Getting Wrong about Appalachia is one of the most important social commentaries of the last 5 years, and her latest, Pure America: Eugenics and the Making of Modern Virginia proves it wasn’t a fluke. Even if you think you have no interest in the history of the eugenics movement, I can promise you will find this book fascinating.

Pure America

On Sundays, We Read Poetry. Last Sunday was Ted Kooser’s The Wheeling Year, the beginning of a year-long read through this not-poetry collection.

The Wheeling Year

Daniel Nayeri’s Everything Sad is Untrue is in my top three titles of 2020, and I’m fairly certain it’s about to be honored by the ALA Youth Media Awards in a big way. BUT, as my likely-too-complicated review might prove, this is “not just a kids’ book.”

Everything Sad is Untrue

And has been my joy and my honor to celebrate his book, and now to share this interview with the world. Daniel Nayeri is a beautiful, wonderfully thoughtful writer, and I’m grateful for his words.

Daniel Nayeri Interview

Finally, this week’s Lexicon with a word from Joan Didion’s Slouching Towards Bethlehem

The Lexicon - Anomie