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Paul Smethers, a former high school English teacher, is an Associate with the Popular Materials team. He hosts a monthly poetry appreciation group, the Word Art Poetry Discussion Group and teaches a 6-week poetry writing course in the spring, Wolf Tickets and Pickled Peppers.

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Christina Rossetti's poem Goblin Market is one of her best known. Although it is ostensibly about two sisters' misadventures with goblins, critics have interpreted the piece in a variety of ways, seeing it as an allegory about temptation and salvation, a commentary on Victorian gender roles and female agency, and a work about erotic desire and social redemption.

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Christina Georgina Rossetti, born on December 5, 1830,  was an English poet who wrote a variety of romantic, devotional, and children's poems. We begin today with a selection of devotional poems, then turn our attentions toward other topics—love, jealousy, and the burgeoning world of Victorian society.

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A short story cycle is a collection of short stories in which the narratives are specifically composed and arranged with the goal of creating an enhanced or different experience when reading the group as a whole as opposed to its individual parts. Today’s story from the Sherwood Anderson short story cycle Winesburg, Ohio, is entitled “Loneliness,” and concerns the character Enoch Robinson.

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Winesburg, Ohio is a 1919 short story cycle by the American author Sherwood Anderson. The book consists of twenty-two stories, with the first story, "The Book of the Grotesque,” serving as an introduction. Our first story from this cycle is entitled “Hands.” In his Memoirs, Sherwood Anderson says that he wrote "Hands" at one sitting on a dark, snowy night in Chicago. It was, he says, his "first authentic tale," so good that he laughed, cried, and shouted out of his boarding house window.

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Today’s author Bernard Malamud was an American novelist and short story writer. Along with Saul Bellow, Joseph Heller, and Phillip Roth, he was one of the best known American Jewish authors of the 20th century. His baseball novel The Natural was adapted into a 1984 film starring Robert Redford. Today’s story, “The First Seven Years,” depicts a Polish immigrant’s desire to see his daughter achieve a better life. His notion of that life, however, is not the same as hers.

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Samuel Pepys is most famous for the diary he kept from 1660 until 1669, while still a relatively young man. Writing for himself alone, he used a little-known shorthand that was not deciphered until the nineteenth century, when the diary was published more than 200 years later. It provides a combination of personal revelation and eyewitness accounts of great events, such as the Great Plague of London, the Second Dutch War, and the Great Fire of London.