Monthly Archives: December, 2017

In the Archives: Thomas Nast and Santa Claus (1862-1890)

Humor in America

Ho! Ho! Ho! Ho! Ho! Ho!

I can remember my first scholarly thought. Well, I should say that I can visualize the context of my first scholarly thought. Like a Polaroid of a younger me looking through a View-Master: I know that I saw something, and how, but can’t remember what.

I can almost replicate the place from memory, but will never replicate the time. Heraclitus, who was smarter than the average Greek, once wrote fragmentedly, “You cannot step into the same river, for other waters and yet others go ever flowing on.” True, but the Greeks widely preached the maxim to “Know Thyself,” and I remember helping my grandfather once, and being rewarded with a copy of Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

To be precise it was The Annotated Huckleberry Finn, edited by Michael Patrick Hearn, copyright 1981 by Clarkson N. Potter, republished by

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A Fond Farewell

half_moonIn October of 2011, Tracy Wuster took a chance and brought me on as poetry editor, even though I don’t have the academic credentials of my HIA colleagues.

Drafting seventy blog posts on a subject I’m passionate about has been a privilege and a great learning experience.

As my monthly participation in this collaborative writing project comes to an end, and tumultuous 2017 becomes a memory, I’m feeling a bit wistful. The only American Poem that mirrors my emotions and feels apropos is aimed at the heart instead of the funny bone. It was penned by anthologist, translator, critic and poet, Louis Untermeyer, who was born in New York City in 1885, and died forty years ago today.

End of the Comedy

Eleven o’clock, and the curtain falls.
The cold wind tears the strands of illusion;
The delicate music is lost
In the blare of home-going crowds
And a midnight paper.

The night has grown martial;
It meets us with blows and disaster.
Even the stars have turned shrapnel,
Fixed in silent explosions.
And here at our door
The moonlight is laid
Like a drawn sword.

— Louis Untermeyer

Warmest wishes for the coming year and beyond. Thank you for your readership. Keep reading and writing poetry!

yours truly,