Ave atque Vale!

To all the participants in Shakespeare in the Spring,

I‘ve never been fond of goodbyes, so I’ll keep this short and sweet. 

My most heartfelt thanks to all of you who participated in Shakespeare in the Spring this year, whether you joined one call or all four. For me, reading Shakespeare is always a humbling experience, and learning from all of you made it even more so. So thank you for your time and energy, and for your observations and questions; for the courtesy you showed, and support you gave to everyone in the group. Lastly, a giant thank you to Phil Terry, less for giving me the opportunity to moderate this group–which essentially moderated itself–but for his creativity and vision in making Reading Odyssey what it is.

This morning, I received a lovely email from a participant describing how the supposedly mundane concerns of the last few decades–getting a job, building a career, establishing and supporting a family–had somehow prepared him, in ways he couldn’t possibly have imagined, for reading Shakespeare and other literary works, which he hadn’t encountered since college, and maybe hadn’t appreciated fully then. Perhaps this shouldn’t surprise us, though. After all, these “mundane concerns” the participant described are really just life and living, and if you take just one thing from Shakespeare in the Spring, I hope it’s the recognition of Shakespeare’s profound engagement, underneath all the poetic language and sparkling wordplay, with life. With read, honest-to-god, often brutally hard, but sometimes absolutely delightful, and always thought-provoking human life.

A poetry professor in college once told me, “When you’re 20 and a poet, you’re 20. When you’re 40 and a poet, you’re a poet.” I wish I could tell him now, “And the same goes for reading, too.”

I’ve addressed you as friends in all of my emails, and I really do mean that. Some people bond over climbing a mountain; well, we’ve read three Shakespeare plays together. Please keep in touch, especially if you decide to continue reading Shakespeare. If you’re ever in the Boston area, don’t hesitate to look me up; it’s always great to put a face to a name. Yet even if we never meet in person, I hope to see you again on another Odyssey.

Ave atque vale,

Richard

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