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“Night is day, and twilight’s gone away…”

When the pandemic began, friends asked me what insights I could glean from studying and writing about the Middle Ages for as long as I did. “Nothing,” I told them, which remains true. Yet I can’t shake the feeling that we’re living through an apocalypse—not necessarily in the religious, end-of-the-world sense, but in the literal … Continue reading “Night is day, and twilight’s gone away…”

I Have Started for Canaan: The Story of the African American Town of Sugarland

I don’t have romantic notions about what writers do—but every so often, our work has profound implications for neighbors and friends. In January 2019, I met two great-granddaughters of the founders of Sugarland, a town established by former slaves immediately after emancipation in rural Montgomery County, Maryland. My new friends were tenacious historians who had … Continue reading I Have Started for Canaan: The Story of the African American Town of Sugarland

“We’ve tried potions and waxen dolls, and none of us could find any cures…”

This blog has been fallow for six months. I regret the silence, but not the reasons. I’ve gotten involved in three local nonprofits, including one whose leadership asked me to help them write a book. Theirs is the sort of worthwhile project a history-writer dreams about, I’m working with good people, and I can’t wait … Continue reading “We’ve tried potions and waxen dolls, and none of us could find any cures…”

“I can’t get unwound, why do I throw myself into the night…”

Poets pray for remembrance on the pages of an anthology—but whenever I saw Fenton Johnson’s poems in collections of African American verse, the selections were too limited for me to get a real sense of him. Fond of forgotten writers, I tracked down more of Johnson’s work to find out who he was and what … Continue reading “I can’t get unwound, why do I throw myself into the night…”

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