Barbara Holland

Once considered an art form that called for talent, or at least a craft that called for practice, a poem now needs only sincerity. Everyone, we’re assured, is a poet. Writing poetry is good for us. It expresses our inmost feelings, which is wholesome. Reading other people’s poems is pointless since those aren’t our own inmost feelings.

“Once considered an art form that called for talent, or at least a craft that called for practice, a poem now needs only sincerity. Everyone, … Read More

Coaches and headmasters praise sport as a preparation for the great game of life, but this is absurd. Nothing could be more different from life. For one thing sports, unlike life, are played according to rules. Indeed, the rules are the sport: life may behave bizarrely and still be life, but if the runner circles the bases clockwise it’s no longer baseball.

“Coaches and headmasters praise sport as a preparation for the great game of life, but this is absurd. Nothing could be more different from life. … Read More

One’s own flowers and some of one’s own vegetables make acceptable, free, self-congratulatory gifts when visiting friends, though giving zucchini – or leaving it on the doorstep, ringing the bell, and running – is a social faux pas.

“One’s own flowers and some of one’s own vegetables make acceptable, free, self-congratulatory gifts when visiting friends, though giving zucchini – or leaving it on … Read More

Napping is too luxurious, too sybaritic, too unproductive, and it’s free; pleasures for which we don’t pay make us anxious. Besides, it seems to be a natural inclination. … Fighting off natural inclinations is a major Puritan virtue, and nothing that feels that good can be respectable.

“Napping is too luxurious, too sybaritic, too unproductive, and it’s free; pleasures for which we don’t pay make us anxious. Besides, it seems to be … Read More

The thing to remember is that children are temporary. As soon as they develop a sense of humor and get to be good company, maybe even remember to take the trash out and close the refrigerator door, they pack up their electronic equipment and their clothes, and some of your clothes, and leave in a U-Haul, to return only at Thanksgiving.

“The thing to remember is that children are temporary. As soon as they develop a sense of humor and get to be good company, maybe … Read More

I was getting sick and tired of being lectured by dear friends with their little bottles of water and their regular visits to the gym. All of a sudden, we’ve got this voluntary prohibition that has to do with health and fitness. I’m not really in favor of health and fitness.

“I was getting sick and tired of being lectured by dear friends with their little bottles of water and their regular visits to the gym. … Read More

In America, snobs who wouldn’t be seen dead with a lottery ticket play the stock market. We like to gamble. Winning, we have closed our eyes, leapt across the yawning abyss, and landed knee-deep in daisies. Even losing has a certain gloomy glamour: the gods of chance are worthy opponents; we have engaged them in hand-to-hand combat and though we lost, at least we shrank not from the contest.

“In America, snobs who wouldn’t be seen dead with a lottery ticket play the stock market. We like to gamble. Winning, we have closed our … Read More