The art of writing is a reckless spiral, an expansion outward, touching and connecting with the world around it through a vortex of language-chaos.

This spiral intersects, builds, collapses, and re-imagines its arc within the clashing voices of others, tangled in new sentences, paragraphs, and scraps of dialogue tossed from memories and cracked bindings.

When I am lost, as I am now, I find myself racing back and through my language fields – a beautiful junk yard of pages and half-memories, plots, and interconnecting story lines, imagined endings, metaphors, rhyme sequences, and rusted literary allusions.

It’s rather funny that someone now is paying me for it.

Composing a 12th grade English Literature Syllabus is fun, is glorious, is intriguing. It brings back memories of fantastic literary dreams and endeavors.

What will I make them read?

Considering the very long list of standards put forth by the great states of Texas, Arizona, and others, here’s what I’ve devised.


To the Lighthouse Virginia Woolf

A Modest Proposal Jonathan Swift

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglas, Frederick Douglas

For Whom the Bell Tolls Ernest Hemmingway

Shogun  James Clavell

Robinson Crusoe Daniel Defoe

Blood Meridian Cormac McCarthy

Short Stories

“The Awakening” Kate Chopin

Selections from “The Dubliners” James Joyce

“The Yellow Wallpaper” Charlotte Perkins Gilman


Selections from Paradise Lost John Milton

“The Sick Rose,” “The Tyger” William Blake

“Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood” William Woodsworth

“Song of Myself” Walt Whitman

“I Felt a Funeral, in My Brain” Emily Dickinson

“The Second Coming” William Butler Yeats

“The Waste Land” T.S. Elliot

“The Idea of Order at Key West” Wallace Stevens

Selections from “Spring and All” William Carlos Williams

“Garden” H.D (Hilda Doolittle)

“Poetry” Marianne Moore

“Cantebury Tales” Chaucer

“Howl” Allen Ginsberg

“Twenty-One Love Poems” Adrienne Rich

“The Negro Speaks of Rivers” Langston Hughes

“The Weary Blues” Langston Hughes


Hamlet William Shakesphere

Death of a Salesman Arthur Miller

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead Tom Stoppard


“A Room of Our Own” Virginia Woolf

“Preface” to the First Edition of Leaves of Grass, 1855, Walt Whitman

“Tradition and the Individual Talent,” 1919 T.S. Eliot

“Modern Poetry,” 1925 Mina Loy

Informational Essays on: British Colonialism, Globe Theater, Rise of the Church of England, Romanticism, Realism, and Modernism

Constitutional/Historical Documents:

Common Sense Thomas Paine

Declaration of Independence Thomas Jefferson

Selections from The Federalist Papers Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, John Jay (#10 and #51)

Ahh the joys of reading, writing, and the abstract thought that we realize our past, our present, and our future within.

Any suggestions? What else can I have them read?