What We Are Reading Today: Hosts and Guests by Nate Klug

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Updated 23 September 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Hosts and Guests by Nate Klug

Nate Klug has been hailed by the Threepenny Review as a poet who is “an original in Eliot’s sense of the word.” 

In Hosts and Guests, his exciting second collection, Klug revels in slippery roles and shifting environments. The poems move from a San Francisco tech bar and a band of Pokémon Go players to the Shakers and St. Augustine, as they explore the push-pull between community and solitude, and past and present. 

Hosts and Guests gathers an impressive range: Critiques of the “immiserated quiet” of modern life, love poems and poems of new fatherhood, and studies of a restless, nimble faith. At a time when the meanings of hospitality and estrangement have assumed a new urgency, Klug takes up these themes in chiseled, musical lines that blend close observation of the natural world, social commentary, and spiritual questioning. 

As Booklist has observed of his work, “The visual is rendered sonically, so perfectly one wants to involve the rest of the senses, to speak the lines, to taste the syllables.”


What We Are Reading Today: Ravenna; Capital of Empire, Crucible of Europe by Judith Herrin

Updated 29 October 2020

What We Are Reading Today: Ravenna; Capital of Empire, Crucible of Europe by Judith Herrin

At the end of the fourth century, as the power of Rome faded and Constantinople became the seat of empire, a new capital city was rising in the West. Here, in Ravenna on the coast of Italy, Arian Goths and Catholic Romans competed to produce an unrivaled concentration of buildings and astonishing mosaics. For three centuries, the city attracted scholars, lawyers, craftsmen, and religious luminaries, becoming a true cultural and political capital. Bringing this extraordinary history marvelously to life, Judith Herrin rewrites the history of East and West in the Mediterranean world before the rise of Islam and shows how, thanks to Byzantine influence, Ravenna played a crucial role in the development of medieval Christendom.

Drawing on deep, original research, Herrin tells the personal stories of Ravenna while setting them in a sweeping synthesis of Mediterranean and Christian history. She narrates the lives of the Empress Galla Placidia and the Gothic king Theoderic and describes the achievements of an amazing cosmographer and a doctor who revived Greek medical knowledge in Italy, demolishing the idea that the West just descended into the medieval “Dark Ages.”

Beautifully illustrated and drawing on the latest archaeological findings, this monumental book provides a bold new interpretation of Ravenna’s lasting influence on the culture of Europe and the West.