Monday, September 14, 2009

Fathers and Sons in Hamlet

Shakespeare's Hamlet is a revenge play, but throughout the play we get a clear picture of the character of Hamlet as a man who sees his duty before him but who shirks it at every opportunity. Part of his dilemma is that he knows that the murder of his father was wrong, but he also realizes that vengeance is wrong.

There are 3 sets of fathers and sons in Hamlet: King Hamlet and Prince Hamlet, King Fortinbras and Prince Fortinbras, and Polonius and Laertes. Both Laetres and Prince Fortinbras serve as foils for Hamlet. That is, they provide a contrast to Hamlet and his character and behavior.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

The Mayan City of Chichen Itza

Chichen Itza is a Mayan City on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. It was established hundreds of years before the arrival of Christopher Columbus and most likely served as the religious center of the Yucatan.

Today it is the second most visited site of Mexico and is one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. The ruins include the Kukulkan pyramid which is also known as “El Castillo” (the castle).

The Maya originated around 3,000 years ago in present-day Central America and Mexico. The Mayan empire flourished in the southern regions from around 250 AD to 900 AD. The empire in the south collapsed around 900 AD, but the northern Maya thrived until the Spanish conquests of the 16th century AD.

The Maya were skilled farmers and created a sophisticated written language. They also carried on trade throughout a network of cities that went as far south as Panama and as far north as Central Mexico. They developed a number system which included the concept of zero and used their mathematical knowledge along with celestial observations to develop a sophisticated calendar and to create monuments to observe and commemorate movements of the moon, the sun, and Venus. Several of these monuments can still be seen at Chichen Itza today.

In the summer of 2008, we visited Chichen Itza. You can view a short video tour we created for Eye On Literature.

Chichen Itza

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Poetry and the Writing Process with Michael Minassian

In this podcast recorded in the Summer of 2008, Professor Gary Kay and I talk about the writing process and poetry. During our discussion, I read three of my published poems and we talked about the evolution and background of each poem. The poem "Crazy Jane..." was workshopped at a 1999 Poetry Conference in Sante Fe, New Mexico. The leader of that workshop was a poet and editor named Robert McDowell. You can visit Robert's website and sign up for his Free Poetry Mentor Newsletter at:

Robert McDowell

During this podcast I also mentioned the writer Julia Cameron, author of The Artist's Way and several other excellent books on creativity and writing. You can find out more at:

The Artist's Way

Here is a video of our discussion

You can also hear us discuss a fourth poem entitled "The Arboriculturist" at my blog:

Michael Minassian