Humanities Commentaries on VPR

Peter A. Gilbert's Look at Life through the Humanities

 

Older VPR Commentaries

Peter A. Gilbert’s older Vermont Public Radio commentaries are listed in reverse chronological order below. If you know the title of the piece you wish to read, use the search box to find it.

Black Like Me (8-20-2015)

Given the recent escalation of racial tension nationwide, commentator Peter Gilbert has some thoughts about empathy—about videos of recent racial incidents, To Kill a Mockingbird, and a nonfiction book published the year after Harper Lee’s classic novel.

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Channel Firing (5-20-2015)

Commentator Peter Gilbert explores a poem that presents the most somber of subjects—the coming of war and war’s apparent inevitability—with surprising humor and satiric wit.

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Hard Lessons (5-8-2015)

As the media report incident after incident of African American men being killed at the hands of police, most recently in Baltimore, commentator Peter Gilbert keeps thinking of something a professor said.

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Mount Tamboura (3-31-2015)

On April 5, 1815, two hundred years ago this Sunday, Mount Tambora, a volcano in Indonesia, erupted; the roar was mistaken for cannon fire eight hundred miles away. The eruption continued for four months. It was the largest in human history, ten times more powerful than the better-known Krakatau.

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LBJ’s American Idealism (3-12-2015)

On the fiftieth anniversary of one of President Lyndon Johnson’s greatest moments commentator Peter Gilbert reflects on LBJ’s inspiring idealism and civil rights success that, paradoxically and tragically, mixed with great personal faults and military failure.

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Bent Birches (2-4-2015)

Quite a few times now this winter, commentator Peter Gilbert has gone out to shake snow from birches around his house to help them to stand up straight again, reminding him of some great poetry, and a big problem.

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The Owl

We hear the expression “the less fortunate” often during the holiday season. It’s a phrase that reminds commentator Peter Gilbert of a poem rising out of World War I a century ago.

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Prodigy (12-5-2014)

Genius is a mysterious thing. It’s hard to know where it comes from, and sometimes it just vanishes. Commentator Peter Gilbert has the sad and mysterious story of a local prodigy.

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Lincoln’s Bixby Letter (11-19-2014)

Commentator and Vermont Humanities Council executive director Peter Gilbert argues that it isn’t just the moving eloquence of a famous letter from President Lincoln that makes the document a masterpiece, but its empathy and moving sentiment.

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Conspiracy to Burn (11-6-2014)

This month marks the anniversary of an almost forgotten—and almost devastating—chapter in the history of New York City—and our nation. Commentator Peter Gilbert says it’s a story of vengeance, deluding oneself, and, fortunately, incompetence.

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Cultural Revolution (10-1-2014)

Recently a mutual friend introduced commentator and Vermont Humanities Council executive director Peter Gilbert to poet Anita Feng, who told him a personal story about the remarkable power of poetry.

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Move-in Day (8-18-2014)

It’s that time of year when many parents are dropping their children off to begin college, and commentator Peter Gilbert is reminded of one parenting style that may be problematic—but certainly isn’t new.

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War and Irony (8-7-2014)

This summer, several virtually simultaneous anniversaries of war has commentator and Vermont Humanities Council executive director Peter Gilbert thinking about how ironic war is, and how tragic.

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