Aired: May 31, 2014

A Burnable Book

a-burnable-book-generic-coverMurder, mystery, and poetry come together in medieval scholar Bruce Holsinger’s (University of Virginia) new novel set in Chaucer’s London. Plus, Faulkner Fox (Virginia Foundation for the Humanities) has a new novel that explores the complexity of race relations for southerners in the 1980s. And, Michael O’Donnell (University of Virginia’s College at Wise) has been teaching for nearly five decades and has no plans of stopping.

Later in the show: Award-winning poet Sonia Sanchez is a pioneer in founding black studies. In a literary career that spans more than 42 years, she is most often associated with The Black Arts Movement. We hear from Sonia Sanchez and Dr. Brenda M. Greene, Director of the Center for Black Literature at Medgar Evers College of the City University of New York, as Sonia was honored by the Furious Flower Poetry Center at James Madison University. 

  • burnable book feature

    After spending years studying medieval stories, one Virginia scholar decided to write his own.  Allison Quantz reports on a new mystery novel that explores the gritty nooks and crannies of Chaucer’s London.


5 Comments on “A Burnable Book”

  1. Dru Morgan

    I’m a third year medical student and had O’D for French at UVa-Wise. I was adamant that I would not graduate from that school without having his course. In fact, so adamant, that I tried to convince the college to ignore the requirement for 201/202 part of a language so that I could take Spanish 101/102 and French 101/102. It worked.

    I learned basic French from O’D. What more could one expect to gain from a 101/102 course? And, for most students in his classes, that’s about as far as they’ll go. It’s everything else O’D teaches that make him so successful. I learned more about life, love, and being a man in this world from him than anyone else in my now 23 years of classroom education.

    As the WGR piece says – he still talks to students he had ages ago. I now consider O’D one of my best friends in this world. I e-mail back and forth with him on a nearly daily basis and his words of wisdom never cease to keep me yearning for motivation. Some of the things O’D said in his French courses didn’t resonate with me at the time. Only now, nearly four years later, do some of those teachings smack me right in the face.

    It’s Sunday afternoon and my email inbox dinged a few minutes ago. It was O’D. He doesn’t use his email at home. He’s at the college, checking in on things, and sending words of wisdom and love to his family, friends, and former students. All across this globe.

    The world is a better place because of him. And we’re all better people because he’s in it.


  2. Todd Thompson

    Former student of O’d. Just an example of the type of man he is, I became ill and without hesitation O’d asked If he needed to donate an organ to me. I replied ” no” in a joking manner, in seconds he responded again not joking that he would do whatever he needed. That’s just a small example of how special this man is. He has no idea how he has influenced my life. If I can treat someone half as good as O’d has treated me then I have been successful in life. Great professor even better friend.

  3. Kelley Libby

    Dru and Todd,

    I’m touched by your responses to our profile of O’D. What a difference good teachers can make in our lives. Thank you for listening and for sharing your stories.


  4. Narda Porter

    Like many who know him, I have had the honor of being woven into the tapestry of Michael O’Donnell’s joie de vivre! Almost thirty years ago, I had him as my elementary French professor. A few years later, I would get to call him neighbor because his house sits right next to mine. Fifteen years ago I was able to call him colleague when I joined the faculty of UVa-Wise. O’D is a man blessed by God. He has a beautiful wife and home, a terrific job, great friends and a lust for that joy of life! And he has a fabulous neighbor!

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