Abigail McFee is a columnist at the Tufts Daily. She is a senior majoring in English. She can be reached at abigail.mcfee@tufts.edu


Advice from Dead Poets (And Some Living): W.H. Auden on making the leap

This morning, a friend showed me a video of myself that was taken almost two years ago on my 20th birthday. In the 90-second clip, I am holding court over a living room of our friends, unable to finish a sentence without laughing, my hair bleached from two months of tour guiding. I look blissfully […]


Advice from Dead Poets (and Some Living): Wendell Berry on feeling everything fully

I took a job last summer because my bosses loved poetry. They were looking for a nanny for their three-year-old son. When I came to their house for an interview, expecting questions about past childcare experience and summer availability, they sat me down and asked if I’d ever read Wendell Berry. The 82-year-old Kentucky native is […]


Advice from Dead Poets (and Some Living): Laura Kasischke on friendship

I fell in love with Laura Kasischke because of a book title and a bizarre poem. I was standing in a bookstore in Montreal, looking through volumes to escape the snow. The title that caught my attention belongs to Kasischke’s sixth book of poetry: “Gardening in the Dark” (2004). I skimmed through the collection, reading […]


Advice from Dead Poets (and Some Living): W.S. Merwin on waiting at a red light

Yesterday morning, I sat in the backseat of a friend’s car in downtown Boston at a red light that never turned green. I don’t mean that as an exaggeration. The chorus of blaring horns stretching for a block behind us didn’t tip us off to the fact that the light was broken. We sat with […]


Advice from Dead Poets (and Some Living): Robin Coste Lewis on interpreting text messages

“His messages became… curt,” a friend explained to me over coffee, shrugging her shoulders. She was describing a shift that had taken place in an undefined relationship: the trailing-off in text messages that often signals the end of knowing the person. “Mmm,” I agreed. “You always know.” I didn’t mean her, specifically. I meant that […]


Advice from Dead Poets (and Some Living): Elizabeth Barrett Browning on taking risks

I save lines of poetry in the Notes app on my phone, interspersed with grocery lists and reminders. At first, I expected that the words would act as trail markers: One thought would lead to the next. I imagined I would reread old notes, find words that were once meaningful and see that they were […]


Advice from Dead Poets (and Some Living): T.S. Eliot on living with fear

I wasn’t supposed to enjoy the poem as much as I did. That’s the sense I got when I first read “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” (1915) as an assignment for my AP English class. The famous poem by T.S. Eliot is filled with obscure allusions, and the images are jarring. (Eliot compares […]


Advice from Dead Poets (and Some Living): James Crews on what we lose

The thing about poetry books is that they are often slim: they fit easily into purses and suitcases, fall unnoticed into the crack behind your bed. That’s where I found my copy of “The Book of What Stays” (2011) yesterday. The author, James Crews, is not dead. He lives on an organic farm in Vermont, […]


Advice from Dead Poets (and Some Living): Pablo Neruda on creating space

Last summer, a few of my friends and I decided to start a book club. It was nothing original — mainly an excuse to get together once a week and eat brownies. The club withered after we made our first selection (a 600-page novel, which only half of us even started). After that, we hung […]


Advice from Dead Poets (and Some Living): Mary Oliver on applying for jobs

I spent Thursday afternoon stalking an internship description as if it were a crush on Facebook. I read it so many times that I had the desired qualifications memorized, and they started to feel not widely applicable but eerily personal. “I’m intellectually curious!” I thought. “I’m accurate!” I crafted my cover letter with great care, […]


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