Ancient World Now:Theories of Mycenaean Collapse

Click here for direct link to audio podcast Episode #38.

Click here for previous episodes.

Migration and movements of peoples has been a constant ever since Australopithecus set up camp in a more advantageous spot one day four million years ago. This photo by Christian Sinibaldi, posted on the Guardian U.K. website, shows the boat graveyard on the Italian island of Lampedusa, where North African migrants abandon their vessels on their flight to more advantageous spots in Europe. In my constant quest to see the ancient world in our everyday modern lives, I encourage you to consider the current explosive uprisings throughout North Africa & the Middle East as an overlay onto your understanding of the events that precipitated the Greek Dark Ages.

Award ceremony and podcast and taxes, oh my! An overwhelming number of factors contributed to my missing our last podcast. Hope you can forgive me! To make up for it, in today’s podcast I am trotting out a new theory on the destruction of Mycenaean civilization. Michael Shanks and Gary Devore, archaeology professors at Stanford University, discussed their own theory in last week’s Archaeology of Greece class.

For many years now I have been on the children’s book committee for the Northern California Book Awards. Each year for the past 30 years, committees have gathered together from October to April to review the year’s published books from Northern California’s authors. There are dozens and dozens of books to read for each category: fiction, general non-fiction, creative non-fiction, poetry, children’s literature, and translation for poetry & fiction. In the spring I do NCBA work and in the fall I do work for Litquake, the annual literary festival in San Francisco. I am honored to be a part of these organizations and my volunteer work is one of the many ways I contribute my creative energy to the Bay Area writer’s community. As I was writing this, we had a little earthquake! Felt like a truck hit the building. It disturbed the cats (including Achilles, my tuxedo warrior) and we all fled to different parts of the house! And today is the anniversary of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake! Yet another ancient world connection: ancient earthquakes. Think Crete, Delphi, Sicily, and Alexandria, to name a few.

Ancient World Now:Isis

Click here for direct link to audio Episode #17.

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Come by the San Francisco Main Library this Thursday & Friday for my Shakespeare Kidquake event. On Thursday from 11:15-noon a 5th grade class does A Midsummer Night’s Dream. On Friday from 3-5 pm, a bunch of teens do Theatre Terminate, my Shakespeare death scenes performance. Stop in to say hi!

“Oh mighty Is-is-is-isssss!” A cool 70’s morning show that I used to watch. Ah, the good old days. Lounging around on a Saturday morning. And guess what! Our 70’s heroine was a teacher who transformed into Isis to fight the forces of evil! Maybe she was my inspiration! “You will soar as the falcon soars!” Except that looks like a raven.

My favorite part of Isis worship is the nilometer, for the waters of the Nile were sacred. In fact, a jug of water from the Nile was included in their rituals, no matter how far from Egypt the devotees were. Nilometers, measured sea levels & were built in port cities around the Mediterranean to determine sea levels. Very cool old school mechanical instrument to open the season of navigation in the spring—and the annual flooding of the Nile River. This flooding was essential for the growing of grain along the banks of the Nile. Egypt was famous in the ancient world for its grain production and was the chief factor in Rome’s subjugation of Egypt. Without Egypt’s grain supply, the Roman empire would have collapsed and mass starvation would have occurred.

The nilometers were made obsolete when the Nile was dammed in the 20th century. Ah, progress….

Here’s our real honest-to-goodness Isis:
Love that headdress!

Litquake 2010

Once again, I’ll be doing a workshop for kids at this year’s Litquake. Kidquake & Teenquake are held at the San Francisco
Public Library’s Main branch at the Civic Center. Here are the deets for my Teenquake event:

Has Shakespeare gone mad? Everybody dies in a tragedy, so join the mayhem in this death scenes workshop.
Check it all out with Gwen Minor at
Here is a challenge for those of you who have done Shakespeare with me. Match each Shakespeare character with his or her final words.

Desdemona “As sweet as balm, as soft as air, as gentle,—O Antony! —Nay, I will take thee too. What should I stay—“
Julius Caesar “O happy dagger! This is thy sheath; there rust, and let me die.”
Romeo “Farewell: commend me to my kind lord: O, farewell!”
Cleopatra “The rest is silence.”
Juliet “Mine & my father’s death come not upon thee, nor thine on me!”
Hamlet “Here’s to my love! O true apothecary! Thy drugs are quick. Thus with a kiss I die.”
Laertes “Et tu, Brute! Then fall, Caesar.”


Grammateus means “writer” in Greek.

Welcome to the blog!

Every season has its events. For the fall, my favorite event is San Francisco’s Litquake. This is Litquake’s 10th anniversary, so plenty of celebratory activities are planned. The eight-day festival culminates in the Lit Crawl, a 6-11 pm walk down Valencia/16th Street area stopping into cafes, bookstores, nightclubs, & even laundromats, to hear the spoken word. An event not to miss, as thousands of literary revelers crowd the Mission. Check out the line-up:

I’ll be doing a Litquake workshop for junior high students on Thursday, October 15th at the Main Library. With helmets and swords I’ll be introducing them to the Trojan War with my very own abbreviated version of The Iliad. By the time they leave the library they will know who was “the face that launched a thousand ships” and the original meaning of Achilles’ heel. Take a look at my book to see the full play used by teachers in their classrooms.

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