Don Meyer is a man of many parts. In his youth he grabbed his a guitar and lugged along his Bridgestone mountain bike to spend time in Europe. His plan? To spend a year in Italy. Working on his Master’s degree he felt the tug of renaissance literature — John Webster and Shakespeare in particular. “I just wondered,” he says, “why Italy in particular, held such sway in renaissance literature.” He had noticed that so many playwrights in England used Italian plots, characters, and settings; it piqued his curiosity even more. He just had to immerse himself in this! His passion for the romance languages let him dig deeper into literature, and connect the dots between cultures and language.
And so fast forward to 2021, with 29 years of teaching under his belt, Don Meyer’s literature class at Benjamin Franklin High School, whether it is focused on Dante’s Inferno or Macbeth, draws on this his ‘teacher training’ — much of it on wheels, so to speak. I stumbled into this conversation over a cup of coffee — turns out he once worked as a barista in Italy. (He’s got an espresso maker at his desk!)
IN THIS PODCAST I talk to him about all this and, just like a bike ride, we make a few detours. A foray into C.S. Lewis and his ‘prophetic’ insights into life today with so many friction points in democracy and social media. Don’s analysis of Lewis’s work from The Screwtape Letters to his science fiction novels like Out of the Silent Planet is priceless.
Side Note: As a teacher, and as a writer, I have come to realize that the act of podcasting is much more than an ‘interview’ or a conversation. It gives me access to deeper, richer, and even random insights I couldn’t get from a TED Talk or any other social media channel. The mic is just another piece of hardware. But it has an uncanny way of allowing ideas to bubble up.