Art crashes into life for author Erica Cantley when she finds herself behind a podium in front of a class of high school seniors, teaching HAMLET as her father died, thousands of miles to the south in Costa Rica.
Interspersing interactions with her teenage students and memories of her father, desperately sick and difficult to reach in his adopted jungle home, Cantley guides her students through HAMLET -- written four centuries ago -- while reflecting upon the impending loss of a parent in the never-ending now.
The result is a powerful memoir of a love that will not die, the timeless story of the bond between parent and child, the magic created by a gifted teacher and willing pupils, and finally, the exploration of the timeless themes of HAMLET, the study in the transition of power through the generations.
“….akin to Helen Macdonald’s H is for Hawk – that passionate paean to a much-mourned father….” -Richard Wertime, Author of Citadel on the Mountain: A Memoir of Father and Son “A Dead Poets Society for a new age…”
-Cassandra Csencsitz, publisher of Alcoholite at the Altar: The Writer and Addiction
“Akin to Helen Macdonald’s H is for Hawk – that passionate paean to a much-mourned father – Cantley’s narration, interspersing bouts of memory with her daily hands-on teaching, brings vividly to life both her robust interactions with the teens in her class…and her continuous meditation on how leading them through HAMLET both enriches and reflects upon her relationship with her father.”
-Richard Wertime, author of Citadel on the Mountain: A Memoir of Father and Son
“Living in and with Shakespeare’s HAMLET transports the author from her plane of personal loss to a realm of timeless truths about life and death. Readers will find themselves led by a lively, creative and committed teacher to a greater understanding of Shakespeare’s most famous tragedy.”
-Lisa Klein, author of Ophelia, Lady MacBeth’s Daughter, and Love Disguised
“Whether you are a Shakespeare lover, dealing with grief, a teacher, of some combination of the three, Teaching HAMLET as My Father Died is for you. Erica Cantley’s book is filled with insight, depth and honesty as she recalls her students’ reflections, draws parallels between fiction and reality, and grapples with the loss of her father.”
- Ian Doescher, author of William Shakespeare Star Wars series and the Pop Shakespeare series
Teaching Hamlet as My Father Died, Erica Cantley seamlessly interweaves a profound personal loss with the literary themes and archetypal insights of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Through her artful yet vulnerable storytelling, she communicates both the ephemeral nature of life and the mysterious timelessness of love.
-Lisa Oz, author US: Transforming Ourselves and the Relationships that Matter Most
Anyone who performs, or teaches, or speaks for a living is all too familiar with the implication that “the show must go on”. Cleverly structured and gently written, [Teaching Hamlet] is a terrific read. I found myself jealous of the lucky students in her class, and immediately wanted to share it with my own father. A very special book indeed.
-Conor Hanratty, host of The Hamlet Podcast
Erica holds a BA in Literature/Writing from Columbia University, where she studied with renowned Shakespeare scholar, James Shapiro, and an MA in Literature/Writing from Arcadia University. She taught high school English literature, AP English, creative writing, and film at her alma mater, The Academy of the New Church, in Bryn Athyn, PA for sixteen years. As a teacher, Erica strives to instill in her students an appreciation for classic storytelling forms as the basis for all the tales we tell today. Her primary areas of scholarly interest are Shakespeare, spirituality, food, and hospitality. Erica wrote the memoir Teaching Hamlet As My Father Died based on her experiences grappling with deep grief, and the demands of the classroom, with the help of Shakespeare’s greatest tragedy. She first became comfortable working a room and standing behind a podium during her 20-year career in fine dining management, which culminated in positions as the first female maitre d’ for chefs Daniel Boulud and Mario Batali in New York City. Erica maintains an active connection with the food world, and is currently revising a roman-a-clef based on her time working as a maitre d’ in New York City, pre-and-post 9/11.