“I have wasted my life.” Over at the Paris Review, Dan Piepenbring takes a look at James Wright‘s “Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy’s Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota” and the many interpretations readers have brought to its famous last line. Among those readers is David Mitchell, who wrote about the same poem in an essay for The Atlantic‘s By Heart series earlier this year.
“I thought there were would be more in this writing life, an easier path to walk. I write those words and know they are the unwise thoughts of my younger self and that I am still too stubborn to give up on my dreams. When Annie Dillard invited me outside for that smoke, she knew very well what it would mean to a young writer like me. She intuited my ambitions and it was her way of encouraging me.” This essay is ostensibly about smoking cigarettes and playing catch with Annie Dillard, but it’s also about the incredibly important role that an established writer can play in helping a struggling up-and-comer.
Brian Nitz wants environmentalists and writers to seriously consider whether the word “sustainable” is, well, sustainable. (Related: this XKCD comic)
Electric Literature’s posted a story by Jesmyn Ward, author of the reigning National Book Award-winning novel Salvage the Bones, as part of their ongoing Recommended Reading series. It’s worth checking out. Likewise, I recommend getting your hands on the latest issue of Oxford American so you can check out Ward’s inaugural “Native Daughter” column.