If you’ve been on the Internet in the past week, you’ve probably heard about Beyoncé’s incredible new record, Lemonade. Noah Friedman at Wordshop 101 explains why Lemonade is great press for poets (particularly Warsan Shire, who is featured in the film). Andrew Kay writes on how reading poetry aloud connects us with the dead.
New this week is Nobel Laureate Orhan Pamuk’s Silent House. Also hitting bookshelves are Heroines by Kate Zambreno, The News from Spain by Joan Wickersham, and more posthumously published work by Kurt Vonnegut. In non-fiction, there’s There Was A Country: A Personal History of Biafra by Chinua Achebe and Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher, National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize-winner Timothy Egan’s biography of Edward Curtis.
The music video for “Sweater” by Belgian indie outfit Willow relies on an impressive balance of timing, treadmill coordination, projection, and camera-work. A lot of ground is covered in a single room. It’s positively crazy. You might even say it’s virtual insanity. (Sorry I’m not sorry.)
The CIA was known for unorthodox espionage techniques during the Cold War, but using Doctor Zhivago to undermine the U.S.S.R. is one of the strangest. The CIA helped print and distribute the banned book because it would make Soviets wonder “what is wrong with their government, when a fine literary work by the man acknowledged to be the greatest living Russian writer is not even available in his own country in his own language for his own people to read.”
Swarm and Spark, a new column at The Millions, invites you to write with your questions about publishing, the literary life, or writing. The column is written by two anonymous figures: a NYC editor with years in the industry and an MFA professor at a long-established program. Ask anything that has plagued, confounded, pleased or troubled you about your life in and around literature and you may be answered, always with respect: your question will be treated as anonymous as well. Send your true confessions, complaints and queries to [email protected].
“But every time I sat down in my desk, my heart raced. I forgot the words, my sentences sounded wordy, unnecessary, ugly.” Our own Bruna Dantas Lobato writes about anxiety and writer’s block for Ploughshares. Pair with her Staff Pick for The Millions, Juan Goytisolo’s Count Julian.