This is a fantastic piece on W. H. Auden, “The Murder of Lidice”, and the importance of the ideological and political contexts of war. Joanna Bourke writes, “the flood of poems [after the Lidice massacre] actually served to draw attention away from the people of Lidice and towards the swollen sensibilities of the poets and their readers.”
This essay by Mensah Demary for Electric Literature on Nas and the literary legitimacy of hip-hop is the best thing you'll read this morning. "Nas is a world-class storyteller and practitioner of the narrative form," Demary writes, "I don’t understand why there isn’t more discussion around hip-hop’s literary value among today’s millennial-and-boomer intelligentsia."
Any writer who has felt the sting of rejection---that is, all writers---will be inspired by the story of Dick Wimmer, who has died at the age of 74. Over the course of 25 years, a total of 162 agents and publishers rejected Wimmer's first novel, Irish Wine, before it was finally published by Mercury House in 1989. The New York Times called it a "taut, finely written, exhaustingly exuberant first novel." The L.A. Times invoked James Joyce in its review. Wimmer, the iron man of the rejection wars, went on to publish two sequels, Boyne's Lassie and Hagar's Dream (All three books are now available in a single volume from Soft Skull.) The moral of Wimmer's story? Never give up.
Possibly inspired by YiR alum Elizabeth McCracken, who tweeted out tips for applying to MFA programs last week, Zak Smith (the man who painted every single page of Gravity’s Rainbow) tweeted a series of tips for aspiring art critics. Among other advice, he dictates to his tweeps: “If Andy Warhol could have made it, do not write about it.”
Charles Bock (Beautiful Children), in a recent interview, sounding perturbed: "Where are you right now? I’m in a writer’s room in Manhattan. There’s all these other people with their fucking computers doing their stupid little bullshit. It feels pointless. You wanna feel like it matters. It’s hard to do that when you’re in a room like this. At least it’s quiet."
Our friends at The Common have organized a Postcard Auction, and you have until May 20 to bid online. Users can bid on the chance to have well-known authors – such as Adam Johnson, Téa Obreht, Chris Ware, and Kiese Laymon – send handwritten postcards to the address of their choosing. Come on, now. This is your chance to get a handwritten note from an Orange Prize-winner.