In the current issue of Tin House Robin Romm has a very compelling essay on the value of mean-spirited judgement in our novels, especially as empathy becomes reified into fiction’s greatest gift and virtue, or even treated as a therapeutic offering.
This past Wednesday Tracy K. Smith officially began her term as the new U.S. Poet Laureate. After adding her name to the guest book traditionally signed by poet laureates upon the start of their one year term, she read aloud from previously published poetry collections and introduced new work. Ron Charles from the Washington Post reports "[a]mong her most powerful new pieces were 'found poems' constructed from archival letters that African American veterans sent to President Lincoln asking for pensions they were owed." Smith is the first poet laureate appointed by the new Librarian of Congress, Carla Hayden. Stay tuned for her upcoming efforts to engage rural communities in poetry discussions.
In 1970, a journalist named Joseph Epstein wrote an essay for Harper’s that came to a frightening conclusion: that Epstein would, if possible, “wish homosexuality off the face of the Earth.” The incendiary language inspired Merle Miller, a former editor at the magazine, to publish a call-to-arms, "What It Means to Be a Homosexual," that became the basis of the book On Being Different. Emily Greenhouse puts the essay in context at Page-Turner.
World Book Night is scheduled for this Tuesday, and 25,000 volunteers will gather to distribute free books to “light and non-readers across America.” Last year, our own Edan Lepucki participated in the event and wrote about it for our site. However this year, if you’d like to participate on your own, you can enter the organization’s book giveaway to receive “5 free WBN editions to share with others.” Get out there and spread some literary love.
Philip Esler's new book Sex, Wives, and Warriors: Reading Biblical Narrative with its Ancient Audience, reintroduces our culture to some of the Bible’s most dramatic narratives.