Following Sarah Hepola’s devastating New York Times Magazine profile of Cat Marnell with empathy and queer theory, Jane Hu’s piece on what it means to read Marnell, to follow her and crave her work even as her work destroys her, merits reading and rereading.
Poet and essayist Adrienne Rich passed way this afternoon at the age of 82, the LA Times confirms. Her influence on writing and activism is immeasurable, and this is a sad day of all of literature. The Poetry Foundation’s short biography of the poet is not to be missed, and nor are her poems “Final Notions,” and “For the Dead.”
“I began to wonder: what would a manifesto for bad poetry look like? Would it differ either superficially or deeply from the art’s graver manifestos? It really wouldn’t have to. It would merely have to persuade, and persuasion sounds very much the same whether it is honest or dishonest. If it was any good it would hold great attractiveness as a snappy piece of writing, but, if followed, it would be certain to produce bad poetry. Some harmless sophistry. In this it would be more effective than any positive manifesto, because, if guided well, no-one who sets out to write a bad poem is going to accidentally write an excellent one.” Erik Kennedy lays out a manifesto for bad poetry, titled “Precepts for Perfection in Poetry,” for The Rumpus. For a counterpoint, pair with our own Nick Ripatrazone‘s look at very good and very sad poetry, “The Saddest Poem Ever Written.”
At HTML Giant, Catherine Lacey interviews David Shields, who says that his new book, How Literature Saved My Life, drew material from his stated identity as a “highly self-conscious lab rat.” For more, you can read our own Mark O’Connell’s review of his book in the Times.