“Three weeks before she died on July 25, 2012, Marcia (Marty) Brown Stern ’54 sent me a registered letter, which began, ‘What is enclosed may astonish you.’ Indeed it did. The envelope included a draft of ‘marcia,’ an unpublished poem that Sylvia Plath ’55 wrote about their sophomore year together at Smith College in 1951.”
“But we are lured into believing that the first person is the manifestation of an authentic self. Or: we fall for the first person because we feel so little coherence in our own internal lives, and immersing ourselves in a sustained first person narrative gives us the false reassurance of an illusion.”
It’s not every day that you come across a defense of literary elitism, but The Guardian’s Nicholas Lezard is tired of explaining that not everyone is a critic. “What I want when I read a book review is to find out what someone cleverer than me and better read than me thinks about whatever’s being reviewed,” he writes.
Does poetry tickle your fancy? Let us go then, you and I, when the evening is spread out against the sky and check out these few different lists of the best poetry books of 2015, from sources like The Guardian and Tin House. Our own Year in Reading series is also chock full of poetry recommendations.
Sex ed for teenagers is a famously knotty subject, which explains why Pavel Astakhov, Russia’s children’s ombudsman, wants to eschew sex ed classes in favor of literature courses. “It is unacceptable to allow things that could corrupt children,” he said in a television interview. “The best sex education that exists is Russian literature.” (No word yet on what he thinks of Crime and Punishment.) (h/t The Paris Review)
For Electric Literature Jennifer Baker interviews Yahdon Israel who hosts the weekly literary interview series LIT on Youtube. On his inspiration for starting the show; “I watch a great deal of interviews on the Breakfast Club, James Lipton’s Inside the Actors Studio, Sway in the Morning, Hot 97, Between Two Ferns. And the people who are seldom interviewed are writers. In many ways being Black has taught me to notice what isn’t there. That lens lends itself to what I notice about pop culture: We’re missing from the conversation. Better put: We’re not included. And by “we” I mean writers.” Watch the show and subscribe, some interviews include Kaitlyn Greenidge, Claire Messaud, Victor LaValle and Jesmyn Ward.