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.
Try to define the word “poetry” and you’ll quickly find yourself in a maze of contradictions. It refers, most obviously, to printed verse, but it can also refer to especially lyrical prose, among other things. At The Paris Review Daily, Damian Searls uses etymology to get some answers. Related: Kate Angus on loving poetry but not poetry books.
“Eleven years later, the Atlantic Monthly editor, Thomas Wentworth Higginson, made a similar request to an obscure, retiring poet named Emily Dickinson who had written a letter asking if her verses ‘breathed.’ Her response was much like Melville’s, if typically elliptical: ‘Could you believe me—without? I had no portrait, now, but am small, like the Wren, and my Hair is bold, like the Chestnut Bur—and my eyes, like the Sherry in the Glass, that the Guest leaves—Would this do just as well?'” The age-old problem: how writers deal with publicity.
“‘Oh,’ she said, ‘a lot of dogs don’t like black people but they’re fine with everyone else.’ … Was this just a workplace microaggression, or are these dogs actually racist? I found myself grappling with the idea that not only do actual humans hate me for being black; dogs could also hate me for reasons that are out of my control.” Kelly Mays McDonald on how we have weaponized dogs in The Awl.
n+1’s Research Collective has posted the introduction to Ellen Willis’s No More Nice Girls: Countercultural Essays (1992), and plans to post a series of essays by the seamless activist and writer– “Her refusal to subsume her personality to a movement, or to ignore the things that were important to her, remains an inspiration.”