“The first boy to kiss your mother later raped women / when the war broke out. She remembers hearing this / from your uncle, then going to your bedroom and lying down on the floor. You were at school.” The poetry of Warsan Shire, Young Poet Laureate of London, does not mess around.
John Jeremiah Sullivan is working on abandoning the “slightly exaggerated pastiche of himself as narrator” that’s driven most of his essays so far.
Writing about European immigration laws for the London Review of Books, Jeremy Harding drops this excellent line: “Perhaps we should agree to think of rights and values as limited resources, and admit that Europe is now caught in a bitter struggle over who can or can’t access them.”
Don DeLillo’s seventh book was his first big hit, but you’d never know it from looking at the work’s cover or title page. That’s because he wrote Amazons: An Intimate Memoir by the First Woman Ever to Play in the National Hockey League under the pseudonym, Cleo Birdwell. (Bonus: DeLillo’s 2009 story, “Midnight in Dostoevsky” was released from the New Yorker archive this week.)
In a By Heart piece for The Atlantic, Harriet Lane writes about the “bleak precise nature” of Philip Larkin‘s poetry (what Stephen Akey called “The Poetry of Mental Unhealth” in a Millions review) and about the power inherent in writing fiction. “In my everyday life I have no control, really: who does? But on paper, I hold all the cards. Fiction provides you with a way to shape a world, to exert the kind of power and agency our real lives so often lack.”
“Over three decades of almost constant composing and recording, he would amass over sixty LPs, running the gamut from early records with his band the Mothers of Invention that helped to create the milieu we think of as the Sixties, to caustic send-ups of that same counterculture, doo-wop pastiche, tape cut-ups, film scores, gonzo cabaret, big-band charts, way out prog, show tunes, music composed entirely on and for the Synclavier digital sampler, full-score orchestral music, and thousands of scabrous, exploratory guitar solos.” On Frank Zappa, music theory wizard and occasional public intellectual.