Jack Gilbert died yesterday at the age of 87. Gilbert was the author of five standalone poetry collections—as well as additional collected volumes such as last March’s Collected Poems—and he was also a past winner of a National Book Critics Circle Award. For The LA Times, John Penner reviews the poet’s legacy. Or, perhaps as fitting tribute to Gilbert’s life and work, better to hear his own final lines to the poem “Failing and Flying”: “I believe Icarus was not failing as he fell, / but just coming to the end of his triumph.”
Edwidge Danticat gives us one of the best definitions of the short story in an interview with Kima Jones at The Rumpus. “The short story is like an exquisite painting and you might, when looking at this painting, be wondering what came before or after, but you are fully absorbed in what you’re seeing.” They also discuss Danticat’s novel Claire of the Sea Light, Haitian and Dominican relations, and giving yourself permission to tell the truth. To find out what Danticat has been reading, see her 2013 Year in Reading.
In the Atlantic‘s annual fiction supplement, Joyce Carol Oates writes about the loss of her husband of 48 years and the split identity of the well-known writer: “My job at the university is to impersonate ‘Joyce Carol Oates’ […] this quasi-public self […] is scarcely visible to me, as a mirror-reflection, seen up close, is scarcely visible to the viewer.”
Hack author Dmitry Samarov is this week’s guest blogger at Writers No One Reads (which we’ve mentioned before). In his first post, Samarov takes a look at the work of Willard Motley, who grew up in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood in the early 1900s, and is most well-known for his 1947 bestseller, Knock On Any Door.
“My father’s life intersected with a century of conflict, horror and invention. He deciphered these histories for me, making me his scribe in a new century. My successes were his successes, and his stories thrum in every word I write. He taught me to see like a writer, to be attentive to the stories that spring up everywhere … It’s an attentiveness to the world, to ordinary suffering, to the love that persists in its midst. My sense of the world, of history and humanity flows from this awareness — and the attendant grim humor — my father used as his guiding lamp in the darkness cast by racism and poverty.” Over at The New York Times, Walter Mosley recalls the lessons taught to him by his father, Leroy.