“These were not like other poems: within their consistent 16-line armature they were turbulent, mad, feverish, cryptic, an unruly union of boppy jive-talk, and thorny quasi-Elizabethan diction. It was impossible to tell who was speaking, or to whom; poems ended in mid-syllable, bristled with random phrases in foreign languages, sported menacing-looking accent marks and Shakespearean contractions, were riddled with ampersands and ellipses.” At The Rumpus, a memory of falling in love with The Dream Songs (which happens to nicely complement a piece we published back in April).
On the topic of reading classics: Alberto Manguel at the New York Review of Books considers the dialogue across history that books afford. “The relationship between a reader and a book… eliminates the barriers of time and space, like ‘conversations with the dead.'”
Over at Catapult, Lynn Steger Strong writes on writing a novel that readers will read. As she puts it, “I was trying to explore the specific experience of living in the world while also living largely, sometimes to one’s own detriment, inside of books, inside one’s head.” Also check out this Millions piece, featuring six writers looking back on their first novels.
“By the time Mr. Bass bought the building for $8.2 million in 1997, the Strand had become the largest used-book store in the world.” Fred Bass, the owner of the Strand, has died at the age of 89. Bass — who bought used books with panicked fervor, opened up satellite kiosks, and created the fabled literary quiz for prospective employees — turned his father’s used bookstores into a New York City literary landmark.