David Meltzer interviewed renowned Beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti for the Poetry Foundation. At 93 years of age, Ferlinghetti still contends that “the real popular poets of America” are not the people writing verse for poetry collections, but rather the folk musicians and folksingers. “A lot of folksingers’ poems are greater than the printed poems!” Ferlinghetti explains. Evidently the American Academy of Arts and Letters agrees: Bob Dylan recently became the first rock musician ever inducted into its ranks.
Recommended viewing: Tobias Wolff tried to convince Stephen Colbert that The Catcher in the Rye is J.D. Salinger’s best book. “Do we need to be reinforcing our kids’ bad behavior as teenagers with the idea they could be a character in a great novel? Dad, I wasn’t disobeying you, I was exploring modes of alienation,” Colbert joked.
In the June Atlantic, William Deresiewicz revisits that old favorite subject, the past and future of the Great American novel, in a review of two new books about the history of novels: The Dream of the Great American Novel by Laurence Buell and The Novel: A Biography by Michael Schmidt. (Dizzy yet? If not, consider nine other experts’ opinions on the Great American Novel here at The Millions, for a round dozen.)
Enjoying this year’s Year in Reading series? Learn about five easy (even free) ways you can support The Millions this holiday season and make special features like the Year in Reading possible.
The 2014 Guggenheim Fellows were announced this week, and this year’s batch of honorees (PDF) includes ten poets, seven writers of fiction, and ten writers of “general nonfiction.” Among the names on the list, Millions readers will be thrilled to see Year In Reading contributors Hari Kunzru, Julie Orringer, Meaghan O’Rourke, and Susan Orlean, as well as a number of writers who had work mentioned in other peoples’ YIR posts: Adrian Matejka, Patricia Smith, Victoria Redel, and Claire Vaye Watkins.