“If [Langston] Hughes and Cullen were competitors, of sorts, for the prize of principal African American poet of their generation, Cullen may have had an early lead, and during the later 1920s and early 1930s they were often discussed in tandem.” At The Boston Review, Major Jackson takes a look at the career and legacy of Harlem Renaissance poet Countee Cullen.
Haruki Murakami’s love for jazz is no secret – he used to own a jazz bar, he’s written full essay collections on the music, and his books are peppered with references to jazz songs and musicians. How fitting, then, that there’s finally a playlist of jazz songs mentioned in Murakami’s writings. Pair with our many past essays on Murakami.
“On closer inspection, however, the book comes off as something more complicated than a flowering of one eccentric and filthy man’s erotic imagination. Its elaborate descriptions of pleasure given and taken start to seem like scrims for a moral argument about what sorts of sexual behaviors should be ‘forbid’ and which should be encouraged—an argument refined in prison by an author deeply occupied with thoughts of punishment, dissipation, and sin.” On John Cleland’s (very erotic) novel Fanny Hill and the importance of its having been written in prison.
J.L. Galache wanted to honor the recently deceased Iain Banks in a way befitting the man’s memory. So of course he named an asteroid after the author. With the help of Dr. Gareth Williams of the Minor Planet Center, Galache successfully lobbied the Committee for Small Body Nomencalture of the International Astronomical Union for Asteroid 5099 to be officially dubbed Iainbanks. (Bonus: John McIntyre honors Banks’s memory by reading through some of his best work.)
“But poems are not poems if they make people feel dead. I want people to feel alive – even if it is alive with grief.” The Guardian profiles poet Danez Smith about poetry; race, gender, and queerness; and their poetry collection, Don’t Call Us Dead (a finalist for the National Book Award). Pair with: an essay on writing that gives shape and depth to victims of criminal injustice.