Year in Reading contributor Kevin Smokler’s new essay collection, Practical Classics, explores the benefits of revisiting the first books you read (even if you hated them). In fact, the difficult and excruciating books have a particular value. “Books aren’t all supposed to be our best friends,” says Smokler in a new Rumpus interview. “Sometimes they’re supposed to be that difficult friend who encourages us to do things that we don’t feel are rational or grown-up.”
The University of Iowa’s International Writing House is offering a free 7-week virtual poetry seminar this February. The course will be taught be poet Margaret Ross, and it is open to anyone with an internet connection. Attendance will be capped at 15, however, and the deadline for applications is January 28th. More details can be found here.
The newest issue of Granta features some seriously captivating work, like this poem by Juliana Spahr and this story by Lorna Gibb, among many others. This “Possession” issue pairs well with an essay by our own Lydia Kiesling on possessing one’s own words and the narrative potential of leaked emails.
Over the course of a half-century, Vladimir Nabokov wrote hundreds of letters to his wife Vera, which are being published in book form this week for the first time. Among other things, they reveal the absurd pet names he invented for her (such as Goosykins and Monkeykins) and display Nabokov musing over whether or not to borrow a friend’s castle for the summer. Also worth reading: our own Garth Risk Hallberg on Nabokov’s Ada, or Ardor.
Now this is the kind of fellowship an author can really get behind: The Standard, East Village, has teamed up with The Paris Review to offer a free hotel room to a writer in need of “three weeks of solitude in downtown New York City.” The deadline for applications is November 1. And in case you’re wondering, the answer is yes. Of course the fellowship will conclude with a swank cocktail party.
File under events you won’t want to miss: Kate Zambreno hosts her second Belladonna* Prose Event this Tuesday in New York, featuring three leading ladies of innovative lit. Renee Gladman, Danielle Dutton, and Amina Cain will discuss the walker as essayist, flaneuring through urban space, and skirting the margins of genre. 7:30pm, at Dixon Place.