“To fully understand poetry, familiarize yourself with the elements of a poem, such as meter, which is 3.28 feet.” Katie Burgess teaches us how to properly read a poem for The Rumpus’ Funny Women column.
“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.
“I don’t think writing the truth makes you strong by default. I think it makes you vulnerable, which in turn can make you strong.” Amy Jo Burns writes for Ploughshares about the difficulties of “Writing About Other People” and the upcoming publication of her debut memoir, Cinderland.
“We started with just the two of us, and now it’s the largest reading community in the world.” Publishers Weekly interviewed Goodreads founders Otis Chandler and Elizabeth Khuri Chandler about the site they founded 10 years ago, which now boasts 65 million members. Check out our own Edan Lepucki on Goodreads’ humble beginnings.
“I wanted to be really careful about not pretending to write The Transracial Adoptee’s Experience, because (1) there is no such thing, it’s going to be different for everyone, and (2) I feel strongly that those stories should be told by the adoptees themselves, if they choose to share them,” Year in Reading alum Celeste Ng, author of Little Fires Everywhere, in conversation with Nicole Chung.
Serious reading is harder than ever. With so many distractions around, it’s incredibly difficult for a novel to keep our attention. In The Nation, Joanna Scott makes a case that careful reading is in danger, and builds a case for preserving difficult fiction. You could also read our own Nick Ripatrazone on trying to teach Thomas Pynchon.
Those of you with some knowledge of Pale Fire and Lolita won’t be surprised to learn what Nabokov thought of dinner parties. Namely, he thought they were awful, vaguely surreal events, held largely by drunkards with overriding appetites for drama. At The Paris Review Daily, Sadie Stein quotes a passage from “The Vane Sisters” to explain why “It’s hard to think of someone you’d want less at a midcentury faculty tea, save maybe a seething Shirley Jackson.” You could also read our own Garth Risk Hallberg on Nabokov’s Ada, or Ardor.