Thanks to NASA, three poets will have a chance to boldly go where no poets have gone before: Mars. Indeed, an online contest is currently open in which users can submit haiku to accompany the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) mission, which is scheduled for launch in late 2013. The MAVEN project will be the first mission devoted to understanding the Martian upper atmosphere. More details about sending poetry into outer space can be found here.
A big week for books: Zadie Smith’s NW is out (read the first lines), as is Christopher Hitchens’s Mortality, a collection of essays penned while he fought cancer (our essay on Hitchens’ death) (his collection Arguably is out in paperback today). More new books: Emma Straub’s Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures, Umberto Eco’s essay collection Inventing the Enemy, Davy Rothbart’s essay collection My Heart Is an Idiot, Frederick Seidel’s poetry collection Nice Weather, documentarian Errol Morris’s A Wilderness of Error: The Trials of Jeffrey MacDonald, and the Navy Seal book about the bin Laden mission. Also, The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides is now out in paperback (read Eugenides on the book’s genesis), as is Stephen Greenblatt’s Pulitzer winner The Swerve.
“Make no mistake: if you run a prize, a “best of” list, a residency, with age guidelines you can’t fully justify then, however otherwise diverse your awardees, you and your organisation are consolidating racism, sexism, class and gender discrimination.” Joanna Walsh for The Guardian arguing that, by focusing on youth, literary awards and honors tend to reward “those most likely to have money, security, contacts, confidence.” See also our Post-40 Bloomers series, including interviews most recently with Lidia Yuknavitch and Cole Lavalais.