A professor at Clemson University believes he’s identified the fugitive slave who was harbored for one night in the home of Harriet Beecher Stowe. Moreover, the professor believes that the man was “an inspiration for the novel [Uncle Tom’s Cabin]. I think his pain touched [Stowe] and helped her to act.”
Here's a look at the top-ten most read articles from Electric Literature of 2015, most of which we've already told you about and all of which is worth a revisit. Bonus: here's a Best of Brain Pickings, as well.
"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.
VQR has published an essay by Chris Fischbach of Coffee House Press that provides an overview of some of the innovative small presses at work today. Fischbach specifically mentions Tin House, Melville House and Two Dollar Radio as "nimble" publishing houses that "can try things big publishers might not find worthwhile or consistent with the aims of a traditional publishing program," such as producing micro-budget films or illustrated versions of classic works of literature.
"Insanity, madness, obsession, math, objectivity, truth, science and art. These friends always impress me. They’re sculptors and tailors, not scientists or spies. I’ve chosen them with the peculiar attentiveness of a shell collector stupidly combining the overwhelming multitude of broken detritus to hold up one shell so beautiful that it finds its way into my pocket, lining my clothes with sand. And then another. Not too many, so that the sheer number could never diminish the value of one." On madness and genius with cosmologist Janna Levin.
America's oldest LGBT bookstore, Giovanni's Room, is closing on May 17. The Philadelphia staple is shutting its doors after four decades due to the owner's retirement and financial problems. At Salon, Steve Berman remembers the store and discusses how its closure will affect the publishing and LGBT community. "So LGBT books are forced to the edges, to the shadows, despite claims of assimilation. Gay authors have to do more and more marketing to find readers. Gay publishers have to struggle with shrinking venues to showcase their titles."
“The last thing your creative brain needs is a klaxon shouting WRONG while you’re in the middle of a creative thought. Eventually, as you use Neo, you’ll stop thinking about spelling and typos. This will push your creativity to the next level. You can always step through a spell check any time you like. But not while you’re writing.” Hugh Howey, author of the Wool series, proposes a new word processor called Neo.“I’m currently talking with programmers and consultants on how to get this done,” he writes on his blog, describing the application's potential features. “Might be a decade before anything comes to light, so don’t hold your breath. But I’m willing to invest the time and money to make this a reality.” Pair with programmer Philip Hopkins's meditation on code and writing.