Iowa City, which is one of six UNESCO Cities of Literature, will honor renowned Ghanaian poet Kofi Awoonor with a memorial reading this Monday, October 14. Awoonor was among those killed in the attack on Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya. The reading, which will be hosted by Awoonor’s nephew, Kwame Dawes, will take place on the University of Iowa campus, but it will also be open to anybody with an internet connection. People are invited to tune in to the event’s streaming webcast, and also to submit questions for Dawes online to the @UIIWP Twitter account by utilizing the #Awoonor hashtag.
This week poet Mark Baumer was struck and killed by an SUV while walking barefoot across the country. Baumer, 33, began his cross-country walk to raise awareness about climate change, and was documenting the journey on his blog (as well as Instagram and YouTube). Florida, where he was killed, was recently ranked “the most dangerous place for pedestrians” in the United States.
At The NYT Mag, Virginia Heffernan‘s “Drill, Baby, Drill” explores the possibility that drills and memorization might not be quite as oppressive as some of the kinder, gentler pedagogues of our time suggest and offers a list of aps to help aspiring rote learners (Nota Bene: VerseByHeart).
Anna Sun profiles the work of Mo Yan, the latest winner of the Nobel Prize for literature. While Sun acknowledges Yan’s popularity and prolific output, she also notes that what the Nobel committee referred to as “hallucinatory prose” is more often than not “repetitive, predictable, coarse, and mostly devoid of aesthetic value.” Indeed, Sun writes, “the English translations of Mo Yan’s novels … are in fact superior to the original.” [Ed. Note: It appears the Kenyon Review link was briefly not working; this Google cache may work better — h/t Dan Farrely]