Recommended Reading: Amy Poehler’s New Yorker essay, “Take Your Licks,” on her summer job at an ice cream parlor. “If the style of the restaurant was old-fashioned, the parenting that went on there was distinctly modern. Moms and dads would patiently recite every item on the menu to their squirming five-year-olds, as if the many flavors of ice cream represented all the unique ways they were loved.” If this essay is any indication, her upcoming memoir is going to be great.
“Yes, he cheated, he cracked up, he was irresponsible and even cruel in the way he marshaled his life for his art. Lowell nonetheless believed that women were his intellectual and artistic equals. He spent most of his life behaving accordingly even as he treated his wives and mistresses so terribly, in romantic terms, that it was almost operatic. That is the puzzle of Robert Lowell and women.” It’s not quite Valentine’s Day yet, but this piece on the inarguably tumultuous relationship between Robert Lowell and Elizabeth Hardwick is sure to make you feel something.
At The Washington Post, Michael Dirda on the dissolute genius Thomas De Quincey (opium addict, original chronicler of addiction, master of the macabre, prolific C19th essayist).
In the latest entry in By Heart, the Atlantic series we’ve written about a few times, Ben Marcus (who recently came out with a new book) reflects on the true meaning of the word “Kafkaesque.” Marcus interprets Kafka’s “A Message from the Emperor” as a parable about the difficulty of real human connection. (Related: there’s now a Kafka video game.)
B|ta’arof – which launched last year – announced a new poetry series featuring translations of “contemporary poems written in Persian and translated into English by emerging poets and scholars in the Iranian diaspora.” The translations will be accompanied by brief interviews with the translators, each consisting of the same five questions. “The idea,” according to the mission statement, “is to pull back the curtain on the process of translation, revealing how it is subject to individual choices and proclivities—the first choice being what poem to even translate.”