James Baldwin couldn’t be more relevant, but he is fading from America’s high school classrooms. His controversial writing, censorship, poor student reading habits, and absence from the Common Core are all to blame for the lack of Baldwin in the curriculum. Pair with: Our essay on why Baldwin’s work still resonates.
Nowadays, Lord of the Flies is a byword for savagery, a book that illustrates more potently than any other just how low it’s possible for humanity to sink. In The Guardian, Robert McCrum ties the book’s conception to the second World War, arguing that its view of the world was “unimaginable” without Nazi Europe.
“All poems of public grief are private poems first,” writes Mark Doty in his evaluation of Wisława Szymborska’s poem, “Photograph from September 11th.” Indeed, what Doty learned “over the course of those dozen years, was that the words one hammers out in private, in order to attempt some kind of sense, may end up being used by people in ways you could have never anticipated.”
If you thought the English language went downhill when the emoticon was introduced, you can blame a 17th-century poet. Editor Levi Stahl found that English poet Robert Herrick used the first emoticon in his 1648 poem “To Fortune.” As Herrick writes, “Tumble me down, and I will sit/ Upon my ruines (smiling yet :)” For more on the potential ruin of language, read Fiona Maazel’s piece on commercial grammar.
The annual Edinburgh World Writers’ Conference wrapped up earlier this week, but, thanks to the wonders of the internet, you can relive the magic: Transcripts and videos of notable speeches are available on the conference’s website, including the concluding talk on the future of the novel by China Mieville.
Back in 2011, our founder C. Max Magee pointed to the fan art of Chris Ayers, who was inspired by DFW’s Infinite Jest. Now, Ayers has a new series, drawn from Margaret Atwood’s MaddAdam trilogy, that illustrates the corporate horrors of the trilogy’s fictional dystopia. Pair with Vanessa Blakeslee on Atwood’s In Other Worlds.
“Where is the black version of Caddie Woodlawn (a 19th-century Wisconsin tomboy) or Harriet the Spy (a 20th-century Upper East Sider), smart, spunky, fictional heroines for the tween crowd?” Victoria Bond and T.R. Simon fictionalize beloved Harlem Renaissance writer Zora Neale Hurston as a girl detective in Zora and Me.