We all probably had the humiliating experience of reciting a poem in high school. Yet at Salon, Nina Kang believes that memorizing poetry is a lost art. She blames the loss of the discipline on our tendency to skim and new poetry’s seeming aversion to memorization. “Writers actively fight against the appearance of artifice, and often instead strive for an informal, offhand tone, with that hint of clumsiness that lends a certain authenticity to the voice. It turns out this is a quality that makes the reciter’s job that much more difficulty.” Here’s our take on the lost art of recitation.
Jack Gilbert died yesterday at the age of 87. Gilbert was the author of five standalone poetry collections—as well as additional collected volumes such as last March’s Collected Poems—and he was also a past winner of a National Book Critics Circle Award. For The LA Times, John Penner reviews the poet’s legacy. Or, perhaps as fitting tribute to Gilbert’s life and work, better to hear his own final lines to the poem “Failing and Flying”: “I believe Icarus was not failing as he fell, / but just coming to the end of his triumph.”
"I will tell them one of the greatest, perhaps the greatest story of all — the story of good and evil, of strength and weakness, of love and hate, of beauty and ugliness. I shall try to demonstrate to them how these doubles are inseparable — how neither can exist without the other and how out of their groupings creativeness is born." John Steinbeck, American literary titan and author of The Grapes of Wrath, certainly knew a thing or two about creativity.
Legendary jazz musician and composer Cal Massey receded from active performance in the 1950s in order to concentrate on composition. His works went on to be recorded by John Coltrane, Lee Morgan, Freddie Hubbard and many other greats. To honor his indelible mark on jazz music and African-American culture, Fred Ho and Ben Barson will present a series of concerts in Harlem's Red Rooster restaurant. Barson also wrote a lengthy introduction to Massey's life and legacy.
"It’s part of Jane Austen’s genius that she can bring the maximum of drama and momentousness to the most minimal of occasions." Here is David Denby from The New Yorker on reading (and listening to) Austen's Emma, which is celebrating its two-hundredth year in print. We've brought you a bunch of bits on Austen in the past.