"Three weeks before she died on July 25, 2012, Marcia (Marty) Brown Stern ’54 sent me a registered letter, which began, 'What is enclosed may astonish you.' Indeed it did. The envelope included a draft of 'marcia,' an unpublished poem that Sylvia Plath ’55 wrote about their sophomore year together at Smith College in 1951."
"If you read through all the citations, you’ll start to detect certain patterns. Any aspirant Nobel Prize–winner should take note—these may hold the key to victory." The Paris Review has read through all of the Nobel Prize-winner citations and came to a couple of conclusions, such as "you should be great... but it also helps if you’re epic. Oh, and fresh!" Pair their piece with our own overview of newest laureate Patrick Modiano's work, and The New Yorker's look into the translation of Nobel Prize-winning authors.
DeAndre McCullough died last week at the age of 35. McCullough was famously portrayed as the young protagonist in David Simon and Edward Burns’s book The Corner, which went on to become its own HBO miniseries. The Wire later adopted aspects from both the book and the miniseries. The obituary Simon wrote is not to be missed.
As a child, Xiaolu Guo hunted birds and toads to survive. Now, as a writer in Britain, she's written a memoir about her difficult childhood, which you can read more about in this review in The New Statesman. Sample quote: "Perhaps it is no coincidence that the reason that Guo gives for deciding to write in English is to be free of Chinese government censorship, a process that she describes as the wearing down of a rock’s sharp edges to a smooth pebble."
If you're a professor or mentor, it's the time of year you should expect to be hit up for recommendation letters. You can find inspiration in Ralph Waldo Emerson's recommendation letter for Walt Whitman, when the latter was seeking government employment despite his controversial poetry. "He is known to me as a man of strong original genius, combining, with marked eccentricities, great powers & valuable traits of character: a self-relying large-hearted man, much beloved by his friends." Even if the government didn't like Whitman's work, we do; read our own Michael Bourne's essay on the power of Whitman's poetry.