A new MOOC from the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program is scheduled to begin on June 28. “How Writers Write Poetry” is free and open to the public, and it will feature craft talks from poets such as Robert Hass and Kwame Dawes. A fiction-writing course is also scheduled for September. (Related: Read how several Iowa MFA students describe a typical day in the program.)
Nowadays, Huck Finn is as a lightning rod for racial issues, which explains why so many schools have banned the book over the years. But in the late 18th century, when Mark Twain published it, the novel was more controversial as a critique of childhood in America. In the Times, Year in Reading alum Parul Sehgal reads Huck Finn’s America, a new book by Andrew Levy that sheds light on the context of the era. You could also read our founder C. Max Magee on reading Huck Finn as a child.
If your characters go on a road trip, do you have to take one, too? When Mary Miller wrote The Last Days of California about a family driving from Alabama to California to meet the rapture, she hadn't even been to the desert herself. To ensure it was accurate, though, she mapped important destinations on the route. "For Western Louisiana, I thought, 'Is there actually a Waffle House within forty miles of this border?' because I wanted it to be accurate. So I had maps, and I was tracking mileage," she told Down & Out.
The new film by master indie director John Sayles, Amigo, will premiere in New York on August 10th as the opening night presentation of the Asian American International Film Festival. Tickets just went on sale here; Sayles will be appearing in-person for a Q&A. "Amigo" is Sayles's 17th feature film and a kind of historical companion piece to his recently released epic novel, A Moment in the Sun, published by McSweeney's.
"Our literary culture has distended and warped by focusing so much power in a singular place, by crowding the gatekeepers into a small ditch of commerce. A review in the Times trumps everything else. You can’t tell me that this doesn’t affect what is, finally, bound into books, marketed, and sold. Which designates what can be said and how one says it. Why do we cede American letters to a handful of corporations that exist on a single concrete patch?" This piece by Matthew Neill Null at The Literary Hub raises a lot of extremely important questions about what gets published and why.