Last week, I pointed readers to a Page-Turner essay by Amy Bloom, whose new novel, Lucky Us, came out on Tuesday. Now, as part of the By the Book series in the Times, she talks about her summertime reads, her first picture book and who she’d invite to a literary dinner party. (FYI, we’ve written about the series before.)
"Good political poems, outlive the events that shape them... they lead strange lives." One such poem, written after a pogrom 100 years ago, has since been translated by Palestinian resistance leaders, and more recently claimed as "Israeli" by PM Netanyahu. Some of the most notable works of the genre have been collected by Poetry. New projects in political poetry I'm excited about: online journal Matter Monthly, and Rattle's Sunday column for a political poem addressing events of that week.
New York Magazine has an excerpt up from Zora Neale Hurston's long-lost manuscript, Barracoon: The Story of the Last Black Cargo, the first-person account of Cudjo Lewis, the only living survivor of the final slave ship to land in America. Barracoon will finally, 87 years later, be published next week.
"Thinking about her life is like sifting ashes. You believe you see the clear outline of a message, but it inevitably disintegrates before you can be sure of its sense. The mantle of a 'rediscovered writer' has never settled firmly around [her] shoulders; she has a way of resisting the platitudes of remembering." Michelle Dean on the writer Nella Larsen.
One in ten residents of Iceland will publish something in their lifetime. (Compare that to the United States.) And all residents receive the bókatíðindi – a volume listing approximately 90% of all books being published in Iceland – free of charge. Indeed, as Mark Medley notes, when it comes to literary ambitions, the Land of Fire and Ice is “punching above its weight class.”
Friends, former students and admirers are rallying around poet Dean Young. Young, who has taught at the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop and a number of other MFA programs, is in need of a heart transplant, and fellow poet Tony Hoagland has put out a call for help. (Thanks Arna)
We’ve covered the Atlantic series By Heart a number of times before. It features notable authors writing about their favorite passages. In the latest edition, Mary-Beth Hughes picks out a paragraph from Penelope Fitzgerald’s The Blue Flower, about a poet who’s trying to cope with grief. Sample quote: “Reading Fitzgerald, I felt it was possible to write as I’d experienced dancing.”