“I learned through imitation, but it was only when I followed—or found—my own voice that I was able to derive a different kind of inspiration from reading fiction, something subtler and more expansive. Today, when I reach a wall in my own work, I turn to authors I love to remind myself what is possible: that sentence, that structure, that daring twist of plot.” Chloe Benjamin, who just yesterday published a piece on choosing book titles for The Millions, writes about the dangers and rewards of reading while writing for Poets and Writers’ Recommends series.
“Remember how I said there’s a certain kind of conservatism which I respect more than bourgeois liberalism—T. S. Eliot is of this type.” President Obama wrote these words as a twenty-two-year-old student, but Edward Mendelson argues that Obama’s words as a literary critic reveal his tendencies as a politician. Check out our own Michael Bourne’s review of Barack Obama: The Story by David Maraniss, where Obama’s letter was originally published.
Whitney Houston, Adele, Kanye West, Prince, and Justin Bieber all share something in common when it comes to the songs they sing. Each one of them rhymes “do” and “you” more often than any other pair of words. In fact, according to Ben Blatt, that duo is the most commonly rhymed pair in the history of pop music.
In an interview with Vice, Joy Williams explains that writing gives her “no happiness”. Pair with an interview with our own Hannah Gersen, who “would have stopped [writing] a long time ago” if she didn’t love it. You could also read Nick Ripatrazone’s recent article on fifty reasons to read Williams.
This essay by Mensah Demary for Electric Literature on Nas and the literary legitimacy of hip-hop is the best thing you’ll read this morning. “Nas is a world-class storyteller and practitioner of the narrative form,” Demary writes, “I don’t understand why there isn’t more discussion around hip-hop’s literary value among today’s millennial-and-boomer intelligentsia.”