“Mr. Walt Whitman has imagined that a certain amount of violent sympathy with the great deeds and sufferings of our soldiers, and of admiration for our national energy, together with a ready command of picturesque language, are sufficient inspiration for a poet. If this were the case, we had been a nation of poets.” A young Henry James reviews Whitman’s Drum Taps.
Steel your nerve, readers! Kim Liao at The Literary Hub thinks that everyone should shoot for at least 100 rejections per year. At least some of the satisfaction, she argues, lies in knowing that “in the towering waves of slush, be it high tide or low tide, my own modest submission is out there, like a tiny sailboat, bobbing afloat.”
Maya Angelou is a rapper now. The late writer’s poems have been layered with hip-hop beats for a new album, Caged Bird Songs. The album uses previous recordings of Angelou and a few made last year. “She saw (hip-hop) as this generation’s way of speaking and conveying a message,” her grandson Colin A. Johnson said. Pair with: Our tribute to Angelou.
“Elizabeth Hardwick, a formidable feminist in a different key, declared, ‘I don’t know what happened. She got swept too far. She deliberately made herself ugly and wrote those extreme and ridiculous poems.’” On the (difficult) art and activism of Adrienne Rich.
“In addition to fearing, as a young person, that I lacked sophistication, I also feared that I lacked courage. It was hard for me to say something even mildly tough about someone else or their work; hard for me, generally, to be critical. Mary McCarthy had no such trouble.” Meg Wolitzer, author of The Interestings, writes about her literary idol for the LA Times.
Elvis Costello is calling the hefty price tag on his new box set “either a misprint or a satire” and advising fans to buy a Louis Armstrong box set or to wait until the discs included in his own box set are availble at a cheaper price “assuming that you have not already obtained them by more unconventional means.”