“I’ve always been interested in the internal shape-changes of the poem. In my student days, it was common to assume that the poem makes a statement — that it’s protesting war, or is grieving a death. My teachers, on the whole, didn’t see a poem as an evolving thing that might be saying something completely new at the end because it had changed its mind from whatever it had proposed at the beginning.” An interview with Harvard’s Helen Vendler about the structure of poetry, the benefits of studying science and mathematics, and the “miraculous” voices of Shakespeare and Keats.
Here’s a treat for all you literary legal buffs. A judge in the Middle District of Florida denied a request for a continuance in a murder-for-hire trial. But wait, it gets better. The defense attorney, Frank Louderback, is a perennial contestant in Hemingway Look-alike Society’s annual Ernest Hemingway Look-alike Contest, held in Key West each year, and the purpose of Louderback’s continuance was so he could travel to the Conch Republic for the competition. The judge denied the order by citing Big Papa himself. (via Nate Harris)
In this week’s New York Times Magazine, a collaboration with ProPublica has produced a 13,000-word (!) article on what happened at New Orleans Memorial Medial Center where a number of patients died in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Who says long-form journalism is dead!
It’s rare that a writer decides his new novel will be his last, but that’s exactly what Michael Faber has done with regards to his latest, which comes out this week. In the Times, he talks with Alexandra Alter about his decision, saying: “I felt that I had one more book in me that could be special and sincere and extraordinary, and that that would be enough.” It’s probably a good time to read our own Bill Morris on the history of literary retirements.