“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.
In her new book The Sixth Extinction, New Yorker staff writer Elizabeth Kolbert makes the case that we’re living in the sixth massive die-off of species in our planet’s history. Corraling evidence from zoologists, environmentalists and more, Kolbert argues that human activity is the cause of this latest event. In a review over at Vulture, Kathryn Schulz writes that Kolbert “makes a page-turner out of even the most sober and scientifically demanding aspects of extinction.”
One of the struggles of being a writer is that everyone else is trying to turn your life into a story. Rebecca Makkai comments on well-intentioned friends who suggest story ideas at Ploughshares. Read a piece of her story (or screenplay) below:
“WRITER: So I was like, ‘Excuse me, are you with the Secret Service?’ and she’s like—
NEIGHBOR’S BOYFRIEND: Wait, wait, have you written this down? Aren’t you a writer? This would make a great story!”
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A couple weeks ago, we published our review of Ben Lerner’s 10:04, the follow-up to his debut Leaving the Atocha Station. At the Poetry Foundation’s blog, Adam Plunkett argues that 10:04 inadvertently reveals its author’s poetic training. The book, he says, “dissolves into a poem.”