“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.
Online used book marketplace AbeBooks has released its list of the top ten most expensive sales on the site in 2010. A rare and very old Arabic manuscript is in the top slot. Herman Melville also makes a couple of appearances.
Recommended reading: The Awl takes a look at the "attempt to create a completely logical, absolutely universal language," which goes about as well as you'd expect (read: not very).
In a long investigation of Hunter S. Thompson’s classic essay, “The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved” (PDF), Josh Roiland takes readers to church by pointing out exactly what’s so alluring about the piece, which “scholars often point to … as the origin of Gonzo Journalism.”
Just in time for Labor Day, the folks at Open Road Media have assembled their annual video of writers talking about the day jobs they’ve left behind. Did you know James Salter sold swimming pools? Or that Edna O’Brien used to weigh babies in a chemist’s shop? This year’s installment can be found here; last year’s over here.