Try to define the word “poetry” and you’ll quickly find yourself in a maze of contradictions. It refers, most obviously, to printed verse, but it can also refer to especially lyrical prose, among other things. At The Paris Review Daily, Damian Searls uses etymology to get some answers. Related: Kate Angus on loving poetry but not poetry books.
What if a treasure hunt in a book crossed over into the real world? Author Kit Williams buried a prize and left clues to its location in his novel, Masquerade. The search drove England crazy. Our own Hannah Gersen maps the imaginary in her essay about how authors organize their manuscripts.
Out this week: Bed-Stuy Is Burning by Brian Platzer; Gork, the Teenage Dragon by Gabe Hudson; Goodbye, Vitamin by Rachel Khong; A Life of Adventure and Delight by Akhil Sharma; Knots by Gunnhild Øyehaug; Pages for Her by Sylvia Brownrigg; and Moving Kings by Joshua Cohen. For more on these and other new titles, go read our just-published book preview.
Lord Byron is perhaps our most prominent example of an extravagant writer in a bygone age. There’s a reason his antics earned him a popular adjective. However, he’s not the only writer from long ago to live large, as made clear in this New Yorker piece by Elizabeth Kolbert -- inspired by the release of two new biographies -- that deals with the up-and-down life and reputation of Seneca. Sample quote: “Seneca’s fortune made possible a life style that was lavish by Roman or, for that matter, Hollywood standards.”
For Guernica, Tana Wojcznick explores the belief in populism in Shakespeare’s often-misread play Coriolanus. She writes, “Coriolanus criticizes the people he claims to want to represent not simply because they are a mob, but because as a single body they are too easily swayed in their opinion, too easily flattered.” Pair with this Millions essay on rewriting Shakespeare.