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.
In last week’s Brandeis commencement speech, Leon Wieseltier argued that never has there been a moment in American life when the humanities were respected less but needed more. “In recent years I have come to regard a commitment to the humanities as nothing less than an act of intellectual defiance, of cultural dissidence,” he said.
“One of the joys of literature is that we can always push back against established ways of speaking and seeing—and nothing has to be blown up.” Mark Z. Danielewski, whose latest novel, the first installment of a 27-book series called The Familiar, has just been released, writes for The Atlantic‘s “By Heart” series about “signiconic” writing, the orneriness of his work and the graphic novel Here. Pair with our 2012 interview with Danielewski.
Every so often, a piece comes along that rends the fragile mind, employing a devil’s portion of mundane details to lay bare the inescapable futility of all human endeavor. This is the only rational way to describe this piece at The Awl, which takes the form of a conversation between Karl Ove Knausgaard and True Detective’s Nic Pizzolatto.
Over at The New York Times, Citizen author Claudia Rankine reviews Teju Cole’s new essay collection. As she puts it, “Cole attempts to untangle the knot of who or what belongs to us and to whom or what do we belong as artists, thinkers and, finally, human beings.” Pair with this Millions interview with Cole.