Recommended Reading/Listening: Maia Evrona’s translation and recitation of a poem by Abraham Sutzkever, who has been called one of the primary poets of the Holocaust. Gabriel Brownstein’s essay for The Millions on what it means to be a “Jewish writer” is a good complementary piece.
Writing Workshops LA – which was founded by our own Edan Lepucki – is hosting “The Conference” on June 28 of this year, and the day-long event will consist of “educational and thoughtful panel discussions as well as smaller, in-depth presentations and workshops aimed at informing and inspiring every attendee.” Presenters will include award-winning literary agents, editors, and writers including Joanna Rakoff, Adam Wilson, David L. Ulin, Counterpoint’s Dan Smetanka, and Daniel Gumbiner of McSweeney’s. Don’t miss your chance to sign up for the early bird special before April 15th – the first 40 attendees will also get an invitation to a literary pub quiz event the night before.
The book cover is in decline, Tim Kreider writes. “It seems as if sixty-five per cent of all novels’ jackets feature an item of female apparel and/or part of the female anatomy and the name of some foodstuff in the title—the book-cover equivalent of the generic tough-guy-with-gun movie poster with title like ‘2 HARD & 2 FAST.'” We judge books by their covers, too.
“I write, always thinking about the generations of black women who came before me, who faced racism and sexism head-on, and in spite of it all, did their work. They encourage me not to despair.” For Vogue, author Brit Bennett writes about 2017, racism, Trump, and the forward progression of time. Pair with: staff writer Ismail Muhammad‘s interview with Bennett.
Planning on writing a prison scene? Worried your characters might sound a bit unrealistic? Then see if you can get your hands on the Bonne Terre dictionary. Written by inmates at a prison in Louisiana, the dictionary includes such idiosyncratic terms as “boat,” meaning a plastic bed, and “pumpkin,” meaning a new inmate.
“I began to wonder: what would a manifesto for bad poetry look like? Would it differ either superficially or deeply from the art’s graver manifestos? It really wouldn’t have to. It would merely have to persuade, and persuasion sounds very much the same whether it is honest or dishonest. If it was any good it would hold great attractiveness as a snappy piece of writing, but, if followed, it would be certain to produce bad poetry. Some harmless sophistry. In this it would be more effective than any positive manifesto, because, if guided well, no-one who sets out to write a bad poem is going to accidentally write an excellent one.” Erik Kennedy lays out a manifesto for bad poetry, titled “Precepts for Perfection in Poetry,” for The Rumpus. For a counterpoint, pair with our own Nick Ripatrazone‘s look at very good and very sad poetry, “The Saddest Poem Ever Written.”