The semester is officially in full swing, and sallying forth in the spirit of yesterday’s teaching theme, here is another list of rules for teachers–this time in the style of John Cage–from Anne Boyer over at The New Inquiry.
“It’s really strange to have the success of a poem be so directly tied to people processing grief. It’s a strange thing, because it’s a blessing and a curse.” The Rumpus interviews poet Maggie Smith about her new collection, Good Bones, her viral poem that shares its name, and her craft. From our archives: Smith’s collection was featured in our round-up of October’s Must-Read Poetry.
Is this image of John McEnroe a great visual complement to John McWhorter’s review of Ascent of the A-Word: Assholism, the First Sixty Years, or is it the greatest visual complement to John McWhorter’s review of Ascent of the A-Word: Assholism, the First Sixty Years?
Starting today and lasting until the end of the summer, The New Yorker is completely free online, including archives back to 2007. What to read? To start off, try searching the fiction page for, say, George Saunders. There’s that famous Lawrence Wright piece on Scientology. Or feel free to consult the magazine’s own roundup. But I happen to be most impressed by this grandaddy of all longform articles on six survivors of Hiroshima (subscription required).
In memory of Peter Matthiessen, The Missouri Review has unlocked an interview with him from 1989. Matthiessen detailed the beginning of his writing career. “I started my first novel and sent off about four chapters and waited by the post office for praise to roll in, calls from Hollywood, everything. Finally my agent sent me a letter that said ‘Dear Peter, James Fenimore Cooper wrote this a hundred and fifty years ago, only he wrote it better. Yours, Bernice.’ I probably needed that; it was very healthy.” For more Matthiessen, you can read one of his best travel essays or his new novel, In Paradise.
Several years ago, Jeff Sharlet closely investigated The Fellowship – a “self-described invisible network dedicated to a religion of power for the powerful” – in order to write a book about “how fundamentalism came to be interwoven with American power.” Now, Sharlet has followed up his initial report with an article about Westmont College, a “feeder school” for the religious movement. This is highly recommended reading for anybody interested in the intersections of power, influence, religious fundamentalism, and American politics.