Is Kenneth Goldsmith continuing to lead the charge in a revolutionary poetry movement? Has he overstepped his bounds? Is conceptual poetry dead? Alec Wilkinson for The New Yorker and Cathy Park Hong for The New Republic offer their opinions.
Momina Mela writes on the gendered misconceptions about confessional poetry. As she puts it, “In comparison to female confessional poets, male confessional poetry has been regarded with less ridicule as accusations of being merely therapeutic. This is often due to the detachment which occurs with the adoption of personas, even though female poets such as Anne Sexton, Sylvia Plath and even Sharon Olds integrate the use of personas in their work as well.” Also check out this Millions essay on the poetry of mental unhealth.
“How can we represent four hundred years of American literary history in a way that doesn’t reinforce the unfortunate hierarchies of those four hundred years?” Year in Reading alum Rebecca Makkai writes for Electric Literature about the opening of the new American Writers Museum in Chicago and what it means to curate an historical canon of letters. See also: our interview with Makkai from a couple of years back.
New this week is Carlos Fuentes’ vampire tale set in Mexico City, Vlad. Also out are The Collective by Don Lee, Tigers in Red Weather by Liza Klaussmann, Shine Shine Shine by Lydia Netzer, and Evel Knievel Days by Pauls Toutonghi, who last year introduced us to six Egyptian writers as the world watched the Egyptian revolution.
“The real world is massive and chaotic beyond the scope of any story, but the novel has always been the storytelling medium that could come closest to capturing it. And the novels that dared to really try – from Hugo to Tolstoy – are often the ones that have endured.” That’s not to say, of course, that bigger is always better, and in an article for The Guardian Damien Walter argues against the current glut of epic, serialized fantasy novels taking their cues from George R.R. Martin‘s A Song of Ice and Fire. As Walter puts it, “There are great fantasy short stories, novellas and single novels that deserve much wider audiences, but are sidelined by the industry’s unhealthy fixation with the serial format. It’s time for the fantasy genre to tell some new – shorter – stories.”
It can be hard for critics to strike a balance between high theory and accessible prose. For James Wood, the key is to retain enough theoretical knowledge to come up with an insightful point, while still retaining the ability to write in a natural dialect. In The Guardian, he talks about his own relationship with books.