Does literature belong on the streets? Thanks to some forward-thinking initiatives like the Coffee Sleeves Conversation at Coffee House Press and the Chicago-based project “Poem While You Wait,” (in which poets stationed around the city produce original, on-demand poems for five dollars a piece) literature is finding its way to the masses.
Harper Lee may have died earlier this year, but the drama surrounding her final years rages on. Last week, a stage adaptation of Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird was performed in her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama, as it has for many years. This time, however, things got a bit contentious. Here’s a dispatch from Monroeville by Robert Rea for The Millions.
“Among their other contributions to American life are words that some of the Beats marshaled on behalf of wild places. Kerouac, inspired by Snyder’s rapture about a summer spent in the clouds, followed him as a lookout to an area that eventually became North Cascades National Park in Washington State.” Over at The New York Times, Timothy Egan takes a look at poetry’s long, linked history with our national parks.
“The literature by Vietnamese and Vietnamese-Americans is out there for anyone who knows how to use Google. But so many here and abroad would rather not know, or when a new Vietnamese author is published, would prefer to say, ‘At last! A voice for the Vietnamese!’ In fact, there are so many voices, for the Vietnamese people are very loud.” Pulitzer Prize winner and Year in Reading alumnus Viet Thanh Nguyen (The Sympathizer) writes in The New York Times about the diversity of Vietnamese writing, too often ignored in favor of war narratives and the voices of American veterans. (For an incredible syllabus of books to fill in the gaps, see the middle of his piece.)
Bygone Bureau editor Jonathan Gourlay spent eleven years living on the microscopic island of Pohnpei, and fortunately for us he kept his wits about him long enough to churn out a “funny, haunting travel memoir” entitled Nowhere Slow. You can check out an excerpt from the eBook over here.