“If Gwendolyn Brooks wrote fiction, we’d say she was brilliant at world-building–but the world she builds is the real one, the part that didn’t used to make it into the pages of literary magazines.” On the continued relevance of Brooks’s poetry in the context of racial violence in Chicago. Pair with a piece on the power of reading poetry aloud.
“He sat on a shelf of our one-roomed apartment for a while, and then one day when I was sitting in front of my typewriter staring at a blank sheet of paper wondering what to write, I idly tapped out the words ‘Mr. and Mrs. Brown first met Paddington on a railway platform. In fact, that was how he came to have such an unusual name for a bear, for Paddington was the name of the station.’ It was a simple act, and in terms of deathless prose, not exactly earth shattering, but it was to change my life considerably. … Without intending it, I had become a children’s author.” Michael Bond, creator of the Paddington Bear series, has died at 91, reports NPR. We’d like to think that Bond might have appreciated our own Jacob Lambert‘s series, “Are Picture Books Leading Children Astray?” – in particular this entry questioning the moral fiber of We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.
“I have wasted my life.” Over at the Paris Review, Dan Piepenbring takes a look at James Wright‘s “Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy’s Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota” and the many interpretations readers have brought to its famous last line. Among those readers is David Mitchell, who wrote about the same poem in an essay for The Atlantic‘s By Heart series earlier this year.
Writers of facial stage direction, beware: it is not actually the epitome of irony that smiling and crying can seem so oddly similar. At Aeon, Princeton professor Michael Graziono argues that the seemingly opposite gestures may just share evolutionary origins. (Pair with: Darwinist theories about “the evolution of the novel.”)
You might think that recording an audiobook would be an easy task for Ice-T. Not so, or at least not always: the rapper and Law & Order star says an upcoming book in the Dungeons and Dragons universe tripped him up with its heavy use of fantasy slang. (h/t The Paris Review)
The finalists for the 2016 Hugo Awards were announced a few days ago, and it looks like the reactionaries may have struck another blow. A group which calls itself “The Sad Puppies” has been stirring up political controversy at the Hugos for a few years now. Founded in 2013 by writer Larry Correia, who was highly critical of the Hugos for favoring what he believed were “academic” works that allegedly promote “left-leaning messages,” the Puppies have since campaigned vigorously to have writers whose ideologies line up with their own make the final ballot.