Kaveh Akbar interviews poet Wendy Xu about oppressive syntax, imaginary realms, and poems as ecosystems. As she puts it, “Poetry validates the emotional realness of the imaginary.” Pair with Andrew Kay’s Millions essay on the power of poetry.
Eliza Griswold’s deeply affecting profile of the female poets in Afghanistan ran last April in the New York Times Magazine, and it’s certainly worth a read if you missed it back then. For those who read it and wanted more, though, definitely check out the Pulitzer Center’s multimedia package on all of Griswold and photographer Seamus Murphy’s work, Afghanistan: On Love and Suicide.
Julie Delphy's second film as writer/director/actress is released in Europe this month. The subject is 16th century Hungarian/Transylvanian countess Erzsébet Bàthory, known for murdering young girls to bathe in their blood and considered by some the first female serial killer. Judging from the trailer, Delphy's film doesn't appear to equal earlier visions of the Bloody Countess (French Surrealist Valentine Penrose's hallucinatory biography, for example, or Terry Gilliam's Mirror Queen (Monica Bellucci) in The Brothers Grimm).
Sam Tanenhaus asks, What do this season’s political books tell us about the election? As he puts it, “Election-year analyses always seem to arrive too late or too soon. They are useful nonetheless. The mistakes and misapprehensions — what the authors thought they knew — mirror the broader thinking of their moment.” Pair with this Millions essay on politics and excessive language.