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.
Literary Twitter has been on fire with #ManlyBookClubNames since The New York Times style section reported that apparently men have book clubs, too. “Perhaps because participation in reading groups is perceived as a female activity, some all-male book clubs have an outsize need to proclaim the endeavor’s masculinity.” If you’re looking for a book club, consider joining Adam Boretz’s Football Book Club.
“The label ‘Immigrant Fiction’ derives from the same problematic Pantheon in which ‘Women’s Literature,’ ‘Black Literature,’ and more, exist. Unlike the genre of, say, science fiction, which describes the content and style of the writing, categories like ‘immigrant’ or ‘Black’ fiction seem to be concerned more with the author’s identity and/or perceived audience.” On literary categories and immigrant fiction, over at Guernica.
“She gathered books to display for attendees and discovered that inside the cover of one, ‘The Koran for Dummies,’ someone had written “lies cover to cover,” drawn a swastika and made a disparaging remark about the Prophet Muhammad.” The president of the American Library Association reports “startling increases” in 2016 of vandalism, including hateful messages, at libraries. The Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom has begun formally tracking such incidents to determine whether the increase is “a blip or a trend.”
In the Prospect, an essay on anesthesia, 3D printing, teleportation, LSD, and other thought experiments on self-awareness. Also, this line: “If the spectrum of selfhood begins with the roundworm, surely it ends with Proust.”