Bonnie Nadzam asks us what should fiction do? “An artistic practice that perpetually reinforces my sense of self is not, in my mind, an artistic practice.”
“By now, you are probably asking yourself, Did these two ever talk about anything serious? Of course, we did. We talked about how writing a poem is no different from taking out a frying pan and concocting a dish out of the ingredients available in the house, how in poetry, as in cooking, it’s all a matter of subtle little touches that come from long experience or are the result of sudden inspiration.” Charles Simic writes movingly about his friend, the late poet Mark Strand, and their various schemes, from buying palazzos to founding a gastronomic poetry movement, for The New York Review of Books.
The 2017 Whiting Award winners were announced tonight at a ceremony in Manhattan, and this year’s list of ten honorees includes Francisco Cantú (The Line Becomes a River), Simone Wright (Of Being Dispersed), Phillip B. Williams (Thief in the Interior), Kaitlyn Greenidge (We Love You, Charlie Freeman), Tony Tulathimutte (Private Citizens), Jen Beagin (Pretend I’m Dead), and Lisa Halliday (Asymmetry) as well as playwrights Clarence Coo, James Ijames, and Clare Barron. The award, which recognizes early-career writers of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and drama, comes with a $50,000 prize. Excerpts from each writer’s work can be read at The Paris Review.
If you like your music country/folk-ish with a difference, Joshua James new album Build Me This might be of interest. No Depression, the roots music blog, describes the album as a hybrid of “chain-gang chants, country-fuzz rave-ups, gospel rafter-raisers, southern blues grinds, and civil war camp songs.” Try not to be taken aback by the Jared Leto-in-a-mud-mask cover art.
“There are dangers for an artist in any academic environment,” says former Poetry editor Christian Wiman, who now teaches at the Yale Institute of Sacred Music. “Academia rewards people who know their own minds and have developed an ironclad confidence in speaking them. That kind of assurance is death for an artist.”