“The hijacking of public language, as is happening now, is a way to shift perception—to bend and control thought—and must be resisted.” Summer Brennan pens a powerful first entry for her twice-monthly column about language and power at The Literary Hub. Read also our own Lydia Kiesling, who tells us, “I have to believe that literature can be a weapon of a sort — it explodes comfort even while it delivers comfort; it reveals hypocrisy in a way that the mere presentation of facts often cannot.”
After last week's NYT "Room for Debate" feature, ostensibly in answer to the question of why so many adults read YA fiction, Roger Sutton at the Horn Book took umbrage at the panelists' only partial engagement with the question. In the end though, he makes his own position clear: "I don’t worry about adults reading YA novels. Read what you want."
How’s this sound: an eight-mile midnight stroll through Fire Island, replete with Socratic dialogue and references to Sappho, Pythagoras, Diogenes and Hippocrates? Such is exactly what you get from Island Night, the latest project of poet Jon Cotner (previously mentioned for his We’re Floating and Poem Forest projects). As the poet explains to the NY Times, his mission with the walks was to revive “the ancient and endangered practices of walking and talking.”
"But poems are not poems if they make people feel dead. I want people to feel alive – even if it is alive with grief." The Guardian profiles poet Danez Smith about poetry; race, gender, and queerness; and their poetry collection, Don't Call Us Dead (a finalist for the National Book Award). Pair with: an essay on writing that gives shape and depth to victims of criminal injustice.
The L Magazine features an interview with poet/multi-genre artist Claudia Rankine, whose performance piece The Provenance of Beauty: A South Bronx Travelogue -- a Rankine-written-and-recorded narrative that accompanies a bus ride through the South Bronx -- will run for two months beginning Labor Day Weekend.
“A couple of years ago I attended a British Council discussion about the state of contemporary writing and the creative future in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation. When someone brought up the dearth of memoirs in the Nigerian literary landscape, almost everyone in the room laughed ruefully. Someone joked aloud, ‘We can’t write memoirs. We’d have to wait for parents to die. Not just parents – everyone who knows us, even!’ This concern is not limited to nonfiction.” Bim Adewunmi writes for BuzzFeed on African immigrants’ stories.
The Social Network writer Aaron Sorkin has signed on to adapt a biopic about Steve Jobs (not to be confused with the Ashton Kutcher one) which will be based on Walter Isaacson’s biography of the same name. Meanwhile, as the news was announced, Sorkin gave a memorable commencement address at Syracuse University.