“I am uncomfortable in my role as witness.” Nehal El-Hadi writes for The New Inquiry about the online spectacle of black death, exploring what “Black thanatosensitive” user experience design might look like. And ICYMI: our own Ismail Muhammad on Frank Ocean and depictions of the black male body.
Recommended Reading: Thomas Dylan Eaton on the Austrian writer Peter Handke.
Calling all undergrads and grad students! McSweeney’s is holding their first-ever Student Short Story Contest. The grand prize — $500 and publication in their 51st issue — will go to the student who sends in the best story before the last day of August. Get cracking, but don’t go beyond their 7,500-word limit.
Though Mark Twain first gained notoriety after publishing an essay about a famous jumping frog, the onetime Samuel Clemens didn’t really hit his stride until he became a public speaker, as the money he accrued from reading in front of audiences gave him a steady source of income. At Salon, Ben Tarnoff recounts Twain’s journey to the podium, one laid out more broadly in Tarnoff’s book about a group of San Francisco writers.
Jack Gilbert died yesterday at the age of 87. Gilbert was the author of five standalone poetry collections—as well as additional collected volumes such as last March’s Collected Poems—and he was also a past winner of a National Book Critics Circle Award. For The LA Times, John Penner reviews the poet’s legacy. Or, perhaps as fitting tribute to Gilbert’s life and work, better to hear his own final lines to the poem “Failing and Flying”: “I believe Icarus was not failing as he fell, / but just coming to the end of his triumph.”
At the Ploughshares blog, Erinrose Mager interviews Year in Reading alum Rick Moody, who talks about his classes at NYU and why he prefers “the mentorship model” of teaching writing over the workshop model. (Related: our founder C. Max Magee reviewed Moody’s book The Diviners back in 2006).