The U.S. Library of Congress has named its newest poet laureate, reports The New York Times. Tracy K. Smith says, “I’m very excited about the opportunity to take what I consider to be the good news of poetry to parts of the country where literary festivals don’t always go. Poetry is something that’s relevant to everyone’s life, whether they’re habitual readers of poetry or not.” Pair with our review of Smith’s memoir Ordinary Light.
Today sees the arrival of a unique title from the Center for the Art of Translation. Wherever I Lie Is Your Bed provides translated poetry and fiction from 30 writers and is meant to introduce English-speaking readers to writers whose work would otherwise be difficult or impossible to find in English. Elsewhere, the biggest literary release of the week is Vladimir Nabokov’s The Original of Laura, which has caused no small amount of consternation among critics, and Alice Munro’s latest collection, Too Much Happiness, which can be expected to be more warmly received. On the non-fiction side, a new collection of Zadie Smith essays came out last week.
Recommended Reading: Elisa Gabbert at Guernica on the relationship between ideas and language. “How can the name come after the concept if you need the name to understand the concept? This problem of circularity always made me resistant to the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis in its strong version, which states that our thoughts are bound by the restraints of our language.”
In a Simpsons episode from the late nineties, Lisa Simpson, concerned that her mental skills may be deteriorating, manages to finagle her way onto a local TV news broadcast, where she urges the residents of Springfield to read two books: To Kill a Mockingbird and Harriet the Spy. At first glance, the two novels might not seem to have that much in common, but as Anna Holmes argues in a blog post for The New Yorker, the books share “ideas about the complexity, sophistication, and occasional wickedness of young girls’ imaginations.” (You could also read our own Garth Risk Hallberg on Malcolm Gladwell and To Kill a Mockingbird.)