Sometimes it seems that adolescence lasts forever. Unfortunately, there’s now evidence that it does in many ways. At The Atlantic, Megan Garber reviews Popular, a new book by a psychology professor which examines, well, popularity.
"Her exchanges with Americans in small towns and rural communities are inspiring an appreciation of poetry and history – and remind us that poetry has value for all of our lives." The Library of Congress appointed Tracy K. Smith to a second term as the 22nd Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry for 2018-2019. For her second term, Smith edited an anthology called American Journal: Fifty Poems for Our Time, which will be published by Graywolf Press in association with the Library of Congress. Pair with: our review of Smith's memoir, Ordinary Light.
If you're struggling with your writing, turn to biographies of famous authors. This is Tom Perrotta's cure for writer's block. "It’s inspiring to read about a flawed human being who struggled with his or her demons and afflictions, experienced paralyzing episodes of failure or self-doubt, but somehow managed to do the work anyway, and produce something that enriched the world. That’s my version of self-help," he said in a New York Times "By the Book" interview.
"Grim was the world and grey last night / The moon and stars were fled." It looks like even J.R.R. Tolkien might have been a an angsty teen. Two previously unseen poems by the legendary author have been found in a forgotten annual printed by a small primary school in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, in 1936. For another Tolkien-related blast from the past, here is W.H. Auden's review of The Return of the King, book three of the Lord of the Rings series.
Toni Morrison talked about writing, race relations, and journalism in a conversation with Hilton Als at the New Yorker Festival last week, and the highlights are available online. Als has also written an illuminating profile of Morrison for the magazine.
"Puzzled as to why her mother had not figured out “Miriam” on her own — or why, after Capote became famous, she did not say much about her letter and his answer — Ms. Akers sought clues." The New York Times writes about recently discovered letter from Truman Capote to a young reader who misunderstood his first published story. Read our own Michael Bourne on the tragedy of Capote's life.
"That’s why I’m organizing this fundraiser for Planned Parenthood, because for me the right to say what happens to my body is the right to make art." Year-in-Reading alum Claire Vaye Watkins has launched "Dabbler's Ball," an art auction featuring work by some other boldtype names you might know (Ramona Ausubel, Lauren Groff, Tom McGuane, Emma Straub). Bidding runs until September 5th and 100% of the proceeds will go toward the venerable PP. See also: our reviews of Vaye Watkins's novel Gold Fame Citrus and Battleborn, her first story collection.