This past Wednesday Tracy K. Smith officially began her term as the new U.S. Poet Laureate. After adding her name to the guest book traditionally signed by poet laureates upon the start of their one year term, she read aloud from previously published poetry collections and introduced new work. Ron Charles from the Washington Post reports “[a]mong her most powerful new pieces were ‘found poems’ constructed from archival letters that African American veterans sent to President Lincoln asking for pensions they were owed.” Smith is the first poet laureate appointed by the new Librarian of Congress, Carla Hayden. Stay tuned for her upcoming efforts to engage rural communities in poetry discussions.
Haven’t read our own Mark O’Connell’s great new essay at Slate? To mark the hundredth anniversary of Dubliners, Mark paid a visit to the James Joyce House, which led him to reflect on life in his native city. “If you live in Dublin, if you are yourself a Dubliner,” he writes, “no matter how many times you read the book, it will always reveal something profound and essential and unrealized about the city and its people.”
In Karen Russell's Swamplandia!, there is an enchanting place known as the abandoned Library Boat. "It held a cargo of books," Ava Bigtree explains, "In the thirties and forties, Harrel M. Crow, a fisherman and bibliophile, had piloted the schooner around our part of the swamp delivering books to the scattered islanders. Then Harrel M. Crow died and I guess that was it for the door-to-door service. But his Library Boat, miraculously, had survived on the rocky island, unscavenged, undestroyed by hurricanes. It was an open secret, utilized by all our neighbors." Now something similar has moored in England's canals. And, across the Atlantic, one New Yorker is keeping his own open secret.
Michael Kimball wants to save you $50,000 dollars on an MFA - by sharing what's he taught himself. Interested in reading more from someone without a traditional writing degree? Our own Hannah Gersen explains "The Value of Writing Programs: On Why I Don't Have an MFA."