“It’s really strange to have the success of a poem be so directly tied to people processing grief. It’s a strange thing, because it’s a blessing and a curse.” The Rumpus interviews poet Maggie Smith about her new collection, Good Bones, her viral poem that shares its name, and her craft. From our archives: Smith’s collection was featured in our round-up of October’s Must-Read Poetry.
In her short history of executioners, Stassa Edwards notes that the decision to replace “the traditional punishment” of drowning people “in a sack in a local river” was actually quite pragmatic: it was “more economical” to go with a simple beheading.
A literary event with an extremely star-studded guest list will be held next month for a good cause. The World’s Most Literary Rent Party Ever will raise money for author Charles Bock’s wife, who is receiving treatment for leukemia, and will include Jonathan Franzen, Jonathan Safran Foer, Mary Gaitskill, Joshua Ferris, Rivka Galchen, Amy Hempel, Nicole Krauss, Rick Moody, Richard Price, George Saunders, and quite a few others.
“There is one rule [to writing biography] that all who try their hand at it come to know: until the protagonist reveals his or her character—his or her inner self—what the biographer produces is less a life than a report, an autopsy rather than the record of a séance.” David Levering Lewis writes for The American Scholar about biography and writing “the lives of African-American figures, and [finding] in them the story of our times.”