“But poems are not poems if they make people feel dead. I want people to feel alive – even if it is alive with grief.” The Guardian profiles poet Danez Smith about poetry; race, gender, and queerness; and their poetry collection, Don’t Call Us Dead (a finalist for the National Book Award). Pair with: an essay on writing that gives shape and depth to victims of criminal injustice.
In 1998, not long after publishing his first novel, Dan Brown paid a visit to an English class at Phillips Exeter. Among the students in attendance that day was future New Yorker editor Joshua Rothman, whose fragmented recollection of Brown’s appearance turned into an instructive tale about “memory and its tricks.”
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.”
In her controversial book The Fall of Language in the Age of English, Minae Mizumura argues that English, thanks largely to its global predominance, threatens to lessen the diversity of expression in the world. At Bookslut, she tells interviewer Corinna Pichl about her book, her issues with lingua francas and things you can say in Japanese that you can’t say in English.