The New York Times interviews Jacqueline Woodson, National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature and Tracy K. Smith, poet laureate of the United States for National Poetry Month. They discuss black history, bringing poetry to the central and rural parts of the country and to those who are incarcerated and why poetry isn’t as popular among adults. “Listening to music and lyrics and watching movies, I think, uses a lot of the same muscles we use in reading and experiencing poetry — and yet we somehow forget that we have those when it comes to sitting down with a book of poems.” It’s a delight, happy Saturday!
A professor at Clemson University believes he’s identified the fugitive slave who was harbored for one night in the home of Harriet Beecher Stowe. Moreover, the professor believes that the man was “an inspiration for the novel [Uncle Tom’s Cabin]. I think his pain touched [Stowe] and helped her to act.”
Two weeks ago, Tod Goldberg came out with a new novel, Gangsterland, that centers on a hit man in the Chicago Mafia. At The Nervous Breakdown, you can read an excerpt of the novel, as well as one of their trademark self-interviews, in which Goldberg explains that for the past three years, he’s been “writing and writing and writing. But sometimes, that just means I’m not writing at all.” You could also read the author’s dispatch from AWP.