March is Women’s History Month, making it a good time to look back on the authors who have shaped us. For the New York Times, Min Jin Lee recounts the paradigm-shifting experience of reading bell hooks as a sophomore at Yale. “[It] was as if someone had opened the door, the windows, and raised the roof in my mind,” Lee writes. “I am neither white nor black, but through her theories, I was able to understand that my body contained historical multitudes and any analysis without such a measured consideration was limited and deeply flawed.”
“The magical aspect of poetry does not diminish the value of critical scrutiny. Scholarship has clarified the meaning of poetry. The point is rather that an essential part of poetry’s power has little connection to conceptual understanding. Poetry proffers some mysteries that lie beyond paraphrase.” Dana Gioia with a beautiful essay on the enchantment of poetry for The Dark Horse. Check out our extensive On Poetry archive and continue your journey of poetic enchantment.
Recently, a Czech linguist named Jakob Murian came up with an estimate of the number of languages your average European speaks. The study is complicated, however, by the question of how much you need to know to really understand a given language. At the LRB’s blog, Glen Newey asks: are you fluent when you can order a beer, or when you can translate Virgil? Pair with: Abigail Rasminsky on learning to speak German.
At The Awl, Noah Davis provides an honest overview of how difficult it can be to earn – or fail to earn – a living from freelance internet writing. Perhaps would-be freelancers should take a cue from Ian Hamilton’s 1998 London Review of Books essay in which he espoused the benefits – or perils – of accepting prizes and other literary subsidies.
Sarah Howe’s debut poetry collection, Loop of Jade, has been awarded the T. S. Eliot prize. “Howe’s work – the first debut poetry collection to win the British prize since it was inaugurated in 1993 – triumphed over a particularly strong shortlist, which featured some of poetry’s biggest names, including Don Paterson, Claudia Rankine, Sean O’Brien and Les Murray.” If poetry isn’t for you, try our own Nick Ripatrazone’s ten poems for people who hate poetry.
Six novelists discuss their second-favorite art forms (after writing, of course). Before you click, see if you can guess which one of these folks is most interested in opera: Kazuo Ishiguro, Lavinia Greenlaw, John Lanchester, Alan Werner, Sarah Hall and Colm Tóibín.