Instagram poets like Rupi Kaur and Atticus have been polarizing forces in the literary world: on the one hand, they have millions of followers (and sell books in similar numbers); on the other, they tend to ignore existing poetic traditions, and pretty much everything else that print poets consider essential to the genre. So, is what they write really poetry? And according to whom? For the Poetry Foundation’s Harriet blog, poet and scholar Timothy Yu considers in greater depth the significance of these Instagram poets in the larger world(s) of contemporary poetry and writing, “It’s very easy to respond, as many have, by dismissing [Instagram poets] as ‘not real poets’ who pander to untutored readers. But isn’t there also a tinge of jealousy in our response? A sense that our work and the work of our peers should be recognized, and rewarded, by a larger audience? And an uncomfortable awareness of how small and closed our ‘actual’ poetry world can sometimes seem?”
“To be a Patrick Leigh Fermor, a Colin Thubron, a Norman Douglas or Paul Theroux, requires always saying yes. To not-get-raped, according to every lesson I – and so many other women – have been taught, so often requires saying no.” On the paradox of being a women and a travel writer.
A while back, I pointed readers to Ayn Rand’s version of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, helpfully published by The Toast’s Mallory Ortberg. It satisfied those of you who never understood why Harry didn’t slough off his legions of parasitic friends. Now, The Toast brings us the conclusion to the series, in which Harry’s labors bring him the rewards he deserves. Sample quote: “I have earned the Elder Wand through my own achievements.”
Callie Collins sits down with Emily Bell, the editor of Farrar, Straus, and Giroux Originals, in the latest issue of Midnight Breakfast. Bell also published Lucia Berlin’s recent story collection A Manual for Cleaning Women. Bell states: “The voices I publish, they’re not trying to please their readers.”
Haruki Murakami’s love for jazz is no secret – he used to own a jazz bar, he’s written full essay collections on the music, and his books are peppered with references to jazz songs and musicians. How fitting, then, that there’s finally a playlist of jazz songs mentioned in Murakami’s writings. Pair with our many past essays on Murakami.
Miguel de Cervantes died and was buried 399 years ago, and apparently no one thought to mark his grave. But the Guardian has reported that after two years of searching a team of archaeologists have found and positively identified the Don Quixote author’s body, and there are plans to open his crypt to the public next year in honor of the 400th anniversary of his death.
A recent Curiosity noted autistic British artist Stephen Wiltshire drawing the New York City skyline from memory. A new book Drawing Autism will collect the work of other autistic artists. Wiltshire chose not to be in the book because he didn’t want to be seen as “just” an autistic artist. More from the book.
The Ripped Bodice (the only bookstore in the United States dedicated solely to romance books) released a report looking at the state of diversity in 2016 romance novels. Last year there were only 7.8 published romance novels by writers of color for every 100 books from 20 major romance publishing companies. “Of particular concern is the suggestion, as revealed by the study, that publishers are not reflecting their readership base with any kind of parity. According to Pew Research, black women with college degrees are more likely to read a book than any other group. Since romance readers are approximately 84 percent female, this suggests there is a large swath of the population who don’t see themselves represented in authors or protagonists.” Entertainment Weekly highlights some major takeaways from the survey, read the rest of the appalling stats and then go support romance writers of color.