In 1994, Wanda Coleman published American Sonnets, full of sonnets (14 lines, 10 syllables) that—among other things—don’t rhyme. The sonnets in Terrance Hayes’s American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin (2018) pay tribute to Coleman, and continue her project of experimentation with an old, often revered form. For Slate, Stephanie Burt writes about Hayes, American sonnets, and confinement: “Lyric poetry—the poet imagines—works by finding words for someone’s passions, which could also be your own: it can get you out of your one situation, your one body, your one life, though it will not literally free you from a literal jail.” Hayes’s sonnets may intentionally evoke feelings of confinement or discomfort in us, but they also contain the potential to lead toward liberation.
Gerrard Winstanley’s 1649 “The True Levellers Standard Advanced.” The True Levellers were a radical Protestant sect that founded a commune in Surrey during the English Civil War. In this rather astonishing and neglected declaration, Winstanley argues that God intended the earth to be a common treasury for all and that disparities in property and power between the rich and the poor are unholy and need to be abolished. (Billy Bragg has a song on Back to Basics called “The World Turned Upside Down” that’s based on the Diggers’ Song, also written by Winstanley.)Bookride documents the surprising desirability of W.G. Sebald books among collectors. “At one point his books were making exceptional sums on Ebay and people wanted ephemera, posters, recordings and anything to do with his legendary walk from Lowestoft to Boulge.” The Rings of Saturn is coveted in particular. Only a few hundred copies of the English first edition were printed and they mostly turn up in East Anglia.Many a freelance journalist has pondered the idea of an online marketplace for writing in recent years, one that might ease the inefficiencies and frustration of pitching articles. Attempting to fill that gap is Reporterist, a journalism marketplace. One of the founders offers up details of the project in an interview with the Online Journalism Review.
My mom pointed out this article in the Washington Post about a bookstore in Baltimore that primarily gives away books rather than selling them. It’s called the Book Thing:”That’s the whole thing with the Book Thing,” Wattenberg says. “All I am is a middleman. The people have books…. They give them to me, they’re happy to have a place to see them go somewhere, and the people that get the books are happy to get the books.”Also, file under conspicuous consumption: Anyone looking for an extravagant gift for the film buff in their life should look no further.Spotted on the el: The Travels of Marco Polo… sure the red line doesn’t go all the way to China, but we can dream.
New this week: Visitation Street by Ivy Pochoda, Fin & Lady by Cathleen Schine, and, available for the first time ever as ebooks, Roberto Bolaño’s masterpieces 2666 and The Savage Detectives. There are many, many more anticipated books on offer in our big second-half preview, published this week.
J.K Rowling is a vandal! The billionaire and author of the Harry Potter series left her mark in an Edinburgh hotel room when she scribbled some graffiti on the back of a decorative bust back in 2007. “J.K. Rowling finished writing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in this room on 11 Jan 2007,” it reads. Oh, I suppose that’s okay.