In 1994, Maya Angelou cooked a meal of crowder peas, okra, and beef for a crowd of 150 people. The dinner was in honor of Toni Morrison—who had been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature the previous year—and U.S. Poet Laureate Rita Dove. Although Angelou is less often associated with cooking and food writing, she would go on to write two underrated cookbooks, Mayukh Sen writes in an article for The Guardian. In Hallelujah! The Welcome Table and Great Food, All Day Long, Angelou’s food writing “hums with the same vibrancy that marks her more prominent work.”
“The idea that a ‘book of the year’ can be assessed annually by a bunch of people – judges who have to read almost a book a day – is absurd, as is the idea that this is any way of honouring a writer.” Amit Chaudhuri in The Guardian about why the Man Booker Prize “is bad for writers.” And in these pages, Mark O’Connell asks why we care about literary awards at all.
Recommended Reading: This interview at The Paris Review with poet Morgan Parker: “I think personal narrative is really important for the individual and for a collective and for a people. I think it’s important to have agency in that narrative. There’s so much about contemporary life where one story is written upon the person by the outside world, by circumstance.”
Elizabeth Bishop famously exchanged letters with Robert Lowell so remarkable they were later collected and published (Words in Air). This Recording has prepared a selection of her letters to Lowell and others, including one edit focused on the year after a lover’s suicide. Pair with a meditation on the relevance of Bishop’s poetry at crucial life moments.