Madeleine Olneck’s new film, Wild Nights with Emily, explores Emily Dickinson’s romance with Susan Gilbert Dickinson, her sister-in-law and neighbor. Olneck was able to use Dickinson’s poems in the film with the permission of Harvard University Press, something that seems strange to Seth Perlow at the Los Angeles Review of Books. “One ought not expect a single institution to unilaterally change the norms of intellectual property,” Perlow writes, “but in the case of a poet as famous as Dickinson, one might wish that Harvard would relax its grip. As it stands, the wealthiest university in the world claims the rights to a body of poems that were unpublished when their author died, over 130 years ago, and many of whose source manuscripts this institution has never possessed.”
File under events you won’t want to miss: Kate Zambreno hosts her second Belladonna* Prose Event this Tuesday in New York, featuring three leading ladies of innovative lit. Renee Gladman, Danielle Dutton, and Amina Cain will discuss the walker as essayist, flaneuring through urban space, and skirting the margins of genre. 7:30pm, at Dixon Place.
“In fact, I think Plath has turned out to be a much better poet than Hughes ever was. Of course he won all the prizes, and his name is on the stones in Poet’s Corner and OK, he’s pretty good, but not that good, whereas she gets better and better.” Granta interviews the critic Al Alvarez, onetime friend of Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes.
In Case You Missed It: This email exchange between playwright Sarah Ruhl and the late Max Ritvo, whose Four Reincarnations is out next week: “I think my mind is a set of lapis lazuli steps falling apart, and all I want is to be told ‘it’s alright, we rebuild it every day’ But what is the it? What is it? And if I was vaporized by a ray gun but was then replaced instantly by an identical person with an identical filigree of nerves shot through with identical sparks cased in an identical skull—would it still be me? I don’t think so. I don’t know if even a perfect Reincarnation would be a Reincarnation to me, in my heart. I’m starting to feel like Theseus and I just want my fucking ship out of the dry-dock and back on the water.”
Michael Cunningham, who alongside Maureen Corrigan and Susan Larson sat on the jury of the Pulitzer Prize for for fiction, gives the clearest account yet of how the award process works and defends the three shortlisted titles. His letter is in two parts, he also addresses the function of judgment and begins to build a poetics of literary greatness.