For The New Yorker, Stephanie Burt examines how the work of poet Seamus Heaney became synonymous with happiness and joy—and how it came to be quoted by presidents and casual readers alike. “It is this later, happier Heaney who comes into his own in his family’s idiosyncratic selection. Almost buoyant, occasionally repetitive, surprised by himself at least as often as he surprised readers, this Heaney remained self-conscious, revisiting and answering earlier verse. ‘The Conway Stewart’ is a fancy pen, the first the poet owned, and the sharp-lined, short-lined poem of that name returns to a three-way comparison in ‘Digging’ (the first poem in his first book), between spade and pen and gun.”
Patti Smith’s M Train was released this Tuesday. Geoffrey O’Brien reviews her memoir at The New York Review of Books: “Perhaps M Train represents the attempt by someone whose career is as public as can be imagined to stake out a zone of inviolable privacy, albeit through the public act of writing a book meant for publication.” Need more music? Check out our Torch Ballads and Jukebox Music column.
As part of the River to River Festival, poet Jon Cotner has put together a “floating world,” or a map of Japanese poet Matsuo Bashō’s work transposed onto Rockefeller Park. Each hour, Cotner will lead a tour through the world. This isn’t the first time Cotner’s done something cool like this, either. Check out our dispatch from his “Poem Forest” last year.
Out this week: Death of the Black-Haired Girl by Robert Stone; Hild by Nicola Griffith; A Permanent Member of the Family by Russell Banks; The Collected Stories of Stefan Zweig; and A Prayer Journal by Flannery O’Connor. For more on these and other new releases, go read our Great Second-Half 2013 Book Preview.
The 2017 Hugo Award winners were announced in Helsinki, reports io9. For the second year in a row N.K. Jemisin came away with the best novel prize for her latest, The Obelisk Gate, and Ursula K. Le Guin (whom we interviewed a few years back) took “best related work” for her collection Words Are My Matter: Writings About Life and Books, 2000-2016.