For the New York Review of Books, Maya Millet examines the buried history of the heroines of America’s Black Press. For many people, Ida B. Wells remains the most well-known black woman journalist, but Millet encouraged readers to dig deeper: “[Wells] was part of a much larger network of black women journalists who dared to wield their pens in the names of truth and justice. At a time when all women were discouraged from engaging in ‘unladylike’ activities like politics, the women of the black press were boldly writing about racial justice, gender equality, and political reform.”
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This past Wednesday Tracy K. Smith officially began her term as the new U.S. Poet Laureate. After adding her name to the guest book traditionally signed by poet laureates upon the start of their one year term, she read aloud from previously published poetry collections and introduced new work. Ron Charles from the Washington Post reports “[a]mong her most powerful new pieces were ‘found poems’ constructed from archival letters that African American veterans sent to President Lincoln asking for pensions they were owed.” Smith is the first poet laureate appointed by the new Librarian of Congress, Carla Hayden. Stay tuned for her upcoming efforts to engage rural communities in poetry discussions.
“The notion that American literature might have an imperial bent—that it might be anything other than a string of lightly co-influential works of ‘imaginative power,’ and might itself reflect our national desire to dominate—is lost on its critics, both right and left.” Jonathan Sturgeon in The Baffler on American exceptionalism and “the imperial self” in fiction, with particular attention paid to the work of two other Jonathans, Franzen and Safran Foer.
Haruki Murakami retired his running shoes to walk to Kobe and rediscover his hometown. “Strictly speaking, it’s not my home town any more. I feel a deep sense of loss at this fact, as if the axis of my memories is faintly, but audibly, creaking within me. It’s a physical sensation,” he writes in an essay for Granta.