How do you write about the end of the world? Or avoiding the apocalypse? The drying up of our water or our adaptation to living with less? How do you imagine—and make real—global superstorms and cities swallowed by the sea and the hottest summers on record? And how can
I had a professor in college who maintained that writers write about artists in other disciplines—painters, musicians, sculptors, etc.—when they want to write about writers without actually writing about writers. There’s probably something to this.
“The orders were given from Stalin’s country house at Kunstevo” begins Nathan’s Englander’s perfect short story “The Twenty-seventh Man.” In it, Englander uses a combination of the horror of history and the beauty of fable to tell a story about the power of story itself.
In the days after the police killing of Tamir Rice, I came across the writing of Stacia Brown (including her essay For Tamir, Who Was Stolen). Her writing on Black motherhood drew in this young reader who rarely clicked on links about motherhood.
All literature is, in a sense, the literature of place—for all literature takes place someplace, calls up a setting with all its specificity of look, taste, sound. To ask the essential question of literature—How do we live?—is also necessarily to ask: Where do we live?
One could argue that the work of Diane Schoemperlen is highly unusual even beyond its incredible strength: a more lyric prose managing publication through larger and more mainstream Canadian publishers. Given her work, I was curious to engage with her memoir, This Is Not My Life.
In 1999, Robert Bringhurst—polyglot translator, poet, and typographic authority—published A Story as Sharp as a Knife, a book about Haida myths and mythtellers. Bringhurst retranslates the work of several Haida poets using century-old transcriptions from anthropologist John Swanton.
For years, the Breadline reading series brought together Seattle's writers, performers, and artists. I saw fiction writers and poets read there alongside stand-up comedians, pianists, graphic novelists, and rappers.
What happens when you read to manifest, rather than escape, your preoccupations?
At whatever point "Make it new" became a phrase so canonically removed from its creator that it began to reach the minds and ears of young writers years before they'd ever pick up Pound's poetry, a particular fine-edged damage was done.