It would be unwise, unfair, and impossible to list the sexiest poems in the Western tradition. Sex, you don’t need me to tell you, is variable, personal, and subjective. “Greatness is, too,” you might add. Maybe it is. But there is something about the poetry on this list that transcends the merely “good.” These poems, which span from antiquity to today, are great poems. There is something egalitarian, too, about this selection, which more or less chose itself. Sex as a poetic subject has a way of equalizing discourse by way of its… Read More
Everyone knows that, statistically at least, girls read more than boys. But the classic, canonical growing-up books, at least in American culture, tend to represent the male experience — I’m thinking On the Road, The Catcher in the Rye, everything ever written by Bret Easton Ellis or Michael Chabon — and while these are great books, suitable for boys or girls, the question remains: where are the books for girls to grow up on? Well, they’re definitely out there, if perhaps assigned less often in schools to readers of both genders. And so I propose a Girl Canon, populated by books not necessarily for girls but which investigate, address, or represent the female experience in some essential… Read More
It’s hard to be a person in the world today — or, really, any day, but today’s what we’ve got. Humans are striving creatures, and also empathetic ones, so most of us are always looking for an opportunity to improve ourselves, even in tiny, literary ways. We’ve already established that novels can make you a better person, but of course, novels also take you down a long winding road to get there. If you’re looking for a more direct shot to the heart, try an essay. After the jump, you’ll find 50 essays more or less guaranteed to make you a better person — or at least a better-read one — some recommended by notables of the literary and literary nonfiction world, some recommended by yours truly, incessant consumer of the written word. Don’t see the essay that changed your life? Please do add it to the list.
… Read More
It’s National Poetry Month, and you’re probably thinking: “I should really read more poetry. But where oh where do I start?” Well, sound the trumpets, because here is Flavorwire to the rescue! Click through for a list of 50 essential books of poetry that pretty much everyone should read. There’s something for everybody here, from the deeply established canonical works to riveting, important books by newer poets, from the Romantics to the post-modernists, from the goofy to the… Read More
This morning, we spotted a few gorgeous photographs of Coco Chanel’s book-filled salon over at Book Patrol, and it got us to thinking about that much-romanticized, often revived tradition of thinkers from centuries past: the literary salon. For your daydreaming pleasure, we’ve collected a few paintings and photographs of famous literary salons from the 1600s to the 1970s.
… Read More
The ratio of male to female writers published in literary journals, magazines, and book reviews remains largely disproportionate in favor of male writers. But the lit mag Creative Nonfiction‘s current issue, “Female Form,” includes only essays by female writers. To hammer home the point that there are indeed plenty of women writing serious nonfiction, the magazine curated this list of 17 essays by female writers that every woman (and man) should… Read More
When we think of feminist poetry, we think of Adrienne Rich, one of the most influential poets of the past century, not to mention one of the most important feminist poets. Had she not passed away earlier this year, today would have been Rich’s 83rd birthday, so to celebrate her life, we’ve put together a list of feminist poets still living and continuing her legacy. Because Feminist Ryan Gosling only goes so far. Click through to see a few feminist poets you should probably know about, and since there are of course many more than we can list here, let us know if we missed your favorite in the comments.
… Read More
We were saddened yesterday to learn that Adrienne Rich, the incomparable feminist poet and essayist, passed away at 82. The poet, whose work has been an essential part of the American poetic canon for the last fifty years, was much-lauded in her many years of activity, receiving (among other honors) a Yale Younger Poets Award, two Guggenheim Fellowships, a National Book Award, a MacArthur Fellowship, and a National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. In 1997, she was awarded the National Medal for the Arts, the most prestigious award an artist can win, and refused it, writing to then-president Clinton that “The radical disparities of wealth and power in America are widening at a devastating rate… A president cannot meaningfully honor certain token artists while the people at large are so dishonored.”
Rich’s body of work is massive and varied, and there are several nearly all-inclusive collections floating around (our guess is that there are about to be a few more), but here we’ve collected what we feel to be the essential books from this incredible poet, who will long be remembered as one of the most influential writers of the 20th century.
… Read More
This year, a whopping 1,223 books were submitted for the 62nd National Book Awards. Just this morning, the twenty finalists were announced in front of a live audience on Oregon Public Broadcasting’s morning radio program, Think Out Loud. At the start of the program, when asked what separated the National Book Award from other literary prizes, National Book Foundation executive director Harold Augenbraum noted that the finalists and winners are chosen only by “practitioners in the genre,” something relatively unusual among American book awards. 2001 Young People’s Literature winner Virginia Euwer Wolff commented, “It’s comforting to know we are being judged by people who do what we do.”
Each NBA Finalist will receive a medal and a prize of $1,000. The four winners, one each in the categories of Young People’s Literature, Poetry, Nonfiction and Fiction, who will be announced next month, will receive a $10,000 prize. Click through to see the 2011 National Book Award nominations and let us know your predictions for the winners in the comments!
… Read More