Recently we read about a new media company that aims for the elusive market known as millennials. Nothing new there, except for the fact that its name, OZY Media, has some decidedly highbrow origins.
Watson said the name of the company came from one of his favorite poems—Shelley’s Ozymandias—which tells the story of an ancient king whose broken statue now sits forgotten in the desert. Some have taken the poem to mean that even mighty kings are eventually forgotten, but Watson said the lesson he takes from it is that you have to dream big. And there is no question OZY is dreaming big.
Brooklyn bard Walt Whitman, born in Long Island on this day, is the subject of a new opera by composer Matthew Aucoin called Crossing. “Whitman is a figure that I have been fascinated by for a long time, and his personal journey, his decision to drop everything and volunteer in the hospitals for three or four years [post Leaves of Grass], and the mystery of that,” said the artist. “What was he really doing beforehand? Was he in some sort of middle-life crisis? What were his motives?” Whitman’s life and words continue to provoke questions and inspire readers. The poet’s humanist, transcendentalist approach to relationships, nature, beauty, and the soul is life-affirming — as evidenced in these quotes and fragments of his poetry.
Often a given year’s publishing calendar is lopsided — the heavyweight books come out in September, after the literary mind has been thoroughly and evenly baked by the summer sun. But not this year! After a spirited April, we’re seeing a wise and hilarious May. One-of-a-kind acts of literary brilliance? Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts and Nell Zink’s Mislaid. Clear-eyed interventions in American life? Try Susan Neiman’s Why Grow Up? or n+1‘s City by City. There is even a potential science-fiction masterpiece in Neal Stephnenson’s Seveneves. If we project our minds to the end of 2015, my guess is that we’ll see many of these on those lists of “best” and “notable” …Read More
English poet Lord Byron’s reputation as a heartbreaker precedes him. During his most publicized affair with British aristocrat Lady Caroline Lamb, the society darling famously declared the Don Juan “mad, bad, and dangerous to know.” It’s an epitaph still quoted to this day. On the 191st anniversary of the Romantic rogue’s death, we’re looking back at some of Byron’s swooniest quotes — pieces of his works that prove the bon vivant’s seductive writing prowess was always on point, making him one of the greatest Romantics of the age.
Senator Rand Paul has had a rough first foray onto the Presidential campaign trail. He scolded female reporters, dodged questions, and seemed bored by the salt of the earth constituent types he claims to represent. As The Washington Post noted after a mere day of America’s experiencing Candidate Paul: “The rocky media rollout of his presidential effort highlighted a key question facing him now: whether the same tough approach that has made him a favorite among Tea Party activists and libertarians might be limiting in a national campaign,” To put it more simply: is this dude too much of an abrasive jerk to win over the country?
Rand Paul needs to soften his image, no doubt about it. Fortunately, National Poetry Month in April offers us a great opportunity to see the more scholarly and, um emo, side of the guy (as evidenced by the recently unearthed photo above). To that end, Paul sent us some great discussion questions to jumpstart our consideration of six famous poems, excerpted below.
Has translated literature in the United States turned a corner? With some exceptions, readers of literature in translation (which should include every schoolchild in the land) no longer wait listlessly for their favorite authors to be translated. Thanks to a thriving, industrious translation community at home and abroad, the situation is now the opposite: brilliant unknown or unfamiliar authors are published every month, along with new translations of classics, lost or beloved. Surely there is still work to be done, but we have the translation community to thank for doing it.
Kenneth Goldsmith’s “The Body of Michael Brown”: How a Poem Meant to Illuminate Racism Ended Up Performing It
Last Friday, at a Brown University conference titled Interrupt 3, MoMA Poet Laureate Kenneth Goldsmith read from the St. Louis County autopsy report for Michael Brown, which he had appropriated and lightly edited for a poem he christened “The Body of Michael Brown.” The audience reaction, according to one report, was “fairly subdued.” The Twitter reaction was not.