Of note in the writing world
I’ve never quite seen the amount of attention paid to the National Book Awards as they were given this year. Regionally, this might have something to do with awards given to Minnesota authors Louise Erdrich and William Alexander, but it’s also part of a larger effort by the National Book Foundation to create a bigger splash with the awards and, the hope is, to get more people reading. From a recent NPR report:
In recent years, the National Book Awards have been criticized for nominating too many little-known authors while ignoring big names. The award, some people whispered not too softly, was losing its allure. In response, the National Book Foundation looked for ways to attract more attention. This year it announced the finalists on morning TV, and a number of well-known writers were included among the nominees.
Harold Augenbraum, executive director of the National Book Foundation, insists there was no change in the way the awards were judged, but he says the National Book Awards should have a higher profile. “We are trying to attract more attention because I think the more attention you attract will help us meet our goals,” Augenbraum says. “And the goal really is to get more people to read good literature and good writing.”
Also, sadly, we mark the passing of one of the poetry world’s most singular and powerful voices, Jack Gilbert. He was 87. Here is the complete text of his poem Failing and Flying via the Academy of American Poets’ “Poem a Day”:
Everyone forgets that Icarus also flew.
It’s the same when love comes to an end,
or the marriage fails and people say
they knew it was a mistake, that everybody
said it would never work. That she was
old enough to know better. But anything
worth doing is worth doing badly.
Like being there by that summer ocean
on the other side of the island while
love was fading out of her, the stars
burning so extravagantly those nights that
anyone could tell you they would never last.
Every morning she was asleep in my bed
like a visitation, the gentleness in her
like antelope standing in the dawn mist.
Each afternoon I watched her coming back
through the hot stony field after swimming,
the sea light behind her and the huge sky
on the other side of that. Listened to her
while we ate lunch. How can they say
the marriage failed? Like the people who
came back from Provence (when it was Provence)
and said it was pretty but the food was greasy.
I believe Icarus was not failing as he fell,
but just coming to the end of his triumph.
As the East Coast continues to return to normal after Superstorm Sandy, we’re seeing plenty of reaction from the arts. Tyler Green at Modern Art Notes writes that digital archives of works of art, while not nearly as powerful as the art itself, preserve at least some sense of the endeavor when the work is lost in a natural disaster. And, over at Hyperallergic, artist Muffin Bernstein shares what he learned from Hurricane Katrina for the benefit of artists on the East Coast. His words ring true for any practicing artist whose work could be consumed in a natural disaster. Like, say, a flood.
If you’re in the mood for some satire, and the current hullabulloo over a certain CIA director’s extra-marital affair has your head spinning, check out “The Love Poems of General David Petraeus” by David Biespiel over at The Rumpus.
Image: Jason Mecier spent over 50 hours creating this portrait of Honey Boo Boo from “two cans of hair spray, three tiaras, make-up, mascara, fake eyelashes, coupons, sketti, butter, ten cheese balls, two Red Bulls, one Mountain Dew, a McDonald’s chicken nugget, a pink Snuggy box, an empty toilet paper roll, one cabbage patch doll and a jar of Pigs Feet.” Enjoy. Via Dangerous Minds.