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Listen to This, Listen to That: Series Syndrome

by Ashley Strosnider
It’s Friday morning, and the avid listeners of the most popular podcast ever, Serial, likely heard the last episode of the season sometime yesterday. (If not, no worries. No spoilers here.) There's something special about the format, the way the story unfolds, moving backward and forward across wrinkles and obsessions. There's something, dare I say, poetic about the ways the episodes talk back and forth with each other that resonates, too, with the way series of poems work with and against each other, troubling and teasing expectations in what Air Schooner Episode 41 calls "series syndrome."

Contributor Spotlight on Ursula K. Le Guin

by Dan Froid

What do you get for the woman who has everything? The National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, perhaps. Ursula K. Le Guin, author of science-fiction and fantasy novels, children’s books, short stories, poetry, and essays—and winner of a slew of additional awards and prizes—received one of American literature’s highest honors in November. The Foundation recognized Le Guin for “[defying] conventions of narrative, language, character, and genre, as well as transcend[ing] the boundaries between fantasy and realism, to forge new paths for literary fiction . . .

Listen to This, Listen to That: Unlikely Heroes

by Dan Froid

It’s not news by now that our culture has developed an obsession with antiheroes: from Breaking Bad to Dexter to Hannibal, we really enjoy watching despicable people—mostly men—do despicable, unspeakable things. “Unlikely Heroes,” Episode 25 of Air Schooner, takes a different tack: the episode discusses, not exactly antiheroes, but heroes you wouldn’t expect. They’re unexpected—not in the quote-unquote “unbelievable,” viral-video, small-town-dad-rescues-a-kitten-from-a-burning-grocery-store sort of way, but “villainous” heroes, unusual or unsavory people to whom we are nonetheless drawn, and who turn out to be heroes in their own sort of oblique ways.

Contributor Spotlight on Batsirai E. Chigama

by Dan Froid

Slam poetry has exploded in popularity in the last few years. It seems to be almost everywhere, moving beyond local slams to, for example, the Nerd Poetry Slam of Vancouver—which featured poems referencing Star Trek: The Next Generation and potential future reptilian overlords—and to youth camps for students in New York City. This week, we’re highlighting a slam poet of our own, whose work we love even if it doesn’t discuss Jurassic Park.

Listen to This, Listen to That: Spiritual Experience

by Dan Froid

In “Spiritual Experience,” Episode 13 of Air Schooner, Jericho Brown reads from his essay “The Possibility of God.” He discusses his fraught religious history and his reason for writing: “I write because my writing mind is the only chance I have of becoming what the living dead are for me. I exist because I was impossible for someone else to be before me.” Listening to Brown, I can’t help but think of Judee Sill, whose mystical longing expresses a kind of diffracted prayer.

Ten Prairie Schooner Contributors Awarded NEA Fellowships

by Danielle Pringle

The art world is bustling with news and excitement since the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) announced the recipients of its 2015 grant funding. The NEA has awarded thirty-six Creative Writing Fellowships in Poetry, selecting the recipients from among 1,634 eligible manuscripts received, a record number. The fellowship allows recipients to use their time for writing, research, travel, and career advancement.

Life and Literature: Trying to ‘See Difference Differently,’ Writers to Read after the Ferguson Decision

by Cameron Steele

I had Ferguson, Missouri on my mind when I first pitched the idea for the “Life and Literature” column series in early September. 18-year-old African American resident Michael Brown was newly, tragically dead, and the public did not yet know the name of the policeman who shot him. The national media just had begun to turn their cameras to the outrage and the protests on the streets of Ferguson.

I was horrified by what had transpired there – and by the maliciousness I encountered in the social media conversations of friends, family members, and acquaintances. These are people who are, like me, white people of privilege. To see them ignore the racial injustice of Michael Brown’s killing in the days and weeks after it happened was infuriating.  

Contributor Spotlight on Nguyen Phan Que Mai

by Dan Froid

The Internet has been alive lately with the sound of translation. Or perhaps the lack thereof: on the Melville House blog, Mark Krotov issued a call to action to bring back the National Book Award for Translation.  Still, we have much to celebrate: in the run-up before the announcement of the finalists for the Best Translated Book Award, an award organized by the Three Percent blog of the University of Rochester, a number of posts have popped up that debate potential contenders. And many of the nominees for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award 2015 are works in translation.

Listen to This, Listen to That: Eat Like a Writer

by Dan Froid

No two things in all things can seem only one;
Because two things so must be one thing alone.
Howbeit, reading of books and eating of cheese,
No two things, for some things, more like one than these.

Life and Literature: Not Mockin’ Ya, More YA Dystopian Novels to Read After the Hunger Games and Co.

by Cameron Steele

Katniss Everdeen was my improbable savior five years ago when I spent three days buried under 19 inches of snow.  I was cold, tired, and unsure if I would survive, but Katniss burned the snow away from my frostbitten mouth so quickly that – even today – I still have scars where my eyebrows should be.

OK, not quite. In real life, my normal eyebrows are really normal. And while I did find myself caught alone in an honest-to-God snowstorm in Virginia, Katniss didn’t save my life. She did, however, set fire to the boredom that had settled under the comforters with me, and I spent my few days without heat, water and electricity with a fresh copy of the first Hunger Games book to read by candlelight.

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