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Contributor Spotlight on Brock Clarke

by Dan Froid

“Take a hapless Danish cartoonist with a fatwa on his head. Put an American secret agent with secrets of her own in charge of his well-being. Give her the half-baked idea of hiding said cartoonist in an upstate New York town, disguising him as a high-school guidance counselor. Turn up the emotional boil on love triangles and spy intrigue, then arm everybody with a gun.” That’s how GQ’s recent interview with Brock Clarke describes his newest novel, The Happiest People in the World (Algonquin Books, 2014). When I read the description, I thought two things: 1) “This sounds weird,” and 2) “I should read this.” Invoking those sentiments seems, fortunately, to be Brock Clarke’s game.

Listen to This, Listen to That: Travel Writing

by Dan Froid

Travel writing is a genre that dates back to Herodotus—he of the tome Histories, which tells you all you ever wanted to know about life in fifth-century Greece, Asia, and Africa.

Life and Literature: Q&A with Writer Bernardine Evaristo, Women Published in 2014 to Read Now

By Cameron Steele

2015 is well under way but it feels like an appropriate time to reflect on one of my least beloved holidays. I’ll say it now: I am not a huge New Year’s Eve fan. I can attribute this to:

A)    a string of lackluster NYE moments (stuck in a broken-down boat in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay with my family, for example, or stuck in an Alabama newsroom covering the first homicide of 2012), and, more importantly,

B)    the reality that I’d rather be at home reading a good book when the ball drops than anything else.

Brave New Reading List: A Blog Series on Dystopian Fiction

By Brita Thielen

J: A Novel – Howard Jacobson

So, you read 1984 and The Giver in high school, and now you’re anxiously awaiting the final installment of The Hunger Games movie franchise. In the meantime, you’re wondering what else is out there in the great world of dystopian fiction.

Or maybe you’ve never read a dystopian novel before but hearing about them everywhere you turn has you curious. Where should you start?

Contributor Spotlight on Mari L'Esperance

by Dan Froid

In an interview with Matthew Thorburn, Mari L’Esperance notes, “When writing, image almost always comes first. Images represent the earth’s body and ground us in the physical world. By the time an image makes its way into a poem, it’s been simmering internally for a good, long while.” Often dreamlike, L’Esperance’s poems are full of striking images, sometimes tenebrous, sometimes disarming. A poet, writer, editor, and practicing psychotherapist, Mari L’Esperance is also the winner of the 2007 Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry.

Listen to This, Listen to That: Ekphrasis

by Dan Froid

Ekphrasis comes from the Greek, meaning “to speak out,” referring to poetry written in response to a work of art, typically painting. Poet Brandon Som suggests, in Air Schooner Episode 20, that ekphrastic poetry comes from the impulse to tell a piece of art about itself. Som also reads his poem “The Tribute Horse,” which was inspired by the painting “Finches and Bamboo.” On the other hand, as Scott Winter explains, “Perhaps wanting to speak to the art is really seeing the self somewhere in the art.” So ekphrasis might also refer to art that uses another piece as a starting point and refracts it somehow, developing it into a distinct work.

Alberta Clipper 12/23/14: “As the Snowplows Tear the Streets” by Greg Kuzma

The winters of 1973 and 1974 in Lincoln, NE, were interesting times for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Cornhuskers. Tom Osborne, a familiar name amongst Husker enthusiasts, spent his first year as head coach of the Cornhuskers in 1973. In the following season, Tom Osborne coached the Huskers all the way to the Cotton Bowl, where they played a long-standing rival, Texas, concluding the game with a victory.

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.

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