Endowed in perpetuity by the Glenna Luschei Fund for Excellence
Why does it seem easier to talk about war when it’s used as a metaphor?
I don’t think war is noble
And I don’t like to think that love is like war
But I got a big hot cherry bomb
And I wanna slip it through the mail-slot of your front door
“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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.