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I wonder what a first date with Bluebeard would be like. He’s immensely wealthy but also immensely ugly. You know he’s been married several times, and that all of his marriages have ended badly. But you don’t know why. And that’s pretty much all you know about him. So if you’re on a date with Bluebeard—coerced, most likely, by the promise of wealth, if not domestic comfort—what do you talk about? Does he read? He probably has a huge library but never touches his books. I’m thinking of that scene in The Great Gatsby, where the guy with the owl eyes is surprised that Gatsby has actual books in his library, that it’s not all just for show. Do you think Bluebeard’s library is real?
This week’s dystopian fiction pick is P.D. James’ novel The Children of Men (Warner Books; 1992). James, best known as a crime fiction writer with a literary edge, passed away quite recently – in November 2014. Her central concern in this novel is similar to the one posed in Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale: how would society change if the human race became unable to procreate?
In our Winter 2014 issue Alicia Ostriker curated a poetry portfolio on the theme of Women and the Global Imagination. We were so struck by the portfolio that we wanted to continue dialog surronding this theme. The Prairie Schooner blog seemed like a good place to do that. Today we bring you a post by Hila Ratzabi that explores the theme of Women and the Global Imagination by delving into mythology, specifically, the story of the Inuit goddess Sedna, and how her story remains relevant today. We hope you enjoy reading.
In a twist on our usual Contributor Spotlight posts, this week we present an interview with poet James Crews. Crews is the winner of the 2010 Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry. His award-winning manuscript, The Book of What Stays, was published in 2011 by the University of Nebraska Press. He is also the author of three chapbooks: What Has Not Yet Left, Bending the Knot, and One Hundred Small Yellow Envelopes. He agreed to speak with me about the prize, place, influence, and more. He previously appeared on our blog in another interview, in 2013.
1. What did winning the book prize mean for you as a poet?
I’ve been thinking about place: where we spend our childhoods, where we move and live, the places we find wonderful or detestable or just endurable. Writer and filmmaker Julie Dash recalls her childhood in “Location, Location,” Episode 43 of Air Schooner. Though she was born and raised in Long Island, both of Julie Dash’s parents came from South Carolina, and her life and experiences have been inflected by the Gullah/Geechee culture of that state.
This week’s post should make it fairly obvious where I drew my inspiration from for the title of this blog series. Brave New World (1932; Harper & Brothers) is the oldest novel I will address in this series. I chose it in part because while it was not the first, it is probably the most well-known of the early dystopian novels. It also contains themes and social concerns that are still relevant today.
It is easy to get lost in the Midwest mentality – the humility and neighborliness, the passion for a state or sports team, the sense of family and community – and forget that the rest of the country is out there with their own styles and attitudes. In his 1953 poem “A Visit to New England,” Jon Swan emphasizes the pride that follows travelers as they venture away from home and encounter those with predispositions towards their region. February of 1953 in Lincoln was warmer than usual, with an average temperature of 40.5˚ F, while New England suffered the same fate with temperatures in the 30s and 40s. At least New Englanders and Midwesterners have the weather to commiserate about. --Daley Eldorado
A Visit to New England
When I said I came from Nebraska
She looked at her vague shoes, down her invisible hose,
And smoke rolled from her nose.
Prairie Schooner is, of course, well-known for the many writers of poetry and fiction whose work appears in our pages. But we don’t so frequently acknowledge those whose work is, in fact, the most visible to us. I’m talking about our covers: this week, we’re going to draw your attention to a beloved artist who also happens to have a Prairie Schooner cover to his name.
I was thinking about the divide between humans and animals recently—big subject, maybe, but I was reading Frankenstein and felt compelled to consider where the creature fits in. A classmate in the seminar asked us, Why do we read? We wonder, why does the creature read? Does it transgress against our nature to do so? Although animals lack rationality, they certainly do not lack curiosity—and curiosity could go a long way toward considering why a dog must investigate its surroundings, or why I must read.
This post is the first in an ongoing series of blog posts on the theme of Women and the Global Imagination. In our Winter 2014 issue Alicia Ostriker curated a poetry portfolio on this theme, and we were so struck by its contents that we wanted to keep the dialog surronding this theme going on our blog. Liz Granger's essay does just that, and shows us that ideas that are global in scope can have their genesis in the individual imagination. We hope you enjoy reading.