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Brave New Reading List: The Handmaid’s Tale

by Brita Thielen

Confession: I have never before read a Margaret Atwood novel.

This feels like a gross oversight, possibly on par with a mortal sin. A simple online search of the “The Handmaid’s Tale” brings up over 400,000 results, and the novel has been reviewed nearly 16,000 times on goodreads with an average rating of 5 stars. And let me tell you, it’s worth the hype. I cannot remember the last time I have been so completely blown away by a novel.

Alberta Clipper 2/3/2015: ‘Ford Pickup’ by David Allan Evans

On February 3rd, 1947, the first truck rolled off of the new Highland Park Ford assembly line in Highland Park, Michigan.  At the time, the Highland Park Plant was the only Ford plant to be specifically producing trucks. The truck, Ford’s F-Series, remains North America’s best selling pickup truck to date.

In the winter of 1973, David Allan Evans’ poem “Ford Pickup” was published in Prairie Schooner. On that cool February day the temperature was 48 degrees Fahrenheit, a bit warmer than the monthly average of 40 degrees.--Evan Berry

David Allan Evans
Ford Pickup

call me the Valiant heading west on Fourteen into the frozen
Dakota January sun and the one suddenly ahead the red
Custom Ranger with Texas plates and his woman taking
their time and all of my eye as he sits straight and high
beneath a white Stetson nodding politely over frost heave

Contributor Spotlight on Adélia Prado

by Dan Froid

In June of last year, the Griffin Trust for Excellence in Poetry’s Lifetime Recognition Award was bestowed on a poet whom, I suspect, most American readers know little about. And yet she is one of the most respected poets in her country, Brazil. Fellow poet Robert Hass paid her a superlative tribute: he noted that she has been compared to figures as disparate as Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, and St. Francis of Assisi.

Listen to This, Listen to That: War Portfolio

by Dan Froid

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

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. I’m not talking about those books that, say, retell Pride and Prejudice from Darcy’s point of view, or pick up the story after the original novel ends—much less Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.


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