“Poetry holds the knowledge that we are alive and that we know we’re going to die. The most mysterious aspect of being alive might be that — and poetry knows that.”—On today’s Fresh Air, poet Marie Howe discusses several of her poems, which deal with topics such as loss, love, spirituality, gender, sexuality and intimacy. (via nprfreshair)
“The genius of the great American newspapers used to be their comprehensiveness, their ability to print reviews of T.S. Eliot alongside Family Circle cartoons, to ply sensationalist murder stories and have a Hong Kong bureau tracking economic and political trends, to cover hokum and science. The understanding was that 1,000 flowers should bloom, that the value of information is in the eye of the beholder, and that by covering everything, the important things would get covered, even if we weren’t always sure what they were. Every whittling down of content is a step in the further destruction of the newspaper’s true value, and when the paring is based on publishing again whatever sold best in the past, we get a leaner, briefly more profitable paper, but one in which no new idea (since a new idea, by definition, is not a proven commodity) ever appears.”—Tom Lutz, “Future Tense,” in the L.A. Review of Books.
Whether they write novels or cover stories or op-eds, even the most talented women writers often aren’t validated in the same way that their male counterparts are. While there are few Neanderthals who would publicly say that the byline gap in literary journals and periodicals is due to the fact that women can’t write as well as men, the usual justifications include shrugging dismissals like, ‘We don’t get enough quality submissions by women.’ When I pointed out the 5:29 byline ratio of the fall 2006 issue of the Virginia Quarterly Review on my website, for instance, the journal’s editor, Ted Genoways, commented on the post that, ‘Unfortunately, the disparity in our issues is, I think, more reflective of a symptom than a root cause; there simply seem to be fewer women who are freelance journalists, travel writers, and political pundits — three areas that now largely compose our editorial content. As a result, the good ones are in high demand and often out of our price range.’
The byline gap closes in the bookstore: Women publish fiction, poetry, and nonfiction at a rate that’s representative of their actual numbers. But this is no meritocratic utopia — women’s writing is often met with dismissive assumptions.
“It has been a fascinating phenomenon in the discussion around publishing how adversarial people get around other people’s choices. So if someone says “I like an ebook,” a person will respond “Ohhh, I can’t believe — how can you do that?” It’s like that obnoxious person who you don’t want to go out to dinner with anymore because they can’t just order what they want, they have to comment on what you’re eating as well. What’s been epidemic in this discussion is that when both camps talk about their own preferences, they have to malign other people’s preferences too, and make grandiose extrapolations about the consequences of other people’s preferences for their own.”—Richard Nash, in an interview with Matt Runkle in the Boston Globe.