Sunday, November 6, 2011

Students in Anonymity

I ate the best cheeseburger of my life this weekend at this place. Here's a picture of it.

Small epiphanies.


Which brings me to God Bless America, a collection that should be seen as part of a body of work intent on eviscerating and then forgiving our pitiful culture of excess, this social milieu in which we—our bodies bent to their “awful purposes”—run amok with the faintest grasp on reality and even less on our own motivations. We spout platitudes on the one hand, like Billy in the title story, about this “land built by opportunists,” and face painful truths on the other, as Sophie does in “Not Until You Say Yes”: “Nothing was ever done, it was always suffering some improvement. Were human beings really such factories of discontent?” Yes, we are, and Almond is a writer who is as painfully aware of the ludicrousness of our predicament as he is a believer in the possibility of our salvation.

-Ru Freeman reviews Steve Almond over at The Rumpus
(I want to read this book!)


-via NYT

Not sure what to make of this--I think you have to blame the poets/instructors for not being more aware of the situation...oh, words.


So that’s how and why, this spring, I found myself staring down a teetering stack of people’s poetic accomplishments (and hopes, and dreams), pages binder-clipped neatly together, manuscripts numbered so that each submission would remain anonymous. I learned a few things really quickly: most people front-load their manuscripts (aka, put their strongest 5-10 poems up front); many people are partial to really awful fonts (like Calibri or Arial or Gill Sans); generally, good manuscripts are not going undiscovered (as I later learned many of the manuscripts I chose had been pulled from the contest, as they had already won other contests and were slated to be published); and most importantly, I could only read about 20 manuscripts a day without slowly losing my will to live. This was not because the manuscripts were poorly written—quite the opposite was true: there were very few truly terrible manuscripts. I was sure I would be able to eliminate many right away, but that just wasn’t the case; most were at least serviceable, if not totally fine, and nearly all included at least a few compelling poems. And I had to choose between them.

-great essay by Erika Meitner on her experience as a contest screener


-interesting article on Elizabeth Bishop's feminism over at Granta


Great article on barefoot/minimalist running from New York Times Magazine. I've been using my Merrell Trail Gloves since last April and have never felt better about running...


New favorite band-of-the-moment.


m.p. said...

Thanks for all of these awesome links (including the cheeseburger joint). You've made my internet-ing more interesting and efficient.

Luke Johnson said...

Happy to be of service, m.p.!

I can't stop thinking about that burger. It's almost a curse...