Our tragedy today is a general and universal physical fear so long sustained by now that we can even bear it. There are no longer problems of the spirit. There is only the question: When will I be blown up? Because of this, the young man or woman writing today has forgotten the problems of the human heart in conflict with itself which alone can make good writing because only that is worth writing about, worth the agony and the sweat.
He must learn them again. He must teach himself that the basest of all things is to be afraid; and, teaching himself that, forget it forever, leaving no room in his workshop for anything but the old verities and truths of the heart, the old universal truths lacking which any story is ephemeral and doomed - love and honor and pity and pride and compassion and sacrifice. Until he does so, he labors under a curse. He writes not of love but of lust, of defeats in which nobody loses anything of value, of victories without hope and, worst of all, without pity or compassion. His griefs grieve on no universal bones, leaving no scars. He writes not of the heart but of the glands.
-Faulkner's Nobel Speech; listen to him deliver it here.
The pines flame and hiss, shooting sparks on the house next door, a fortress no more. The oaks tumble and crush roofs. Almost 350 homes burn to the ground, and nearly 5 million people lose all electricity in sweltering heat. Lobbyists and congressmen curse at mute cellphones and sweat through their seersucker. The powerful are powerless.
Less well-known is that the world’s literati also are cross-talented—that in addition to writing works that have shaped our culture, many poets and authors have practiced visual art as a vital component of their creative output. From William S. Burroughs and Charles Bukowski to Henry Miller and Sylvia Plath, renowned writers of the twentieth century made paintings, drawings, and collages. These creative outpourings enhance our understanding of their authors’ written works, and stand on their own merits as well. Some of the art is whimsical; Mark Twain and Kurt Vonnegut, for instance, were inveterate doodlers. Other examples—such as the work of e.e. cummings—is astonishing in its mastery. Here is a look at the visual output of 19 literary greats.
The raw thrill of both “How Should a Person Be?” and “Girls” (and let me acknowledge here that I am hardly the first person to compare the two) is in the way they treat heterosexual coupling as secondary, and how they depict the profundity of female friendships, not to mention their real perils—which are quite different from the competitive jockeying that is so often imagined. It is other women, not men, Dunham and Heti seem to be saying, who most impact the evolution of girls into women. Other women, not men, who provide the opportunities for self-expression and self-discovery. Other women, not men, who bear witness to the triumphs and tragedies of young womanhood. Other women, not men, in whom we both find and lose ourselves.
-The New Yorker
I have a new poem in the latest issue of Quarterly West. The whole issue is dynamic and well set. There are knock-out poems by Casey Thayer, C. Dale Young, Sally Wen Mao, and others. Big thanks to LFC and the gang over at U of U for seeing fit to include me in such righteous company.