We talk often about fearless writers. We use words like "brave" and "unflinching on book jackets and in glowing blurbs when the protagonists within enact dangerous behavior without moral-of-the-story appeals and sensationalized flourishes.
Steve Almond’s new book, Against Football, asks essentially the same question. How is it that a game which “in its exalted moments, is not just a sport, but a lovely and intricate form of art” also legitimizes, as he says, “a tolerance for violence, greed, racism, and homophobia”?
Everyone knows something about the power of things, how they remind us of our actions over time, how they have the power to delight or disappoint us. I’m referring here to what Katy Simpson Smith calls “oddments”—the items we don’t mean to collect, that we can’t quite bring ourselves to throw away, that we put on a desk in a spare room and forget.
Tess Taylor’s debut book of poetry, The Forage House, is a lyric wonder rich with the complications of an Old South genealogy. Though she was born in California, Taylor is related to rural Appalachians, New England missionaries, and a powerful and political slave-holding family from Virginia: the Jeffersons (yes, those Jeffersons). In The Forage House, we find Taylor haunted by her family’s past, navigating between legend and truth, marked and unmarked graves, trying to make sense of a deep-rooted history.
Some thirty or forty linear feet of my poetry library played a minor role in the movie The Portrait, starring Lauren Bacall and Gregory Peck. A minor role in a minor movie. It was directed by Arthur Penn, but it is no Bonnie and Clyde by any tally. That saddens me, as I was a Penn fan and I had a pleasant talk with him on the movie set, mainly about our mutual friend, the poet Richard Wilbur.