Literature – River And Sound Review Tue, 11 Jan 2022 07:00:36 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Literature – River And Sound Review 32 32 “Writing in verse was both extremely demanding and very rewarding”: Amitav Ghosh Tue, 11 Jan 2022 07:00:36 +0000 Writing in verse format comes with its own set of challenges, but is hugely rewarding, says 2018 Jnanpith Prize winner and acclaimed author Amitav Ghosh. Gosh’s Jungle Nama: A Sundarban Story, which is in verse format, has now been converted into an audiobook available on Audible, read by Pakistani writer and musician Ali Sethi.

The verse adaptation which evokes a “sense of Sundarban through its poetry” features an episode from the legend of Bon Bibi, a tale popular in the villages of Sundarban, which is also at the heart of his novel, The hungry tide. It is the story of rich miserable merchant Dhona, poor boy Dukhey and his mother; it is also the story of Dokkhin Rai, a powerful spirit who appears to humans as a tiger, of Bon Bibi, the benign goddess of the forest, and of her warrior brother, Shah Jongoli.

The original printed version of this legend, dating from the 19th century, consists of a Bengali verse known as dwipodi poyar. The book Jungle Nama is a free adaptation of the legend, told entirely in a poyar-type meter of 24 syllabic couplets which reproduce the cadence of the original. In an email interaction with, the author discusses the verse format, the rise of self-publishing, while reflecting on 2021.

Why worms?

This story requires some suspension from your everyday sense of reality. But that could be said of many of the most important moments in our lives – like when you look over your shoulder and see a tornado (or tsunami) coming straight towards you. Or when you look across a room and think to yourself, “Ah, this is the person I’m going to spend the rest of my life with. If this suspension of reality comes more easily to children than to adults, it is because life has not torn from them the sense of the infinite possibilities of the world. With adults, verse stories can sometimes help transcend the everyday sadness of adult life, which is why Jungle Nama is in verse.

This is your first book in verse. What is difficult?

Writing in verse, especially in a very tight metric form, was both extremely demanding and very rewarding. It was a wonderful experience.

What is your opinion on the audio adaptations?

I enjoyed working with Audible. While I didn’t go into the technical details (which were handled by my editors, Harper Collins), I really do think audio as a medium is here to stay. For authors and creators, it opens up a new form of storytelling and allows them not only to work with their written words but also to express themselves through their voices and sounds. People say audio is a new medium, but actually I think it brings a sense of nostalgia – the storytelling is so ingrained into the very fabric of Indian culture and goes back many generations. Audible provides access to a variety of untold stories from the original way the stories were told, by listening.

Do you agree that reading habits have changed over the years?

Reading habits change irreversibly. Young people today do a lot of their reading digitally, which means they interact with the written word in a very different way than people of my generation. They are more used to seeing images in the same space as text, for example. Likewise, they are also more accustomed to the text being accompanied by sound. I think that enriches the text in many ways. And certainly, Ali Sethi has created something much richer than the usual kind of audiobook; he composed music, and we collaborated on writing a few songs, etc. We wanted to create an immersive experience, and I think Ali did it wonderfully.

There is a proliferation of literature from self-publishing to publishing houses that publish books every day. What is your opinion ?

I think it’s great. When I started out as a writer, it was almost impossible to find publishers of English books in India. It couldn’t be more different now, and I think that’s a good thing.

How would you describe 2021?

The main lesson from this period, in my opinion, is that we have to learn to value the simple things in life, like family, friends, shared meals, etc.

How did you get through your confinements?

I was mostly working on my new book The curse of nutmeg; Parables for a planet in crisis.

What are you looking forward to in 2022?

Of course, we all hope for a return to what we considered “normal”, but everything suggests that there will never be a return to this state. We are now indeed in the throes of a multidimensional planetary crisis, and we must prepare for many years of growing uncertainty.

What are you reading these days?

I am reading The dawn of everything by David Graeber and David Wengrow, an absolutely amazing book. I pick up books when they look interesting.

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President calls for more literary works for children | Society Sun, 09 Jan 2022 10:42:00 +0000
President Nguyen Xuan Phuc (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA)President Nguyen Xuan Phuc attended a ceremony in Hanoi on January 9 to launch a campaign on the creation of literary works for children and to present the first young author’s prize.

The campaign focuses on two genres of prose and poetry, and lasts for five years from the end of 2021 to May 2025. It is divided into two phases with the first from January 2022 to June 2023, and the second from July 2023 to July 2025.

The campaign aims to, by writing books of literature, praise, encourage and honor good virtues, actions and thoughts, thus inspiring, encouraging and enriching the souls of children, making them become good and useful people in the future.

Directory Young Author Award recognizes excellent literary works of the year in four categories of poetry, prose, theory – criticism and literary translation by authors aged 35 and under. This year, the winners are Ly Huu Luong and Phuong Dang (Poetry), Dinh Phuong (Prose), Vu Thi Trang (Theory – criticism) and Nguyen Binh (Literary translation).

Speaking at the ceremony, President Nguyen Xuan Phuc highlighted the position and role of writers and their works in the life and cause of nation building and safeguarding, especially the precious literary workswith omnipresent and timeless influences.

Creative writing for children is an interesting and meaningful subject which must be strongly encouraged and disseminated because dreams, desires and ambitions must be nurtured from an early age until adulthood and literature is the source of the food for the soul, he added.

The president called Vietnamese writers and all of society to give the best to children for the future of the nation./.


10 things to consider before planning a major in English literature Fri, 07 Jan 2022 17:11:31 +0000

English Literature is a subject that can change your life and make you a different person. This is what graduates of this subject say. It changes your perspective on world issues and makes you quite a cultured person. It is a vast subject which, if you take it seriously, can make you a deep thinker with many other skills and abilities. Speaking of the labor market, it is also growing and is not much of a disappointment in Pakistan. Graduates are employed in multiple positions by many companies. However, you must have a certain temperament and skills in order to select a major in English Literature.

Don’t select it when you have nothing else to study

It is strange that such a broad subject is chosen when the students think there is no other option. Yes, it is a trend in Pakistan that many students choose English Literature when they cannot be admitted into other ‘first priority’ subjects. The same students are unable to cope with the burden of study after the very first semester. There will be a lot to study and learn in this area, so only select it if you really feel like it.

You have to be a good reader

You don’t necessarily have to be someone who has read hundreds of books, but at least you should be a book lover and a good reader. You are going to have a lot of books to read for your presentations and your homework. So, keep this in mind before choosing this topic as your main subject.

See if you can do relevant work

If you want to study English literature, you should consider the job market before that. Would you be good to work in journalism, public relations, academics, entertainment, and creative writing? If so, then this might be the right choice.

Be prepared to study various topics

You are not going to stick to a few literature related subjects, it is a diverse field and you will have to study different subjects. Most of the time, students are not ready to study subjects like philosophy, critical history and cinema, etc. Along with that, you should get a taste of the plays, poetry, and prose.

See if you are interested in writing

You don’t have to be an exceptional writer. But having an interest in writing is a must. You will need to write in-depth homework and articles so that you can express your ideas in words constructively. You will learn to be a good writer, but only when it interests you.

Be prepared to do an in-depth reading

If you think you can get a degree with minimal effort, English literature is not your cup of tea. You should be prepared for a thorough reading. And yes, you will need to read various types of books, from philosophy and history to novels, plays and poetry. If you can’t do it, look for other better options.

Evaluate your critical thinking

Are you a critical thinker? Or do you think you’ll be interested in improving your critical thinking skills? If so, you can choose this field. but if you have the temper of people who don’t think these skills are important to learn and grow, you are by no means a good candidate for literature.

Are you ready to shoulder the burden of important assignments?

If you are looking for an easy subject where you will spend a semester effortlessly, English Literature should not be on your list. It is a subject where one cannot even have a point of view without reading it and preparing for it. So if you are ready to do long assignments and enjoy studying, this might be the right choice.

You must have a good command of the language

A common problem observed among literature students is that they do not have a considerable command of the English language. These students, when asked critical and detailed questions, are not able to produce quality answers as required. If you think English is not the language in which you can learn and grow, then don’t look for this option.

It’s literature, not the English language

A common misconception that many students have before choosing English literature is that the topic is about one language. Language is important but is only a small part of it. This topic is more about history, philosophy, criticism, literature, and other intellectually stimulating topics.

In short, English Literature is a vast subject that requires all of your intellectual, creative and critical skills. Without them you could get a degree in Pakistan, but your abilities will not be sufficient to qualify as a graduate in this subject. So, only go there if you are up to the challenge.

Banning books helps politicians but hurts students Wed, 05 Jan 2022 15:00:38 +0000

But no, it’s not the 50s or 60s. It is 2022, and our “leaders” are trying to ban books. Where is the outcry from those people who were so alarmed when they thought Dr Seuss’ books were banned? In fact, they only stopped reprinting six of his books, a decision made by the publisher.

Where is the contempt for culture cancellation now when LGBTQ books are now targeted? Georgian students like James Liming, featured in AJC’s story, make connections in books and find windows and mirrors that Rudine Sims Bishop, one of the early champions of multicultural children’s literature, talks about in his essay “Mirrors, Windows and Sliding Glass Doors. “

Bishop, professor emeritus at Ohio State University, in this famous essay describes books that reflect the reader’s experience as “mirrors” and books that offer a view of someone else’s experience as ” Windows “. The “sliding doors” offer the reader a chance to step into another world and be a part of history. These books save lives. Librarians save lives and now it is all threatened by people trying to secure their re-election.

These same people don’t want black history taught in school. They use words like “Critical Race Theory”, “Awakening” and “Book Ban” to incite their base. As a school librarian, I always ask my students, “Have you read the book? I have to ask the same of these people. Have you read the books?


Cicely Lewis, school librarian at Meadowcreek High School in Gwinnett County in Norcross, created Read Woke, a program in which students explore literature that challenges social norms. His program has gained worldwide acclaim and is now in use in many schools. (Courtesy of Cicely Lewis)

Credit: Cicely Lewis

Cicely Lewis, school librarian at Meadowcreek High School in Gwinnett County in Norcross, created Read Woke, a program in which students explore literature that challenges social norms.  His program has gained worldwide acclaim and is now in use in many schools.  (Courtesy of Cicely Lewis)
legend arrowLegend

Cicely Lewis, school librarian at Meadowcreek High School in Gwinnett County in Norcross, created Read Woke, a program in which students explore literature that challenges social norms. His program has gained worldwide acclaim and is now in use in many schools. (Courtesy of Cicely Lewis)

Credit: Cicely Lewis

Credit: Cicely Lewis

I guarantee you the answer is no. As I tell my students, if you haven’t read the book, how can you participate in the discussion? Do lawmakers really think the book ban will stop our young people looking for and seeking information? Well, they mustn’t have heard of the internet.

As a mother and educator, I know the fastest way to get a child to do something is to tell them they can’t do something. As School Librarian of the Year 2020, I know I have a responsibility to say something because I am committed to ensuring that students have access and that their intellectual freedom is guaranteed. I will not remain silent during this time. As Zora Neale Hurston said, “If you keep silent about your pain, they will kill you and say you enjoyed it.

I will not live in fear. I will continue to fight for the intellectual freedom of my students and my children. I will continue to distribute and donate books whenever I get the chance. I will continue to fund grants for teachers using my non-profit organization so that they can continue to educate our children so that they can be compassionate citizens and informed citizens.

I will be offering scholarships to students who read books and make change in their community. Our young people are watching and what we are doing now matters. In AJC history, former public school superintendent John Barge said that schools are not the place to “talk to kids, you know they can be what they want to be. “.

Do you think books are the reason a child is transgender or gay? Do you think banning these books will prevent us from having transgender children? If you do, then you have to go back to school.

These books are needed to help students understand the plight of others and learn more about themselves in the process. Schools are NOT the site of gun violence, but too many people would rather focus their energy on banning library books than passing laws to help stop school shootings.

I encourage everyone to write to your local leaders and make your voice heard. We need more voices to stand up for our children. Teachers were targeted during the pandemic and now leaders want to be able to sue school librarians. It must stop and we must do something now before it is too late. For those of you who don’t think this problem applies to you, then wait. Because they will use it to ban Holocaust books, slavery books, and racism books.

So please:

• Write to your local leaders the importance of intellectual freedom

• Donate to organizations that provide access to books

• Join the PTA

• Vote

• Buy books and gift books for the young people in your life

Unless we speak up and make our voices heard, it is the beginning of a story that will not have a good ending.

Amherst Regional High School unveils new course offerings for next fall Mon, 03 Jan 2022 16:55:52 +0000

AMHERST – Disabled Justice Literature, Textile Arts and Introduction to Dance featuring hip hop, house and lockdown are among the new courses expected to be taught at Regional High School in ‘Amherst next fall.

The offerings, developed by eight teachers, were approved earlier this month in a unanimous vote by the Amherst-Pelham Regional School Committee.

Superintendent Michael Morris said the classes fit the high school’s goal of providing students with a deeper understanding of the world around them.

But Morris warned that teachers’ creativity can only occur if there is a budget to support their initiatives, noting that Amherst is in a competitive market to exhibit the talents of its educators. Morris said the budget will largely depend on the valuation method that allocates the payments for which Amherst, Pelham, Shutesbury and Leverett will be responsible.

As budgets are worked out for the next school year, Morris said this would inform the possibility of having these new courses.

School committee chair Allison McDonald said the mission is to support every learner, no matter what their passion.

Amherst representative Peter Demling said he appreciates the variety of courses and it is the duty of committee members to promote and support a budget that will allow them.

“It’s about meeting the students where they are and presenting our offerings to those students,” said Demling.

The Justice for Persons with Disabilities Literature Course is a five-year project for the Director of the English Department, Sara Barber-Just. The 9-week elective course for seniors will focus on reading writers and activists with disabilities and critical historical moments, such as the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the end of institutionalism.

Readings include “Sitting Pretty: The View From My Ordinary Resilient Disabled Body” by Rebekah Taussig and “The Secret Life Of A Black Aspie” by Anand Prahlad. “It’s like you really hear the people themselves,” Barber-Just said.

Demling said the course was “kind of innovative” and wondered if there were parts that could be incorporated into the regular curriculum.

Art teacher Kristen Ripley is preparing a course in textile arts which she hopes will interest students and enrich their artistic repertoire.

As a fiber artist herself, Pelham representative Margaret Stancer said the class would be great to have in school.

New dance teacher Remy Fernandez O’Brien said the dance program will study the history, culture and social activism of hip hop, house and foreclosure.

“Having a class like this shows that dancing is for everyone,” said Fernandez O’Brien.

A one-semester course “Engineering for Social Good” will be taught by John Fabel as part of the need for more advanced technological offerings. Paul Polak’s “Out of Poverty” will be the main text.

Other new courses include two electives in physical education, “Net, Wall and Target Games” and “Foundations of Personal Fitness,” a quarter-course of “Advanced Robotics” that will use the $ 5,000 in. VEX robotic equipment already in school, and a new course specializing in advanced chemistry.

The course development comes as the school continues to use a “4 by 4” block schedule, with four classes in the fall and four classes in the spring, instead of the old “7 drop 1” schedule in which the students took seven courses. course at a time, but one course was not taught each day.

While school committees usually do not have a say in what courses are taught in college and elementary schools, Morris said high school courses need to be approved because they can address controversial topics.

More new courses are also introduced in 2022 than in a normal year. “This is a higher number of new courses,” Morris said.

Scott Merzbach can be contacted at

Minneapolis poet and homeless champion Ethna McKiernan dies at 70 Sat, 01 Jan 2022 21:26:52 +0000

Some people are dedicated to sharing culture, creating art, or helping others. Ethna McKiernan was passionate about all three.

She helped spread Irish culture, wrote acclaimed poetry and worked to serve the homeless.

“She has given more to others than anyone I have ever known,” said her son, Conor Moe of Minneapolis. “Sometimes regardless of his own health to help others.”

McKienan died of cancer on December 12 at her Minneapolis home. She was 70 years old.

“Ethna was a Renaissance woman, single mother, poet and fearless homeless advocate – who also had a special passion for Irish history and literature,” said her brother, Kevin McKiernan of Santa Barbara, California.

She was born in Rochester, NY, one of nine siblings whose grandparents were born in Ireland. His family lived in Dublin for a year, then moved to Minnesota. She graduated from the University of Minnesota and received an MA in Poetry from Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa, North Carolina.

For 30 years, McKiernan operated Irish Books & Media in Minneapolis, which distributed Irish music and literature. She “gave Irish Americans a deep appreciation for contemporary Irish literature and culture,” read an obituary in the Irish Times, a Dublin-based daily. Books Ireland magazine called her “Ireland’s true sister which has opened cultural doors for Irish writers and book publishers”.

McKiernan later spent 13 years working with homeless people on the streets, sometimes taking risks or breaking the rules as she did.

Monica Nilsson, who worked with McKiernan at the Spirit of St. Stephen’s Catholic community, said that “the street approach is kind of youth work” – physically and mentally taxing. McKieran did so until he was 69.

“There’s always an element of danger when you’re in these cracks and crevices of the city,” said Tyler Bouwens of St. Paul, who has partnered with McKiernan at the nonprofit People Incorporated. “She would definitely do things that I wouldn’t do.”

He recalls a time when McKiernan invited a woman with an abusive boyfriend to spend the night with her. The woman subsequently moved to Duluth to join her family and work on her mental health and recovery from drug addiction. The invitation crossed professional boundaries, Bouwens said.

“But that was really what this client needed, to take a different direction in her life.”

McKiernan dedicated his fifth collection of poems, “Light Rolling Slowly Backwards,” to his homeless clients, “who often appear in his lovingly lavished poems,” a Star Tribune review published on the day of his death said.

“She was just a beautiful, incredibly articulate poet,” said Minneapolis poet Tim Nolans. “She had a way of going into things and then coming back up to the light.”

His office was the kitchen cook, despite the risk of fire, Conor said.

“She would have papers all over the stove and smoke a cigarette.”

She has written of ordinary – “the late night furnace buzz” – and dramatic experiences, including the death of her son Brian Plunkett in 2016.

“For the common grace of it all, the way the beautiful, relentless roots of the earth draw us deeper,” she wrote in a poem, “I offer blessings, praise, amazement. “

In addition to Kevin and Conor, survivors include St. Paul’s son Naoise Moe; sisters Deirdre Hetzler of Fairport, NY, Nuala Rosensteel of Aiken, SC, Grania and Gillisa McKiernan, both of St. Paul, and Liadan Lorsung of Minneapolis; brothers Brendan McKiernan of Watkinsville, Georgia, and Fergus McKiernan of Wausau, Wisconsin. A service is planned for the spring.

The great irony around the deniers of the Scottish language and Auld Lang Syne Fri, 31 Dec 2021 05:05:44 +0000 THIS year has seen what has been dubbed the Renaissance in Scottish literature, but it has also brought a renewed amount of classist and nationalist abuse against supporters of the language – myself included.

I published my first novel this year, and the only one-star reviews it received were from people who hadn’t even read the book. They were die-hard British nationalists and Scottish language deniers who accused me of trying “desperately” to take advantage of the language’s current popularity.

I was amused. It took me six years to write and publish the book, and in 2015 Scottish was nowhere near as popular as it is today.

But one aspect of the Scottish language that has enjoyed lasting popularity is Auld Lang Syne. Translated into English, it means “Old Long Since” which, as I’m sure we can all agree, doesn’t quite sound the same.

As this year draws to a close, I wonder how many people who have thrown me vitriol on myself and other Scottish speakers will enjoy a ‘richt guid willie waught’ and sing that traditional Scottish tune instantly. from midnight.

Scottish singer Iona Fyfe said of the issue: “It usually scares me when people are too happy to sing Auld Lang Syne (sometimes pronounced Zyne) but then dismiss Scottish as a fake language invented for the rest of the world. year.”

It also makes me wonder, if there was any truth in arguments like Scottish is ‘glorified slang’ or ‘broken English’, why was Auld Lang Syne never translated. in English or has it just fallen out of favor? The fact that Scots – and people of all nationalities – sing this song must say something positive about the language.

Auld Lang Syne was not even entirely written by Robert Burns, to whom it is attributed. It was originally an old Scottish folk tune. He chose to keep the Scottish lyrics after the Union of 1707 for the same reason people like me write in Scottish today.

Because Scottish is a language, and it deserves to flourish like any other, even if it is mainly oral.

This year Auld Lang Syne will be tinged with sadness for myself as I reflect on how Scottish speakers are treated today and especially creators today. The song is treated with respect, but the average Scottish speaker, especially online, is likely to troll the rest of the year, no matter how much authority he or she may have over the language. Rian O’Diomasaigh, who has a Twitter account where he shares a Word of the Day in Ulster Scottish, teaches the language.

He recently tweeted that although Scottish derives from the same common source as the Germanic languages ​​(including English), the argument that it is a dialect is tantamount to saying that Italian and L ‘Spanish are the same because they have a Latin source.

He was subsequently described as “blissfully ignorant” by one Twitter user, with another insisting he was “researching the history of Scotland”. Rian responded with a photo of his masters degree, obtained in the subject – explaining that his thesis was about how Scotland became a predominantly English-speaking country.

But diplomas aside, Auld Lang Syne is a perfect testament to the fact that Scottish and English are distinct languages ​​due to its representation in popular culture.

Rian told me: “There is a phenomenon where people who are opposed to the Scottish language in general take into account the writings of such figures as Allan Ramsay or Robert Burns.

“I think it’s because they occupy such prominent positions in the Scottish literary canon that denying their influence would seem just plain silly – even if when you look at 18th century Scottish literature and compare it to handwriting Modern Scottish, there really isn’t much of a difference.

In When Harry Met Sally, Harry, an American English speaker, says he never understood what the song meant. Sally tells him it’s a song about old friends.

This shows that Scottish is universal and that it is, like many languages, accessible to English speakers, but not entirely. Take Afrikaans, for example – this is to some extent also understandable for Dutch speakers.

Scottish deniers should therefore think twice about how they view modern uses of the language in the coming year if they will sing the song at midnight or, if they are so determined to stick with it. to their existing narrative, translate Auld Lang Syne into Old Long Since and at least keep their opinion consistent throughout the year. Emma Guinness also writes as Emma Grae and is the author of Be Guid tae Yer Mammy

Book: These “forgotten” rejections shaped by Black Allumé Wed, 29 Dec 2021 13:04:13 +0000

A new book explores how a story of rejection shaped African American literature and activism for generations to come.

While scholars have explored some of the historical periods that gave rise to contemporary African-American writing, the years leading up to the last century and immediately after 1896 are often overlooked. Plessy v. Ferguson Decision of the Supreme Court, which legalized segregation.

“I think our tendency to lump together the years 1877-1919, from the end of Reconstruction to the Harlem Renaissance, prevented us from identifying the specificity of the intervening years,” writes Professor Elizabeth McHenry, President of New York. University’s English department, in Making Black Literature: Writing, Literary Practice, and African-American Authorship (Duke University Press, 2021).

In the book, McHenry focuses on those forgotten years – from around 1896 to the first two decades of the 1900s – not because those decades marked success, but rather because it was a time of publication failure.

This is perhaps most clearly illustrated by the story of writer and activist Mary Church Terrell, one of the focal points of the book, whose challenges, according to McHenry, helped spur the success of African American writers. that we know today.

“Terrell wanted to pave the way for black writers to write fiction as the norm and for these fictional forms to become as acceptable as journalistic forms,” says McHenry.

While her journalism appeared in African-American print sources throughout the first decade of the 20th century, her archives at the Library of Congress are replete with unpublished news that she wrote and sought to publish in the nation’s elite literary magazines, ”McHenry continues in his book. “The collection also includes a discouraging series of rejection letters from the editors of these magazines which made it clear to her that she lived in a political climate that was not conducive to literary ambitions like hers.”

Yet she says these failures were “both fundamental and, as much as we regret today, also necessary.

“This body of work that I’m looking at, this body of work that includes practitioners and projects and authors and authorship as a concept, is like an infrastructure,” said McHenry, who previously wrote Forgotten Readers: Recovering the Lost History of African-American Literary Societies (Duke University Press, 2002). “It’s the backbone of Negro literature, the backbone of what we now think of as African American literature – and not the way I think a lot of people look at earlier times and say, see. : ‘It was the roots of the Harlem Renaissance.’ These are not the roots of the Harlem Renaissance. It’s something different. These are the roots of an appreciation for literature and literary culture, and a substantial audience for black literature. It is a much larger infrastructure or scaffolding for literature as we know it now.

(Note: In the introduction to the new book, McHenry writes, “To use the word ‘Negro’, as I do deliberately in this study, is to evoke a particular time when African Americans adopted the word, insisting so that its first letter is capitalized as a means both to control its meaning and to signify the recognition and respect due to people of African descent. ”).

Here McHenry talks about the book and, more specifically, how African-American writing in the post-Reconstruction era had a purpose that extended beyond the printed page:

New podcast chronicles the violent crimes of literary greats Mon, 27 Dec 2021 14:38:02 +0000

Writing about crime is something a multitude of writers have done over the years. Committing crimes, on the other hand, is somewhat less of a popular activity among the literary community. But in New York City in 1981, the lives of three writers unexpectedly converged when one stabbed a man to death. The writers were Norman Mailer, Jerzy Kosiński, and Jack Henry Abbott, and the first season of a new podcast hauntingly documents their lives and the horrors each left in their wake.

The podcast is Penknife, hosted by writers and booksellers Corey Eastwood and Santiago Lemoine, and narrated and edited by Ramona Stout. (Full disclosure: I’ve known Eastwood for several years.) Its first two episodes focus on the life of Jack Henry Abbott – most of whom was incarcerated – as well as his parole from prison and the subsequent publication of his memoir. In the belly of the beast.

What seemed like a triumph for rehabilitation and the arts quickly turned into a nightmare for everyone involved. One morning, Abbott stabbed actor and playwright Richard Adan to death in a Lower East Side cafe following a bathroom argument. From there, the scope of Penknife unfolds in several ways, tracing the literary ascents of Mailer and Kosiński – and documenting the horrific acts they committed.

“It’s cliché, but we did Penknife because that was the podcast we wanted to hear, ”Eastwood told InsideHook. “I had no interest in starting a podcast, but as a podcast listener I had literally searched Google for” books / literature / real-crime “a dozen times and had never found anything that attracted me.”

When Lemoine suggested starting a real crime podcast, Eastwood rushed to join us. As of early 2020, the two were living in detention in Valencia, Spain, which meant that much of their research was being done online. (Eastwood cites his New York Public Library map as an essential part of making the podcast a reality.) And the first season covers a wide range of media, from interview clips to reenactments of some of his life’s events. topics.

The result is often fascinating, even if it remains stimulating. Hearing Kosiński joke with David Letterman, or watching Mailer try and fail to fight feminism at a live event, is both captivating and often frightening in its implications.

The collaborators noted that Abbott’s case was what initially attracted them. “When we started looking for perpetrators for the first season, Abbott immediately stood out as a very interesting case – criminal who wrote, writer who committed crimes, abuser, victim, etc. – and his life and his crimes led us to the other two, “Lemoine explains.” We didn’t even know the full extent of Mailer and Kosiński’s criminal careers when we started looking at their biographies. “

Some of their actions are better documented than others. Mailer’s horrific attack on his wife Adele Morales in 1960 has been the subject of much writing; Lesser known are Kosiński’s crimes. That’s not to say he hasn’t done terrible things, however. There is a moment worthy of a gasp at the end of the season when the full significance of Kosiński’s actions is brought to light. As for the public perceptions of the three writers at the center of Penknife the first season, which also affected how the podcast came together.

“To be honest, I think the fact that [Mailer] is largely rightly vilified these days, it has been easier to write about him, his overrated books and bad behavior, ”Eastwood said. “We’re already working on season two, and an early issue that we ran into was that a lot of writers like Jean Genet or Miguel Piñero that we think of as subjects were actually really cool, likable people whose positive impacts on the movie. society far outweigh their negative.

The relationship between creators and their subjects is a relationship that evolved during the manufacturing process Penknife. “I was definitely the most sympathetic to Jack Henry Abbott when I finished editing and reading,” Stout says. “Jerzy Kosiński fascinated like a specimen. And I never really embraced Mailer, not even as an example of “toxic masculinity.”

“What we tried to do was paint a full picture of these complicated, imperfect and often terrible human beings in order to try to better understand: A) human nature itself, B) some of the ways we work in as a society and C) The culture and history of the United States during the second half of the 20th century, ”explains Lemoine. “It took us a lot of research and rewriting, but we hope we managed to describe it fairly and honestly.”

Warren Beatty and Jerzy Kosinski circa 1981 in New York.

Sonia Moskowitz / IMAGES / Getty Images

Talk to the creators of Penknife also involves talking about the podcast’s relationship to its genre. “When you take a close look at the narrative structure of the true crime genre, the tension of almost every story depends on portraying the author as a ‘bad person’, even when it zooms in and gives context by exploring the motivations behind it. their crimes, ”Eastwood says. “This idea of ​​violent criminals as ‘bad’ or ‘other’ is something that we try to challenge and separate in the first season.”

Whether or not this is possible remains to be seen. “[S]until our narrative relies on the same ‘bad guy’ framing as almost every other true crime podcast, ”he continues. “When you’re dealing with people whose crimes were clearly the result of poverty, racism, sexism, homophobia, or some other societal oppression (as Abbott’s could be said to have been), the perspective changes and it becomes much more difficult to maintain the tension. “

And, as Lemoine points out, Penknife makes plenty of room for the multifaceted elements of his subjects. “People are a lot of things: Mailer was one of the most public intellectuals and most respected American authors of the 20th century, and he was also a female stabber who often used physical violence to achieve his ends and churned out the most horrible opinions to put himself in the limelight, “he says.” Kosinski (part) wrote one of the most important Holocaust novels, he was funny and adorable, and he was too a violent rapist, creep, thief and plagiarist. Abbott was a murderer in cold blood, but he was also a victim, and he wrote one of the most powerful books in prison literature. People are complicated .

For now, collaborators have set up a page on Patreon and have started work on a second season. What will it be? Eastwood and Stout both said content will dictate form, rather than vice versa. “Believe it or not, there are actually quite a few writers who have committed murders,” Eastwood said. “Season two seems to be gelling around some of them.”

Lemoine added that the second season “will likely have a thematic focus, allowing us to cover more ground and explore the lives and crimes of writers around the world.” It’s confusing in its implications, but it’s also captivating and stimulating listening.

IT WAS THE DAYS: The Manikodi movement Sun, 26 Dec 2021 02:05:13 +0000 Chennai:

Poetry may be the essence of a language, but prose is its main body. Since the Sangam period, Tamil has had an unbalanced affinity with poetry. The twentieth century and especially Madras broke this noose and gave prose a chance to proliferate. The growth of prose was astronomical and for the first time attracted scholars into any family. You could even say that Tamil poetry seemed stuck in the corner of movie songs.

A major renaissance movement in the 1930s called the Manikodi Movement can be directly held responsible for the proliferation of the two prose writers. This movement only lasted six years and had an impact on the future that has left historians in wonder.

The first Tamil novel came out in 1879 and became the dominant form of reading. Disturbing historical events like the World War, the Depression, and the civil disobedience movement against the ruler have changed the sensitivity of readers. The imitation novels were not enough to satisfy the curiosities and growing interests of readers. It was then that the Tamil news that would not test the reader’s limited patience became the dominant force. Short stories were much harder to put on limited space for writers who could ramble on endlessly earlier. It was an experiment for an area in desperate need of reform, but were there enough labs to continue this trial?

Manikodi was one of them. It was a 60-page magazine supporting succinct writing – short stories and essays. The name on the masthead was a description of the national flag in a recent fiery poem by Bharathi Thayin Manikodi roughly meaning “the jeweled flag of our mothers”. Coincidentally, Kamban also mentions a Manikodi as the first thing Rama sees flying above Mithila, where the lovely Janaki was waiting for her garland.

In September 1933, the first issue of Manikodi was released. The three men who founded the magazine could not have been more different from each other. However, Chokkalingam, Srinivasan, and Ramasamy had a common bonding force: patriotism in an era of divided loyalties.

Srinivasan had worked as a Sunday Watcher in London. Chockalingam had worked in the Tamil press. Ramasamy had the gift of having been initiated into Tamil literature by Bharathi himself.

Ramasamy was a talent scout especially for writers with simple styles and was said to publish his edition, the story could be understood by rickshaw pullers in George Town. In this shadow of minimalism, writers like Mowni and Pudhumaipithan have captivated the Tamil world with realistic writing.

Ramasamy encouraged a shift to social themes by arguing that literature cannot just be a vehicle for entertainment. It should also be one for social change and upliftment. His writers took this principle to heart, and his rival Kalki even ridiculed the writers of Manikodi for taking literature too seriously.

The early years had essays espousing nationalism (political cartoons, quotes, and short stories) and an occasional short story. The early issues even had Ramayana recounted from a journalist’s pen. But with the arrival of BS Ramaiah as editor, a flood of news turned Manikodi into a literary magazine. BS Ramaiah started out as a waiter in a Madras hotel and met the founders in prison. Soon he eclipsed them all and changed Manikodi to the format he remembers today. Later, in 1982, Ramaiah received the Sahitya Academy Award for a book on the Manikodi years.

By 1935, over 100 short stories were published each year, and the Manikodi looked to the international market to choose stories to translate as well. It was as if Manikodi was responding to an audience’s insatiable thirst for prose.

Ramaiah’s legion of writers were different in their writing but socially cloned. Most had similar backgrounds and were born in the 20th century. Their camaraderie was remarkable. They forgot that they were rivals competing for the same space in history and spent time in literary discussions late into the night. They helped the magazine with the layout, and even lent a hand to the printer to pull the pedal and some even stood on street corners to sell the copies. For them, literature was a passion, and it was this collective fervor that sparked the Manikodi Movement.

It is not without controversy that this cohesive group has been able to progress. They united to fight Kalki when the latter declared that Bharathi was not a Mahakavi. Soon the debate turned into denigration. The Manikodi group questioned the authorship of Kalki’s books, accusing him of plagiarism. But it was a typical David and Goliath tale. The Manikodi struggled to sell 1,000 copies. The Anandavikadan led by Kalki easily sold 50,000.

But dreams don’t last forever. Somehow, the enthusiasm of running an upstart magazine has waned. Financial viability eluded him and soon management struggles led to Ramiah’s sacking. The closure of Manikodi was imminent. Looking back, the writers of Manikodi did not scatter like withered leaves in an autumn wind. Like life in the seeds of a pod shattering in the summer rain, they have planted themselves in every corner of the print world and enriched the literary landscape of Madras.

– The writer is a historian and author