The poetry and brief life of a Foxconn worker: Xu Lizhi (1990-2014) is an article about a 24-year old Chinese assembly line worker and poet who committed suicide last month. He worked for the electronics manufacturer which makes products for a range of companies, including Sony, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and Nintendo. The post includes Chinese originals and English translations of Xu Lizhi's poems. His death and poetry have garnered much attention, such as these blogposts from The Wall Street Journal and The London Review of Books.
Maggie Estep, the writer-poet-performance artist and all-around cool person who came to some fame while living in the East Village in the early 1990s, has died. After suffering a massive heart attack on Monday, Estep died at age 50. Before publishing her first novel, Maggie worked as a horse groom, a go-go dancer, a dishwasher, a nurse’s aide, and a box factory worker. She initially received national attention in the 1990s, when MTV covered the spoken-word movement on an all-poetry episode of "Unplugged." [more inside]
The poet Seamus Heaney has died aged 74. "There's a summons in those first words; they're like a tuning fork": a long interview from 1997. Metafilter's 70th birthday celebration. Some poems. [more inside]
The poet Jayne Cortez passed away this past December 28th in New York City (New York Times obituary). She started publishing her poems in the late 1960s and in the 70s began performing her poetry backed by music, first in collaboration with bassist Richard Davis, and then backed by her own band The Firespitters. Some of their tracks have found their way to YouTube: I See Chano Pozo, If the Drum Is a Woman, There It Is, Maintain Control & Economic Love Song I, Everybody Wants to Be Somebody, Takin' the Blues Back Home, Talk to Me (for Don Cherry), I've Been Searching, You Can Be and Endangered Species List Blues. Just two years ago she performed solo with her son by Ornette Coleman, drummer Denardo Coleman: Find Your Own Voice, I'm Gonna Shake and She Got He Got. In 1997 she was featured on University of California television network in the series Artists on the Cutting Edge where she read poems and discussed her work. Finally, here's a brief clip from the 1982 documentary Poetry in Motion, where she was interviewed.
Acclaimed New Zealand children's and young adult's book author Margaret Mahy died in Christchurch yesterday aged 76. [more inside]
"Almost everything I do is based on other texts anyway. Without plagiarism, there would be no literature. I'm a rewrite man." The poet Christoper Logue has died, aged 85. Logue had a varied career, at various points serving in the British Army (and being arrested for espionage after a drunken threat to sell secrets), writing pornography under the nom de plume Count Palmiro de Vicarion, recording George Martin-produced, "heroically daft" jazz recitals of the poems of Pablo Neruda (YT) and regularly contributing to the British satirical magazine Private Eye, where he edited Pseuds' Corner, while finding the time to be arrested again, for civil disobedience as part of Bertrand Russell's Committee of 100. [more inside]
Rest in peace, Simon Vinkenoog [Dutch blog w/English option], poet, friend of artists like Karel Appel, translator of Beat Generation figures like Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac, psychedelic enthusiast and "weed ambassador" of Amsterdam, and author of such guides to hip living as How to Enjoy Reality. One of the European jazz-loving proto-hippies who made the '60s swing and mentored several generations of culture hackers, though he was never widely known in the US.
"Why don't you write me a poem that will prepare me for your death?" Hayden Carruth's wife, thirty years his junior, asked him. He did so, and it became one of his most popular poems. Carruth, who celebrated his 87th birthday last month died last night at his home in Munnsville New York. Carruth was the winner of the the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award for his poetry collection Scrambled Eggs and Whiskey. He edited Poetry magazine from 1949-1950 and was a poetry editor at Harpers. [more inside]
Remembering the amazingly mature poetry of Mattie Stepanek: national goodwill ambassador with muscular dystrophy, and 13 year old prodigal wordsmith.
Janet Frame, New Zealand writer, is dead at 79. More information about her life, here, and obituary notice here. Nominated for the Nobel Prize for Fiction last year, I had hoped she might yet win. RIP.