As with anything in this world, excess is excess, but inadequate is inadequate. A writer must know when the weight of the words used to describe a scene is bearing down on the scene itself. A writer should develop the measuring tape to know when to describe characters' thoughts in long sentences and when not to. But a writer, above all, should aim to achieve artistry with language which, like the painter, is the only canvas we have. Writers should realize that the novels that are remembered, that become monuments, would in fact be those which err on the side of audacious prose, that occasionally allow excess rather than those which package a story — no matter how affecting — in inadequate prose.Chigozie Obioma for The Millions: The Audacity of Prose.
Experimental Writing Seminar: Constraints & Collaborations. In addition to setting out a few dozen writing exercises, the online syllabus for an introductory course taught by Charles Bernstein (poet and co-editor of L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E) links to a variety of poems, poetry generators, and prose experiments on the web. [more inside]
“an atlas of a specific luxury” (regarding five white male humans i witnessed swiping right repeatedly on the app “tinder” in californian-american public throughout the year 2014) by tim rogers
Like cheesy 3D animation and PornHub comments? Here you go!
Today, VIDA (Women in Literary Arts) published their annual VIDA count, breaking down the treatment of women in literature in 2012 and the past three years of trends.
Frog Peak Music has a number of interesting publications UNBOUND for your perusal. Highlights include Divisions of the Tetrachord by John Chalmers, The Early Works of James Tenney by Larry Polansky and Prose Collection by Christian Wolff.
Coyote Man, Mr. President & the Gunfighters. A prose poem, written by Gary Snyder, that should be required reading for whoever is in the White House on January 20.
"In this column I want to look at a not uncommon way of writing and structuring books. This approach, I will argue, involves the writer announcing at the outset what he or she will be doing in the pages that follow."
The First World Problems Rap (SLYT)
Bad (and some so bad they're good) excerpts from bad romance novels. Includes things like: "And as he ground sinuously against her tender flesh, she began to quake and contract, whimpering with tortured delight. Her senses exploded; her very body seemed to dissolve into a fierce, white-hot blast of elemental heat. And in that boundless, exploding star of pleasure she felt his essence mingle with hers as he buried his face in her hair and erupted, pouring his passion into her soft, responsive frame."
"Maxims and axioms are, just like summaries, the work that spirited people do, it seems, for the use of mediocre or lazy spirits." Presenting maxims, axioms and more from the Philosophes: Vauvenargues! Chamfort! Fontenelle! La Bruyère! Galiani! La Rochefoucauld! Saint-Évremond! [more inside]
While the rest of Europe was expressing itself mainly in the medium of poetry1, focused largely on romantic exploits of the aristocracy, the people of early Iceland were trying something different. At the Icelandic Saga Database you can read of the explots of the late Viking era, in Icelandic or English translation. If you seek a more direct experience, you can view scans of original collections at Saganet. [more inside]
On the Monster Hour, there was this monster that used to come out and try to kill everyone in the audience. No one would expect it, not even the producers who were told by the monster he would play a few blues tunes on the piano.Surrealism done right, by Zachary Schomburg. [more inside]
As a belated tribute (of sorts) to Victoria Day, may you find interest in a variety of Victorina era literature, short and long. In the short category, there is Chit-Chat of Humor, Wit, and Anecdote (Edited by Pierce Pungent; New York: Stringer & Townsend (1857), who has written quite a bit of such work) [via mefi projects], and Conundrums New and Old (Collected by John Ray Frederick; J. Drake & Company Publishers Chicago, 1902) [via mefi projects] This publishing house also published The Art of Characturing, copyright 1941. If you prefer your antiquated humor with a twist, take a gander at bizarro version of Conundrums New and Old [via mefi projects]. In the category of longer works, behold the The Lost Novels of Victorian New Zealand [via an older mefi projects]. [more inside]
Happy Birthday, Anne Carson! The iconoclastic modern poet who published the arresting, compulsively readable Autobiography of Red turned 57 this weekend. [more inside]
Everyone's favorite pro se plaintiff, Jonathan Lee Riches, whose complaints have previously graced Metafilter's front page, has filed a sexual harassment lawsuit [pdf] against Eliot Spitzer. [more inside]
John Rawls gives six reasons why baseball is the best of all games. Marianne Moore's "Baseball & Writing." John Updike's "Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu." [more inside]
It's common for pro se prisoners to sue unusual defendants, but never before have I seen a list of defendants [pdf] so awe-inspiring. Francois Rabelais would truly be proud. Unfortunately, this particular prisoner's follow up lawsuit against Atlanta Falcons Quarterback Michael Vick isn't nearly so entertaining.
Bad Writing = Good Writing? The academic journal Philosophy and Literature used to hold a "Bad Writing Contest" to ridicule dense, unreadable academic prose... but a new book argues headache inducing sentences are necessary to express subtle theoretical points.
Why Isn't Evelyn Waugh The Most Popular Great Writer On Earth? It's his centenary this year and it's time to ask why such an irrefutably superb prose stylist - after Samuel Beckett, I rate him last century's funniest and most perceptive tragicomic writer, the best since Dr. Johnson - is still not as widely known and loved as his work deserves? Is it because he was so utterly reactionary and misanthropic, as brought out by this adorable BBC interview? After all, other far more reactionary writers, such as Ezra Pound, Fernando Pessoa, Gottfried Benn, Georg Trakl, T.S. Eliot, Wallace Stevens, William Carlos Williams, Allan Tate or Philip Larkin are, arguably, more widely read today than Waugh is. Which brings me to my question: are poets forgiven their ideological trespasses far more than is the case with novelists and essayists? Why? Isn't this one of the most unfortunate - and unfair! - consequences of today's outrageously politically correct culture? I fear so. And hate so, too! [A little more on Evelyn Waugh inside... ]