Timely Internet Archive resources about Martin Luther King; a Lenten Writing Contest at Catholic Literary Arts; two reviews by Joshua Hren—on George Saunders nonfiction and Balzac fiction books; a third review, of Pilgrimages by Andrew Calis, a young poet who eschews free verse; and a fourth review, by JC Scharl on the work of Geoffrey Hill, a major poet and critic of the 20th and 21st centuries.
Timely Resources About Martin Luther King, Social Justice, and the Civil Rights Movement, and More
During this time of increased urgency to overcome prejudices against black African Americans, and during this week that began with Martin Luther King Day, the following resources at the Internet Archive may be of special interest to teachers and parents and anyone seeking to understand more about the fraught history of interracial relations in this country. The following is from an announcement from the archive.
“If you’re interested in reading more on the African-American experience, you can also check out the #1000BlackGirlBooks collection collection and the Zora Canon. Other resource guides include Antiracist & Racial Equality Reading Lists and Racial Equality Books for Kids. Finally, through the Community Webs program, our partners at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture created the #HashtagSyllabusMovement web archive collection, which contains crowdsourced reading lists highlighting social justice issues within the Black community—a good place to start if you’re looking for antiracist reading material.”
As we approach the Liturgical season of Lent, let us ‘walk with Christ,’ then share those reflections in poetry or prose.
“We are eager to read your unpublished poetry and prose on the meaning of Walking with Christ during Lent, a season culminating in the Resurrection.”—Catholic Literary Arts
The contest closes at midnight Sunday, February 7, 2021. Five pieces of writing will be chosen (one first prize winner and four honorable mentions). Winners will be announced on Monday, February 15, 2021. The celebration and reading of winning pieces will be on Zoom, Tuesday, February 23, 2021. For more information, go to the link in the heading.
Katy Carl, Dappled Things Editor in Chief, suggested this review by Joshua Hren at First Things of A Swim in a Pond in the Rain: In Which Four Russians Give a Master Class on Writing, Reading, and Life by George Saunders.
Natalie Morrill, Fiction Editor, seconded the recommendation writing, “A fave on a fave.”
What I find interesting is something Hren doesn’t dwell on in his knowledgeable review, that Saunders has written A Swim in a Pond in the Rain out of his experiences teaching accomplished young writers at Syracuse University, to “help them achieve what I call their ‘iconic space’—the place from which they will write the stories only they could write.”
Another Joshua Hren review recommended by Katy Carl, this one is published at Law & Liberty. Below is a resonant observation of the power of “news”:
Balzac’s observations on journalism are pessimistic but penetrating; although ‘news’ was in its infancy, he is keen to its fundamental causes and its frightening sovereignty. Claude Vignon, a prolific article-maker and colleague of Lucien, anticipates Nietzsche’s observation that the newspaper will replace prayer—the ephemeral will eclipse the eternal. The newspaper, surpassing the ‘role of the priest,’ can ‘make its readers believe anything it wants to. Then nothing it dislikes’ can possibly be correct, ‘and it is never wrong.’ A paper—the people ‘in folio form’—’will serve up its own father raw, or seasoned only with the salt of its witticisms, rather than fail to entertain or amuse its public.’
Katy Carl also recommends this review by Sophia Feingold of Andrew Calis’ Pilgrimages at National Catholic Register, and Bernardo Aparicio, DT Founder and Publisher, likes the suggestion.
“As for beauty — beautiful songs are still written — but those who speak most persistently about the beautiful are also, frequently, those who seem to find it chiefly in the old. Beauty, after all, depends in part upon the form, and that most modern of ‘forms,’ free verse, is supposed to have no form at all.
“But there is a school of modern poetry that has not in fact abandoned form altogether. One does not need to go to Shakespeare for a sonnet, or Tennyson for rhyme:
A fight was in the air before the first
fist, when knife-sharp words were flying. We hunted
for predators, tooth-bared faces, cursing
in their heads, their unstained skin youth-stunted.
“That is the first quatrain of “Breaking Up a Fight at School,” one of several sonnets in Pilgrimages.”
Geoffrey Hill and language’s power to wound and heal
Ann Thomas, DT’s new Managing Editor, writes, “If you are taking suggestions for Friday Links, I’d like to pass one on. JC Scharl’s poetry appears in Mary Queen of Angles 2020, and she has a brilliant post [linked above] up this week through her newsletter.”
Choosing a Hill poem to include here was difficult. Please go to the Poetry Foundation and read many more of them, if you are so inclined, or pick up “The Triumph of Love” for a mighty challenge.”—JC Scharl