Happy 100th Birthday Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Lawrence Ferlinghetti, poet, painter, activist, and co-founder of City Lights Booksellers & Publishers turned 100 years old today.

Ferlinghetti is maybe best known for “A Coney Island of the Mind” and as publisher of the beat poets, which included being arrested for publishing Allen Ginsberg’s Howl and the ensuing First Ammendment trial.

My favorite work of his is the little book Poetry As Insurgent Art which a good friend gifted me a few years ago.
A few of my favorite quotes:

  • “The state of the world calls out for poetry to save it.”
  • “Haunt bookstores.”
  • “Think long thoughts in short sentences.”
  • “Don’t ever believe poetry is irrelevant in dark times.”

Image: Christopher Michel, CC BY 2.0

The Oscars Love Racial Reconciliation Movies.

Wesley Morris sums up the problem with Oscar-winning movies like The Green Book for the New York Times:

The money is ostensibly for legitimate assistance, but it also seems to paper over all that’s potentially fraught about race. The relationship is entirely conscripted as service and bound by capitalism and the fantastically presumptive leap is, The money doesn’t matter because I like working for you. And if you’re the racist in the relationship: I can’t be horrible because we’re friends now. That’s why the hug Sandra Bullock gives Yomi Perry, the actor playing her maid, Maria, at the end of “Crash,” remains the single most disturbing gesture of its kind. It’s not friendship. Friendship is mutual. That hug is cannibalism.

Toni Morrison on Embracing Failure as Information

It’s as though you’re in a laboratory and you’re working on an experiment with chemicals or with rats, and it doesn’t work. It doesn’t mix. You don’t throw up your hands and run out of the lab. What you do is you identify the procedure and what went wrong and then correct it. If you think of [writing] simply as information, you can get closer to success.

Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison turns 88 on Monday.

Her new essay collection, The Source of Self-Regard, was released last week in Germany and I can’t wait to delve in.

Image: Angela Radulescu, cc-by-sa 2.0

Kaveh Akbar on Poetry

We have to say it in a way that will delight the ear or the tongue or the mind of a reader who will never know us. It’s the only way in. And to do that, we have to be capable of imagining that reader, imagining them wholly, gassy and distracted by their phone and worried about the news and late to pick up their son from ballet.

Kaveh Akbar in conversation with Danez Smith for Granta. Both poets are shortlisted for the Forward Prizes for Poetry 2018.

Photo: Birbiglebug/CC BY-SA 4.0

“Do You Favor the Country Becoming More Politically Correct?” Is Not a Neutral Question

A recent NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll and the connected article results in what they call a “warning for Democrats: Americans are largely against the country becoming more politically correct.” The question in the poll, like the framing of the article, is.. odd.The full question is:

“In general, are you in favor of the United States becoming more politically correct and like when people are being more sensitive in their comments about others, or are you against the country becoming more politically correct and upset that there are too many things people can’t say anymore?”

Asma Khalid called this a good definition of politcal correctness in the most recent episode of the NPR Politics podcast. I don’t think so. The question is neitehr a fitting definition of politcal correctness nor a neutral one, but rather a definition that at the very least leans towards the use of the term “political correctness” as a right-wing fighting word. It connects “politcal correctness” to censorship.

Not using certain words and supporting certain concepts isn’t about censorship, it’s about not continuing to hurt people.

“I had not been prepared for the simple charm of watching someone you love grow. “

So far the most surprising, beautiful sentence in Ta-Nehisi Coates’ We Were Eight Years in Power. It’s about his wife and part of one of the meta-essays that introduce his previously published essays in this collection. Some have aged better than others, but the meta-essays alone are worth the read alone. Man, that guy can write.

The Point of Michelle Wolf’s WHCD Monologue

Comedians You Should Know in Brooklyn Sept21 2016

On-point analysis of Michelle Wolf’s speech roast at the White House Correspondents Dinner by Rhonda Garelick at The Cut:

 Yes, it’s a sexist epithet, using a slur against women (“bitch”) to equate feminine behavior with inadequacy. But beyond that lay Wolf’s greater point: The White House currently resembles a misogynist dystopia, but the press has some complicity in this. The press complains, but they return again and again to that briefing room, asking questions as if they might ever get a straight answer, as if this were a normal White House that hadn’t declared the free press “an enemy of the people.” And so, in level four of her insult sequence, Michelle Wolf directed her comedic firepower not at her ostensible target, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, but at every member of her audience.

“Fact-Checking – An Effective Weapon Against Misinformation?”

Over on the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings’ blog, Jude Dineley writes about possibilities of fact-checking:

The rise of the fact-check is partly a response to the deluge of misinformation accompanying the internet and social media: never before could dubious claims be shared so easily, widely and quickly.

Fact-checking is also, however, a chance to document issues more thoroughly than in routine news reporting. An important goal of journalists is to cover all points of view to maintain impartiality. However this, along with increasingly under-resourced newsrooms and tight deadlines, can ironically result in false balance and misleading coverage. Coverage of climate change is a classic example.