My favorite books published in 2017 include Nina Riggs’ stunning and beautiful memoir written in her last living days, The Bright Hour; Kanishk Tharoor’s imaginative story collection, Swimmer Among the Stars; Hala Alyan’s expansively drawn novel depicting generations of displacement and discovery, Salt Houses; Zeina Hashem Beck’s second full-length poetry collection that sings with power and urgency, Louder than Hearts; and Melissa Febos’ lyric, layered memoir, Abandon Me.
One Hundred Years of the Hogarth Press
In a 1917 letter to a family friend, Virginia Woolf announced a new endeavor with her husband, Leonard: “We have bought our Press! We don’t know how to work it, but now I must find some young novelists or poets. Do you know any?”
Recent memoirs on death and dying offer profound insights for the living, from Edwidge Danticat’s comprehensive new book, The Art of Death, to more intimate accounts of facing death first-hand, such as Nina Riggs’ The Bright Hour and Cory Taylor’s Dying: A Memoir.
If, like me, you’ve been haunted by headlines and images of people risking all to flee desperate conditions in the Middle East, perhaps you might want to understand more — Who are they, What are their stories, their motivations, their fates? The second of my Ploughshares blogs discusses three novels that take us there, into the heart of the migration crisis and the lives of individuals caught up in it.
In my first blog post for the journal Ploughshares, I explore Kanishk Tharoor’s radio series, “The Museum of Lost Objects,” and his luminous story collection, Swimmer Among the Stars. In both, Tharoor’s stories remind us of the power of empathy and connection in our shared experience and the need for imagination, even playfulness, in times of adversity.
Sometimes the best thing I can do to improve a poem is to loosen my grip on it. It sounds a bit counterintuitive, but if you tie up every loose end, if you scrub all the strangeness and wildness out of it, you can revise the life right out of a poem if you’re not careful. You can put its light out.
(more of Maggie Smith’s wise words here on Diane Locward’s Poetry Newsletter)