"New" Poems by Langston Hughes

One of the poems that left a deep impression on me way back in high school was Langston Hughes’s “A Dream Deferred” (that’s how I’ve always remembered its title, but I’m seeing it listed online as both “A Dream Deferred” and “Harlem”–can anyone help me understand that?).

So I was very interested to discover, in the latest issue of Poetry magazine (and thankfully published online), that a rare books cataloger at Yale University recently unearthed three Hughes poems, all of which are seeing their first known publication now. Read Arnold Rampersad’s explanatory article, which contains links to all three poems, too.

Friday Find: Andrew’s Book Club

(OK, so I’m a little disorganized this week–I forgive myself! You weren’t meant to have the pleasure of reading this post until tomorrow (Friday), but we all make mistakes; all of our mistakes should be this “serious.” Enjoy, and have a good weekend!)

Oprah’s got competition! Andrew Scott is a fiction writer who thinks that short story collections deserve a lot more attention than they receive (and don’t we agree?). But Andrew is doing something about it. Something good.

Here’s the reasoning, in Andrew’s own words:

Each month, I select two short story collections that readers and writers of short stories should support. The idea is simple. We should buy short story collections and support this important art form, especially if we’re writers and ever hope to publish our own books of short stories. But if I buy Antonya Nelson’s new collection and you buy the new Jim Shepard book of stories, and our friend Sally buys Knockemstiff by Donald Ray Pollock (soon in paperback!) and your mom buys Cathy Day’s The Circus in Winter, then the publishing numbers are scattered all over the place.

Move over, Oprah. I’m taking over. You do a fine job. I’m glad you’re back to selecting living writers for your book club. But you haven’t chosen a book of stories, to my knowledge, so I’m asking you to step aside. I’m sure you’re relieved.

Andrew has announced the first two selections (check his site to find out what they are!), and like a nice, obedient, new club member, I’ve already purchased one of them (one I was definitely planning to read, but probably would have waited for the library to offer me, to be perfectly honest). I love Andrew’s dedication and enthusiasm, and I really want to see where this project may go.

(By the way, I discovered Andrew’s Book Club thanks to the wonderful folks at Fiction Writers Review, who are also certainly doing their share to serve the short story.)

The Wednesday Web Browser: Jim Shepard on Historical Fiction, Lisa Romeo on Beginnings, and My Machberet Update

Jim Shepard shares insights on writing fiction that works with “historical or real events.” Good, solid stuff there. (Thanks to Luna Park for the link.)
Take a few moments to read Lisa Romeo’s smile-and-chuckle-inducing take on the challenges of “beginnings” right here.
Over on My Machberet (“machberet” being the Hebrew word for “notebook”), I’ve recently posted about the Sydney Taylor Book Awards, a call to hear from Jewish women writers, and an opportunity to publish film reviews on Nextbook (warning–that’s not a paying gig, as far as I can tell, but there IS a non-cash grand prize for the “best” review). If you haven’t visited My Machberet in awhile (or ever), I invite and encourage you to do so. But please be forewarned that it’s my refuge from contentiousness and the dialogues des sourds I encounter too many other places. It is unabashedly pro-Israel.

I’ve had a really hard couple of weeks, so please, I beg you, do not post anti-Israel comments there (or here). I simply will not approve them. Believe me, I know what all the anti-Israel arguments are these days. It’s extremely unlikely anyone can tell me something I haven’t already read/heard, and it’s basically impossible that you’ll change my mind on this one.

Please remember that these blogs are my very own virtual living rooms: They’re my parties, and I’ll maintain the tenor that I want to. Todah rabah/thank you, and I hope those of you with particularly Jewish literary and cultural interests will nonetheless stop on by.

In Praise of Natalie Wexler

You know what happens when you revisit the site of a good friend who writes? You are even more impressed with your friend’s grasp of writing (and other matters), and you feel even luckier that this person is your friend. That’s what happened to me a few days ago when I checked in with my pal (from a shared Iowa Summer Writing Festival workshop more than a decade ago), Natalie Wexler.

Natalie, an essayist and an historical novelist, has posted an archive of excellent original columns on her site. The pieces stretch back to August 2007, and are sure to interest anyone interested in the following topics: self-publishing; the early history of the Supreme Court (one of Natalie’s particular fields of expertise and a subject central to her novel, A More Obedient Wife); writing about “bit players in history”; researching one’s historical fiction; and much more.

And to hear even more about/from Natalie, read our own archived interview from 2007.

Friday Find: Featured Resources for Practicing Writers

Over on my Web site, you’ll find a “Resources” page designed to assist practicing fictionists, poets, and writers of creative nonfiction. A considerable chunk of the page is devoted to a chronological listing of the resources spotlighted in each month’s Practicing Writer newsletter. The newsletter will soon celebrate its fifth birthday, so I think this is a good time to remind you of the years’ worth of “finds” you can peruse via a single screen. Enjoy, and have a wonderful weekend.