Tag Archives: literary life

Writing Wednesday: There Will Be Twerking at Brooklyn Book Festival

4 Sep

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It may not be the VMAs, but the Brooklyn Book Festival isn’t your mother’s book club. The festival announced its schedule of events last week, and, yes, there will be twerking … or rather, the author of TwERK, LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs, will be on the panel Poetry in Performance. Here’s TwERK‘s overview, in case you aren’t familiar with it:

TWERK unveils an identity shaped by popular media and history, code switching and cultural inclusivity. The poems, songs, and myths in this long-awaited first book are as rooted in lyric as in innovation, in Black music as in macaronic satire. TWERK evokes paradox, humor, and vulnerability, and it offers myriad avenues fueled by language, idiom, and vernacular. This book asks only that we imagine America as it has always existed, an Americana beyond the English language.

“Here it is: a dope jam of dictions; a remixed, multicultural, polyphonic dance of vocabularies; a language of high stakes, hi-jinx, and hybridity. TWERK is subversive, vulnerable, and volatile. TwERK twists tongues. TwERK tweaks speech. Reading these amazing poems mostly makes me say, Wow! Open your ears to take this music in, open your mouth to say it out loud. And: Wow!”—Terrance Hayes

The Poetry in Performance panel will also feature Tyehimba Jess (leadbelly), Taylor Mali (The Last Time As We Are), and Quincy Troupe (ErranCities) and is moderated by Mary Gannon of the Academy of American Poets.

Performance has long been an essential part of poetry. The great ancient epics were told through oral storytelling or sung. It’s believed that Homer’s The Odyssey, for example, was brought to life by a professional performer known as a rhapsode, who improvised according to his audience.

Readings expose works to new audiences. They can make the words on a page feel more personal as the audience hears the intonation of the author’s voice and connects with him or her.

Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl” stands on its own as a great poem, but hearing him read it aloud makes it that much more powerful.

It’s sometimes been said, though, that writers are their own worst readers. This is because writing and performing are two very different skill sets.

Some poets love open mics and performing their works, but not all do. Many introspective writers envisioned a life of sitting alone in a room with a cup of steaming hot coffee as their fingers flew over a typewriter; not a life shuttling from bookstore to coffeehouses to give readings to bored patrons. Yet, many authors today are told to give readings, appear on radio shows, and sell their work.

The blogs have been abuzz about Miley Cyrus’ twerking at the VMAs, and some, like Pakalert Press, have blamed her handlers, like her father, Billy Ray Cyrus, did a few years ago. We like to think of poetry performance as being on a higher plane, but, to play devil’s advocate, is it always so different? Isn’t performance just another form of marketing?

Is the proliferation of burlesque poetry an example of literary twerking? Are these female poets subverting expectations or unwittingly playing into them? Does slam improve one’s improvisation and literary techniques or has it simply become its own cliche style? Must a writer give into the agent/publicist/handler’s pressure to perform his or her work to succeed in today’s literary landscape?

 

More Writing Wednesday posts here.

 

 

 

 

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Sweet Ride: Penguin Book Truck

30 May

Talk about a sweet ride! Look what I spotted at BookExpo America:

Penguin

That’s the Penguin Book Truck. Here’s Penguin’s press release on it:

Penguin Group (USA) Launches The Penguin Book Truck And Pushcart

NEW YORK, May 28, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — Penguin Group (USA) announced today the launch of its first mobile bookstore: the Penguin Book Truck and the Penguin Book Pushcart.  Inspired by the long tradition of the library book mobile and the recent popularity of food trucks, this mobile bookstore is the perfect way to bring authors and books directly to readers.

The Penguin Book Truck and Penguin Book Pushcart will make their debut on May 30th at New York’s Javits Center during the Book Expo of America.  The Penguin Book Pushcart will be at the Delecorte Theater in New York City’s Central Park for performances at the 2013 season of Shakespeare in the Park.  The Penguin Book Truck and Pushcart will also visit the American Library Association Conference in Chicago, ” Tom Sawyer Day ” at the Mark Twain house in Hartford, CT and numerous other bookstores, festivals, library events and author signings throughout the year.  In October, in conjunction with the National Steinbeck Center’s kickoff of the 75th Anniversary of the publication of John Steinbeck ‘s Pulitzer Prize-winning The Grapes of Wrath, (published by Penguin) the Penguin Book Truck will travel West on Route 66 from Oklahoma to California, following the route of the fictional Joad Family and stopping at numerous museums, universities and historical sites along the way.

The Penguin Book Truck and Pushcart will stock books from all Penguin Group imprints and include a wide selection of titles by authors ranging from Patricia Cornwell to John Green , Elizabeth Gilbert to Khaled Hosseini , Nate Silver to Sylvia Day as well as Penguin Classics. The selection will also be customized for individual events.

Susan Petersen Kennedy , President of Penguin Group (USA), said: “We think the Penguin Book Truck and Pushcart will allow us to, directly and in partnership with bookstores, connect writers with readers and to spread the iconic Penguin brand in fun and exciting new ways. This will be a movable feast of today’s great books.”

Featuring Penguin’s iconic orange logo the Penguin Book Truck is 27 feet long with 96 linear feet of bookshelves on both sides. The truck is LED lit for nighttime events, has awnings to protect shoppers from the elements, and cafe tables and chairs where browsers can sit and authors can sign books.

The Penguin Book Pushcart is inspired by the design of the classic New York City hotdog cart.  It will be transported by the Penguin Book Truck to various locations including bookstores, parks, beaches, sidewalks in shopping districts, summer theaters, and green markets.

To learn more, view photos and follow the schedule of the Penguin Book Truck and Pushcart, you can visit them online at www.penguinbooktruck.com or follow them on twitter @PenguinBookTruck or on facebook at www.facebook.com/PenguinBookTruck.

About Penguin Group (USA)

Penguin Group (USA) Inc. is the U.S. member of the internationally renowned Penguin Group. Penguin Group (USA) is one of the leading U.S. adult and children’s trade book publishers, owning a wide range of imprints and trademarks, including Viking, G. P. Putnam ‘s Sons, The Penguin Press, Riverhead Books, Dutton, Penguin Books, Berkley Books , Gotham Books , Portfolio, New American Library, Plume, Tarcher, Philomel, Grosset & Dunlap, Puffin, and Frederick Warne , among others. The Penguin Group (www.penguin.com) is part of Pearson plc, the international media company.

Wish I could hitch a ride to Tom Sawyer Day and of course get my kicks on Route 66 to celebrate the 75th anniversary of John Steinbeck‘s novel!

Books and road tripping? Jack Kerouac would be proud. Hm… maybe they’ll let me take a cross-country trip on the Penguin Book Truck when Burning Furiously Beautiful comes out. An author can dream….

My first thought, though, when I heard about the Penguin Book Truck was that it reminded me of a book I had edited come to life:

Parnassus

Christopher Morley’s Parnassus on Wheels.

 

 

Happy 144th Birthday, Bertram Goodhue!

28 Apr

 

American architect Bertram Goodhue was born on this day in 1869.  I went Church Hopping to the Church of the Intercession in Washington Heights and St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in Midtown,  two churches he co-designed in New York.

Extra! Extra! Read all about it!  In 1896, Goodhue designed a typeface for Cheltenham Press.  Called Cheltenham, the typeface is the one used for the headline for The New York Times.

 

Writing Wednesday: Writing from a Brothel

6 Feb

Dear Mom and Dad,

I’m going to go live in a brothel now. Don’t worry — just as the landlord. William Faulkner told me to.

PS: Sorry for robbing you and drinking all your whiskey. I’m just trying to be a good writer.

xoxo.

 

Note: This is completely fictional. But, Faulkner’s 1956 interview poses an interesting question: What is the best type of job for a writer to hold to earn some income while working on a book?

Gripster: Tina Fey Ate “Old Balls”

23 Feb

While writing for Saturday Night Live, everyone’s favorite Gripster Tina Fey ate a lot of disgusting food in the wee hours of the night, according to Grub StreetThe grossest?  Old meatballs from Carmines.

The Grub Street article points to the obvious fact that those of us who stay up late, writing at our desks, probably eat pretty poorly.  I’ve never been to Carmines, and I don’t eat meatballs anymore, but my sister makes fun of me because I often eat leftover pasta without bothering to heat it up.