All posts filed under: Literature

Headline Rhymes

Have you heard ’bout the horrible hate crime? A TV star is beat up by two white guys But the whole thing turns whack When the white guys turn black And YOU are racist for not buyin’ Views on the news, delivered so smooth. This week’s inspired by the confusing story of Jussie Smollett as it continues to unspool. As it does, perhaps sober thinking about race is in order:  Racism and Underdetermination by Evidence The Racism Treadmill Click for last week’s edition. And for more Headline Rhymes, follow along on Twitter @grahamverdon Do you have a Headline Rhyme? Take a stab in the Comments Section below.  Sentiments are not necessarily shared by everyone at Quillette.

High Theory and Low Seriousness

Sixty years ago today, just as Henderson the Rain King was going to print, Saul Bellow penned an article for the New York Times in which he warned against the perils of deep reading. Paying too close attention to hidden meanings and obscure symbols takes all the fun from reading, he wrote. The serious reader spends an inordinate amount of energy trying to find profound representations in the most trivial of details. “A travel folder signifies Death. Coal holes represent the Underworld. Soda crackers are the Host. Three bottles of beer are—it’s obvious.” Moreover, deep reading is such an imprecise game that numerous dull and contradictory interpretations arise from the same passage. “Are you a Marxist? Then Herman Melville’s Pequod in Moby Dick can be a factory, Ahab the manager, the crew the working class. Is your point of view religious? The Pequod sailed on Christmas morning, a floating cathedral headed south. Do you follow Freud or Jung? Then your interpretations may be rich and multitudinous.” One man, Bellow wrote, had volunteered an explanation of Moby Dick as Ahab’s mad quest to overcome …

Poetic Injustice and Performative Outrage

On February 13, after almost a two month delay due to the U.S. government shutdown, the National Endowment for the Arts finally announced its recipients for the 2019 Creative Writing Fellowship in poetry. For most of the winners, this was an occasion to celebrate on social media. But for Rachel Custer, the elation of finally being able to announce the prestigious grant (one of 35 out of nearly 1700 applicants) came with the dreadful anticipation of the outrage that would (and did) predictably follow. This was nothing new for her. Last summer, when Anders Carlson-Wee proudly announced the publication of his new poem, “How-To,” on Facebook, Custer was at home in rural Northern Indiana, watching as controversy erupted online. “I felt that sick feeling in my stomach,” she says, as the initial joy of Carlson-Wee’s post got quickly sucked out with each hateful comment he received. “I knew so well from the many times I read similar threads about myself. And I just felt immensely bad for him, and so disdainful of anybody who would say …

Headline Rhymes

The Oscars without any host? That’s like avocado without any toast Or an eWoke with no one to roast Or a VIP with no dick pic to post Views on the news, delivered so smooth. Click for last week’s edition. And for more Headline Rhymes, follow along on Twitter @grahamverdon Do you have a Headline Rhyme? Take a stab in the Comments Section below.  Sentiments are not necessarily shared by everyone at Quillette.

Headline Rhymes

One Halloween I wanted to be Lando Calrissian My mom said, son, it’s time for some listening She said, you are white and Calrissian’s black I said, I figured that out a while back I told her my black friend was gonna be Skywalker She said that was different and things turned awkward She explained how we all didn’t always live free I said, okay, how ’bout I dress as Apollo Creed? She said, you’re not getting it, go talk to your father I threw on a Yoda mask ’cause I couldn’t be bothered I’m much older now, and maybe a little wiser But I think I could still use a costume adviser Can we don the outfit of a black film star As long as our faces stay the colour they are? Can my son play a hero from the film Black Panther? I don’t know if anyone has a definitive answer I’ll continue to read up on the latest rules I hope that by next year Calrissian is cool Views on the news, …

Headline Rhymes

Ever since the media was triggered by that smirk I realized my superpower; I can sniff out every jerk At the playground I saw a 5-year-old smiling on a slide And I knew in just one instant he is supercilious and snide This morning I saw a baby boy, smiling, fast asleep It was obvious by the curl of his lips he’s a bloody creep My special gift is boundless and it continues to grow At my daughter’s school just now I spied eight grinning shits in a row This smiling expecting mother? I have zero doubt The baby in her belly is a pretentious, imperious lout Just pout! I want to shout So he’ll be cool when he comes out Views on the news, delivered so smooth. This week’s inspired by: Truth and Disfavored Identities Click for last week’s edition. And for more Headline Rhymes, follow along on Twitter @grahamverdon Do you have a Headline Rhyme? Take a stab in the Comments Section below.  Sentiments are not necessarily shared by everyone at Quillette.

How Ideologues Captured the Canadian Publishing Industry

In 2016, when I enrolled in the Master of Publishing program at Simon Fraser University’s Vancouver, B.C. campus, I had expected to find an industry of like-minded professionals who shared my love of the written word. And I did indeed meet many such colleagues. But I also got a glimpse into an industry that has become politicized to an extent that I scarcely could have imagined. Publishing is not a career one chooses for the money. Nearly all areas of the industry are suffering economically. But since embarking on this course of study, I’ve found myself confronting challenges that have nothing to do with money. Regular Quillette readers will be aware that political and ideological forces have constrained the range of acceptable content in artistically and academically rarified fields such as creative writing (including poetry), media studies, music and performance art. What might be less appreciated is the manner by which these same forces are exerting pressure on the more mainstream area of publishing. At Simon Fraser University (SFU), the MPub degree (as it’s commonly …

Reading ‘Lolita’ in the West

In 1955, when a flushing toilet was still considered too offensive for the eyes of the movie-going public, it’s no surprise that a blackly comic novel about sex with children would cause a stir. Enter Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita, the effusively written story of a 37-year-old literature professor who marries a widow in order to gain access to Lolita, her 12-year-old daughter. The star of Lolita is not Lolita herself, but Humbert Humbert, who hides his obsession with adolescent girls under a mask of tweedy old-world erudition. Humbert uses his position as narrator to lecture the reader on the many noble aspects of adult-on-child romance, and to extol his love for his adopted daughter/concubine. To many, Nabokov remains “the guy who wrote that book about pedophilia.” Following its publication, Lolita was ignored, and then banned. Britain led the way, confiscating all copies of the novel entering the country, and France followed suit. Only months after its release did Lolita receive its first positive review from a respectable paper, the Sunday Times. Responding to the Sunday Times, …

Headline Rhymes

Where some see a smirk I see an awkward kid Where some see a wise man I see a disturber of shit The question I just can’t leave alone: Where the hell were the chaperones? Views on the news, delivered so smooth. This week’s inspired by: Truth and Disfavored Identities Click for last week’s edition. And for more Headline Rhymes, follow along on Twitter @grahamverdon Do you have a Headline Rhyme? Take a stab in the Comments Section below.  Sentiments are not necessarily shared by everyone at Quillette.

Headline Rhymes

I saw an ad from Gillette Said barbecue wasn’t correct I’d wager a bet More food’s under threat And microwave popcorn is next Views on the news, delivered so smooth. This week’s inspired by: Gillette’s Progressive Politics: ‘Corinthian Leather’ for the Progressive Soul Click for last week’s edition. And for more Headline Rhymes, follow along on Twitter @grahamverdon Do you have a Headline Rhyme? Take a stab in the Comments Section below.  Sentiments are not necessarily shared by everyone at Quillette.