By Deb A.
The Washington Post and the Financial Times have already gotten a head start on end-of-year recommendations, offering up their picks for the best poetry books of 2018. But not every poet can win a Grammy like Leonard Cohen, whose The Flame is a must-read according to the Financial Times, or be hailed as a "Living Legend" by the U.S. Library of Congress like Ursula K. Le Guin, who made the Washington Post's list with So Far So Good. Which is why some Columbia University students set their sights much, much lower, on the 33rd annual Alfred Joyce Kilmer Memorial Bad Poetry Contest.
Held by the university's Philolexian Society, a literary and debate society that aims to "promote wit and humour on campus," the contest honours Alfred Joyce Kilmer and his meticulously rhyming contributions to the poetic canon. Nearly 40 contestants took to the stage this year, unabashedly embracing terrible metaphors, obnoxious rhymes, and pretentious language in their efforts to drive the three professors judging the proceedings to despair.
There were limericks. There was performance art. There were several modern takes on old classics. The winner was freshman Dylan Tymel and his "A Story of Unrequited Love in 5 Haikus", in which he recruits a "sweet, rotten, rhymeless" orange to provide the necessary imagery.
Your pith in my nails
As I peel you, stinging juice
Squirts into my soul
(From "A Story of Unrequited Love in 5 Haikus" by new poet laureate Dylan Tymel)
(If that strikes your fancy, you might want to check out some past winners.)
As per tradition, the event ended with everyone in attendance reciting Joyce Kilmer's "Trees":
I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the sweet earth's flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.
By Deb A.
What makes a book difficult, and is that a bad thing? (The Guardian)
The Deutsche Börse Photography Foundation has announced its shortlist for next year's prize.
Behind the scenes with the impressive list of celebrities reading children to sleep on CBeebies Bedtime Stories. (BBC)
Jawohl! The Deutsche Welle has put together a list of 100 must-reads translated from German into English.
Artist Tania Willard's recent work turns the wind into a poet. (CBC)
The science is in on how to become a successful artist. (artnet; full study, published in Science, available here)
The 2018 New York Times/New York Public Library Best Illustrated Children's Books are here!
By Deb A.
Here are some tidbits you may have missed this week.
"Alas for me! I am dead!": Ancient speech bubbles have been discovered in Jordan. (Atlas Obscura)
World of WearableArt celebrates its 30-year anniversary this year. (World of WearableArt)
Film, sculpture, performance, installations, activist architecture—but not a paintbrush in sight. The Turner Prize shortlist is here. (Tate)
Speaking of shortlists, the Photobox Instagram Photography Awards has one and there isn't a single shot of brunch to be seen. (PIPA)
Caitriona Lally won this year's Rooney Prize for Irish Literature for her debut novel, Eggshells. The award is given by Trinity College Dublin, Ms. Lally's alma mater and current employer; she has been working there as a cleaner since 2015. (CBC Radio)
How to probably not corrupt your child: Read them books that have been banned. Julia Pistell celebrates Banned Books Week. (Shondaland)
And now that you've reached the end, stop scrolling and get back to your book—but take a look at Joe Moran's examination of slow reading first. (The Guardian)
By Deb A.
Welcome back! Time to catch up on what's been happening since we went on summer break...
This one's recent—and fascinating. Here's what's at risk when we read on screens instead of paper. (The Guardian)
Germans unearthed the country's oldest library. It is believed to have been built 1,800 years ago. (Atlas Obscura)
A man fell into an Anish Kapoor work in Porto. (artnet news)
Take a look at the winners of the first LensCulture Art Photography Awards, which celebrate photographers who are pushing the boundaries of their medium. (LensCulture)
Chinese authorities destroyed Ai Weiwei's Beijing studio. (NPR)
Tyler Mitchell became the first black photographer to shoot a Vogue cover. Thanks Beyoncé! (Vogue)
The Royal Photographic Society is looking for a Hundred Heroines—nominate an outstanding contemporary female photographer here. (Royal Photographic Society)
Shilpa Gupta gave silenced poets a voice at the Edinburgh Art Festival. (Edinburgh Art Festival)
Why poetry is popular again. (The Atlantic)
Move over Wolverine, Marvel's got a new Canadian superhero: Snowguard is a shapeshifting Inuk teen. (The Walrus)
By Deb A.
The Man Booker Prize has just marked its 50th anniversary by handing a golden trophy to the author of its 1992 winner, Michael Ondaatje's The English Patient.
The shortlist for the Golden Man Booker consisted of a single title per decade of Man Booker winners: In a Free State by V. S. Naipaul for the 1970s; Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively for the 1980s; The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje for the 1990s; Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel for the 2000s; and last year's winner, Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders, for this decade. The five novels then went up for a month-long public vote.
Author Kamila Shamsie was tasked with selecting a single representative for the 1990s. She picked The English Patient because "it does everything," with a rich cast of characters, beautiful language, intricate structure, and universal themes like "war and friendship and love and nationalism" that remain relevant to this day. She rejected the notion that her pick won because of its Oscar-winning film adaptation, but noted that "a lot of people when they're reading the book are probably imagining Ralph Fiennes though, and that doesn't hurt anything."
In accepting the prize, Mr. Ondaatje acknowledged authors who had never won, including William Trevor, Barbara Pimm, and fellow Canadian Alice Munro.
The Golden Man Booker is the third time that the institution has awarded a 'best of the best' prize—the Booker of Bookers, which marked its 25th anniversary, and the Best of Booker, created for its 40th, were both won by Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children.
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