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.
Climate change is one of the most pressing issues facing humanity. As we teeter on the edge of disaster, actions should be speaking louder than words. But the sad truth is that the overwhelming evidence for climate change has not moved us beyond discussion and, shockingly, debate; even the most dire numbers apparently are not enough to make us feel the urgency. Fortunately, some talented artists are using their craft to inspire us to take action.
Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner is a poet from the Marshall Islands who is sounding the alarm about the devastating effects that global warming is already having on her native land. She has addressed the UN and is the cofounder of Jo-Jikum, an environmental NGO.
"Climate change at work": For his Climate Signals installation (September 1–November 6), artist Justin Brice Guariglia—who has flown on earth science missions with NASA—has erected 10 solar-powered highway signs around New York City. Their flashing messages are geared toward provoking conversation and encouraging action on climate change.
Artist Mary Mattingly has a long history of creating sculptural ecosystems that highlight environmental issues. In 2009 she created the barge-mounted Waterpod to highlight rising sea levels. Artists lived, worked, and held events on the self-contained eco-habitat. Her most recent piece, Swale, is a floating food forest.
Olafur Eliasson, conceptual artist and creator of Little Sun, worked with geologist Minik Rosing to create Ice Watch in 2015. The project harvested 80 tonnes of ice from Greenland and deposited them to melt in Paris during the United Nations Climate Conference there.
Eve Mosher worked with experts and the local communities of five cities in the United Kingdom and the United States for HighWaterLine, a public art initiative that drew a blue chalk line around sites that are likely to flood due to climate change.
Dear Climate is an art project led by artists Marina Zurkow and Oliver Kellhammer and writer Una Chaudhuri. Along with exhibitions and events, Dear Climate offers audio meditations to "retool your inner climate" and posters to print out and mount wherever you see fit.
Collections and resources
In 2015, Carol Anne Duffy curated 20 original poems on climate change for The Guardian. Actors including Jeremy Irons, Ruth Wilson, and Michael Sheen read the poems aloud for maximum impact.
For its T Agitprop series, The New York Times collected works from a dozen contemporary artists on the theme of climate change.
The Poetry Foundation has pulled together a collection of environmental poetry from the past seven decades, "from early practitioners ... to ecopoets."
Artists and Climate Change (and its own list of resources) is a must-read for anyone interested in the intersection of art and ecology.
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.
Happy Canada Day! Just two days ago a new slew of recipients of the Order of Canada were announced. The many-tiered award was established on Canada's centennial 51 years ago to recognise "outstanding achievement, dedication to the community, and service to the nation." Here are the individuals who were appointed to the Order of Canada for their contributions to Canadian art and literature:
Canada's first female astronaut Dr. Roberta Bondar was recognised not only for her work in space medicine research, but also for promoting environmental sustainability—in particular through photography and writing. Her fifth photo essay book will be published soon.
Journalist and author Lise Bissonnette received an Order of Canada for her work as a journalist and author, as well as for her pivotal leadership role at the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec.
American-born sculptor-painter Eli Bornstein became a Canadian citizen in 1972. He was honoured by the Order of Canada for his groundbreaking structurist reliefs and his contributions to art theory as the founder of journal The Structurist.
Hédi Bouraoui is a poet, novelist, and essayist. He received the Order of Canada for his various writings and his theories on cultural boundaries and identities.
Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Exile Quarterly Barry Callaghan has been lauded as a preeminent man of letters. The poet, writer, and painter was named to the Order of Canada for promoting Canadian literature at home and abroad.
Writer, artist, and art critic Gary Michael Dault has been writing about Canadian art for decades; he currently writes a weekly column for the Globe and Mail. His commitment to celebrating visual artists was a key factor in his inclusion on this year's list.
Anyone who has ever read I Want My Hat Back to their child will appreciate that illustrator and author Jon Klassen was named to the Order of Canada this year for his work as an illustrator and author of children's literature.
He is the artist and graphic designer responsible for the CBC's iconic 1974 logo: Burton Kramer received his honour for his extensive and influential contributions to the field of graphic design.
Scott Thornley's contributions to "the advancement of our collective appreciation of art, culture, science, and education through his unique graphic and verbal designs" were recognised this year—a sure boon for his consultancy, STC.
Novelist and essayist Aritha van Herk's work has shone an international spotlight on the western Canadian experience; her books, essays, and other writing have been translated into ten languages.
Elizabeth Hillman Waterston is Professor Emeritus of the University of Guelph. She is a founding editor of Canadian Children's Literature, an authority on Lucy Maud Montgomery, and the author of several books. She was named to the Order of Canada for her role in developing the academic field of Canadian literature, and for her years of mentoring Canadian authors.
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