Monthly Archives: August 2013

Seamus Heaney (1939-2013)

August 30, 2013
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Seamus Heaney (1939-2013)

Implicit in those lines is a view of poetry which I think is implicit in the few poems I have written that give me any right to speak: poetry as divination, poetry as revelation of the self to the self, as restoration of the culture to itself; poems as elements of continuity, with the aura and authenticity of archaeological finds, where the buried shard has an importance that is not diminished by the importance of the buried city; poetry as a dig, a dig for finds that end up being plants. ‘Digging,’ in fact, was the name of the first poem I wrote where I thought my feelings had got into words, or to put it more accurately, where I thought my feel had had got into words. Its rhythms and noises still please me, although there are a couple of lines in it that have more of the theatricality of the gunslinger than the self-absorption of the digger. I wrote it in the summer of 1964, almost two years after I had begun to ‘dabble in verses.’ This was the first place where I felt I had done more than make an arrangement of words: I felt that I . . .

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How to Succeed in College

August 29, 2013
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How to Succeed in College

The days surrounding Labor Day weekend usher in the end of summer, and with it, for millions of families, the start of the school year (literally, millions of families: why does that sounds so banal? “millions of families”—probably because I’m a single thirty-two year-old woman on my third cup of coffee eating desiccated coconut flakes out of the bag and thinking of Carl Sagan). With that in mind, it’s not hard to imagine an increase in anxiety for parents and students alike, especially those on the cusp of pointed new territory: the start of college and the end of life-as-it-was-previously known. Jon B. Gould, longtime college professor and award-winning teacher, actually wrote the book about this sort of thing. This evening, he’ll be appearing on WTTW’s Chicago Tonight in support of How to Succeed in College (While Really Trying), which gives readers the lay of the land and demystifies the college experience, offering advice from an insider who has witnessed the transitions—in life and in learning—of innumerable newbie undergrads. But, real talk for a moment: who gets the lion’s share of that anxiety? My own mom wept on the driveway when I threw all my belongings into four garbage bags and drove . . .

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A Naked Singularity wins big with PEN

August 14, 2013
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A Naked Singularity wins big with PEN

Congratulations are due to UCP author, novelist, public defender, and, um, really nice dude/polymath Sergio De la Pava, who just took home the Robert W. Bingham Prize (a PEN Literary Award) for A Naked Singularity, a debut work that demonstrates “distinguished literary achievement and suggests great promise.” Along with the $25,000 kitty, De la Pava earns more than just renewed DIY bragging rights. From a write-up in the Wall Street Journal, which (for interested parties) engages with the book’s back story: Mr. De La Pava, reached on his way to a speaking engagement at the Edinburgh International Book Festival in Scotland, said he intends to continue his legal case-load but was grateful to be recognized by an organization with a human-rights agenda. “What I do on a daily basis is very important to me,” he said. “ has a social-justice mission, so it’s even more meaningful.” Recently, De la Pava took to the stage at MOMA/PS 1’s Expo 1 New York, where he delivered a two-part talk on the legacy of Philip K. Dick and the future of the criminal justice system, a piece of Venn Diagram portraiture surrounding some of the larger issues at stake in A Naked Singularity. Check . . .

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