It’s that time again — time to check the wire and see what’s pulsing around the literary world this week.
— Unfortunately I need to mention the passing of another literary great this week — Nobel Prize winner Saul Bellow. Bellow died Tuesday at the age of 89. This great voice of the 20th century was an inspiration to many great writers who came after him and engaged his readers in a way that was real and affecting. It was this influence and insight that will be sorely missed as we look for someone to carry this torch in the 21st century.
— Come on down … The 2005 Pulitzer Prize winners were announced on Monday with Poet Laureate Ted Kooser taking the prize for poetry. Marilynne Robinson was awarded the fiction prize for Gilead and John Patrick Shanley’s Doubt was named tops in the drama field.
— Speaking of Ted Kooser … A few weeks ago I mentioned that one of the US Poet Laureate’s projects would be a weekly column highlighting poetry in newspapers. Kooser kicked this project off last Thursday and you can find more information and read the first column here.
— Spring is here and literature festivals are in the air. It’s about the only thing that makes the increasing pollen count more bearable. I’m happy to report that PEN World Voices, the New York Festival of International Literature will be taking place in New York City this month (April 16th – 22nd). Authors, publishers and translators from around the globe will convene to discuss world issues, literary classics and the future of literature. Participants include such heavyweights as Paul Auster, Michael Ondaatje, Margaret Atwood, E. L. Doctorow and Salman Rushdie. In addition to the panels, discussions and events taking place during the festival, Words Without Borders, The Online Magazine for International Literature, will be hosting three online forum discussions with distinguished authors and translators. Following the festival, Words Without Borders will also feature selected audio and video from the festival, available in May.
— What a big brain you have! Researchers in Scotland have found that poetry, not prose, is a better workout for the brain. The imagery, meaning, meter and rhyme often found in poetry seems to “latent preferences in the brain for rhythm and rhymes that develop during childhood.” Psychologists at Dundee and St. Andrews universities in Scotland measured brain activity in subjects reading as well as listening to poetry compared with other forms of writing. Well … it is National Poetry Month.
— The University of Liverpool announced that they will be launching Science Fiction Hub on Tuesday. Reportedly the world’s first website solely focused on science fiction research, the Hub will serve as a primary resource for information and archives on the genre, as well as the theories and technologies behind it. From what I’ve seen so far, the site is a fascinating repository and looks great, too. Beam me up!
That’s all I have to share this week — tell us what you think about these stories, the passing of Saul Bellow or any other literary news that’s caught your eye.