I’m not sure if March is going out like a lamb or not, but I do know that there are plenty of literary awards still being doled out and new poet laureates on the horizon, and that literature is becoming more mobile every day. Come, take a stroll with me through the literary headlines that have crossed my desk this week.
— Continuing the growing trend of literary musicals is James Joyce: the Musical. Ok, it’s actually called “Himself and Nora” and focuses on telling the story of the Irish-born author and his lifelong companion Nora Barnacle. Granted, the story of their lives and relationship is probably a fascinating one, but I can’t help but wonder: Does James Joyce use jazz hands?
— As least it’s not a musical… I recently read that Augusten Burroughs’ novel, Running with Scissors, is being made into a major motion picture. Yes, a movie. That apparently doesn’t star Tom Hanks. But does include Gwyneth Paltrow and Annette Bening in its cast. I’m curious to hear from those who’ve read this book on the casting choices so far and if you’re planning to catch this movie when it finally hits theaters in 2006.
— By now, you’ve probably read that the Paris Review has a new editor. Heading up the venerable literary quarterly is Philip Gourevitch, who has written for The New Yorker and is known for his writings on Rwanda, Cambodia and other struggling areas. All reports seem to indicate that Gourevitch’s goal is to maintain the Review‘s current direction, in that he doesn’t intend to shake things up too much. It is interesting to note that he is quoted as saying, “But we’ll throw some good parties, certainly.” And really, that’s what literature is all about, I think — the kick-ass parties.
— There’s not much more to add to this headline, but I found this interesting: China bans novel that satirizes Mao. I think it’s still shocking to hear a book has been banned anywhere in the world, although this one may seem a bit more obvious. I’m still searching for some online text of this novel in English, but the Chinese version is here. Note to self: don’t pitch your Mao sitcom idea to the folks in Bejing.
— It’s raining … poet laureates! After a much publicized search for nominations, California has finally narrowed it down to three finalists. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like Gary Coleman made the list. Oregon and Montana are seeking to fill the roles for a state bard as well. US Poet Laureate Ted Kooser opened the session of the Oregon legistlature with a poem. In contrast, Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer (who I reported re-opened Kerouac’s favorite saloon in my last column) presented the bill to create the position of state poet laureate by performing a poem of his own. You just gotta love Montana.
— It was on this day in 1844 that Paul Verlaine was born in the town of Metz on the Eastern border of France. In addition to being a celebrated poet and literary legend in his own right, you can also find Paul popping up on many LitKicks pages, serving as a kind of mascot and patron saint. I should also add that you can find images of Paul Verlaine gracing many items of LitKicks apparel, including the robustly awesome “got absinthe?” shirts. I wore mine over the weekend and was met with curious stares, looks of shocked horror, squinting and cautious clearing of the path ahead. I mean more than usual.
— What’s next? A Tolstoy ringtone? Many Japanese cell phone users are turning to cell-phone literature to catch up on the classics — or to download material that may be too embarrassing to ask for in the library. I have a hard time just checking email on my phone, so I can’t imagine reading a novel that way. Are any of you are using a service like this — I’d love to hear what you think of it.
— Deep down, they’re all winners. Beat fans will be happy to know that Gary Snyder and Lawrence Ferlinghetti are just two of the nominees for the 2004 Northern California Book Awards, competing in the poetry category. Also of note is the nonfiction nominee, American Scream: Allen Ginsberg’s ‘Howl’ and the Making of the Beat Generation by Jonah Raskin. In other awards news, the National Book Critics Circle prizes were announced a few weeks ago with Adrienne Rich winning the poetry prize for The School Among the Ruins: Poems 2000-2004. Dylan fans were disappointed to learn that his Chronicles didn’t have what it took to beat out the biography winner, De Kooning: An American Master.
— And finally, I’m proud to announce that LitKicks will be making an appearance during the 2005 Bethesda Literary Festival. The festival runs April 22-24 and takes place in various venues in Bethesda, MD. The LitKicks Action Poets will be instigating a poetry reading on Sunday, April 24 from 3-5pm ET. The reading is hosted by Gallery Neptune and will be followed by an art exhibit titled “The 21st Century Bookmark”. Both events are free and we’re looking for one or two more poets to help us out. If you’re interested or would like more information, please contatct me at email@example.com . This is our second appearance at the LitFest, and we thorougly recommend the experience.
That’s all I have for this week — what’s the buzz in your neighborhood? What new releases, literary news and author gossip are you hearing — or even better, what news are you creating yourself?