1. Just Kids, Patti Smith’s beguiling memoir of late 1960s New York, the Chelsea Hotel, Robert Mapplethorpe and the early 1970s St. Mark’s Church punk poetry scene, has won the National Book Award! Quite impressive. I totally called this back in February, you know. The winner’s circle above includes Jaimy Gordon, Terrance Hayes, Kathryn Erskine.
2. Doonesbury turns 40! I grew up with this comic strip. I used to especially love the counterculture literary references: Uncle Duke was Hunter S. Thompson, and several characters lived at the Walden Puddle Commune. (This was probably a reference not only to Thoreau’s Walden but also to B. F. Skinner’s then-fashionable Walden Two.)
Before I found out Patti won the National Book Award I was going to illustrate today’s blog post with a picture I found of Zonker scuba-diving in Walden Puddle. The image is too good to waste, so here it is:
3. Michael Orthofer of the Complete Review has written a book, The Complete Review: Eleven Years, 2500 Reviews, A Site History, about his experience creating and maintaining that website and the accompanying blog Literary Saloon. I’ve read it, and it’s a charming, candid look at the kinds of questions, decisions and private struggles that animate the life of a serious independent blogger.
4. Rainn Wilson of The Office explains why he is a Baha-i, and why he wrote a book called Soul Pancake: Chew on Life’s Big Questions. Looks like some wise stuff — I may chew on some of these questions myself.
5. The history of Soft Skull, which may or may not be coming to an end.
7. . “It ain’t fair, John Sinclair“. A video performance by the Michigan activist, poet and one-time manager of the MC5, directed by Laki Vazakas.
8. Breaking the Poetry Code: where poetry and electronic publishing meet.
9. If Other Directors Made The Social Network. My favorite: Christopher Guest.
12. Wikileaks and War Poetry by Daniel Swift.
14. A much-needed documentary about the great, anguished, complicated 1960s-era folksinger/protest singer Phil Ochs, There But For Fortune.
15. Taoism is being allowed a revival — a very modest one, but a revival nonetheless — in China.
16. Reza Aslan talks about the latest Words Without Borders anthology Tablet & Pen on the Colbert Report. Also don’t forget The Ecco Anthology of International Poetry, also from Words Without Borders, edited by Ilya Kaminsky and Susan Harris, and here’s a website of literary international jokes called An International Joke.
17. Wanderlust, a dynamic display of “history’s greatest journeys, from Magellan to Kerouac”.