Another National Poetry Month might be in the books, but here at EPL we’ve got a fever, and the only prescription is more poetry! So if you’re like us and April was merely an appetizer for your poetry hunger, you might enjoy feasting on this historic tidbit: on May 5th exactly 200 years ago, the revered Romantic poet John Keats published his very first poem in Leigh Hunt’s The Examiner. Titled “O Solitude!,” the sonnet began a remarkable and tragically brief career that saw Keats publish three celebrated books of poetry before his death from tuberculosis on February 23, 1821 at the age of 25. You can read “O Solitude!” below, and then drop by EPL to check out the rest of Keat’s work. You won’t be disappointed.
O Solitude! (Sonnet VII)
O Solitude! if I must with thee dwell,
Let it not be among the jumbled heap
Of murky buildings; climb with me the steep,–
Nature’s observatory–whence the dell,
Its flowery slopes, its river’s crystal swell,
May seem a span; let me thy vigils keep
‘Mongst boughs pavillion’d, where the deer’s swift leap
Startles the wild bee from the fox-glove bell.
But though I’ll gladly trace these scenes with thee,
Yet the sweet converse of an innocent mind,
Whose words are images of thoughts refin’d,
Is my soul’s pleasure; and it sure must be
Almost the highest bliss of human-kind,
When to thy haunts two kindred spirits flee.
Want more John Keats? Try the following:
How to Kill a Vampire (Series)
Fans’ outrage over the end of the Sookie Stackhouse series is chronicled by the Wall Street Journal. Despite her best attempts at a satisfying finale, author Charlaine Harris was so overwhelmed by taunting emails and death threats she was frightened into canceling her Dead Ever After book tour.
Self-Portrait of an Artist
Flavorwire curates this impressive collection of 20 visual self-portraits by famous authors. Ranging from scribbles to studied oil paintings, the digital show includes works by Sylvia Plath, Jack Kerouac, Flannery O’Connor, Mark Twain, Margaret Atwood, and Kurt Vonnegut (above).
The emerging genre of Midwestern noir is featured in this American Prospect article. Exemplified by the work of Donald Ray Pollock and Frank Bill, these violent, unsentimental books turn the tables on “don’t-bother-locking-the-doors nostalgia” for rural America.
Book Riot showcases eight incredible Lego projects based on books. Included are scenes from Moby-Dick, Don Quixote, The Shining as well as a mind-blowing, 400,000 brick reconstruction of Hogwarts from the Harry Potter series.
Better Late Than Never
An F. Scott Fitzgerald story rejected 75 years ago is finally published in The New Yorker. Recently discovered by Fitzgerald’s grandchildren, “Thank You for the Light” is a short, fable-like vignette turned down in 1936 for being too unlike his other work. See what you think.
Reports of My Death are Greatly Exaggerated
The predicted demise of the book is tracked through the ages by the NY Times. Beginning with Theophile Gautier’s 1835 declaration that “the newspaper is killing the book,” the essay traces how every generation has rewritten the book’s epitaph for nearly 200 years.
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Scientologist
A 7-year-old Neil Gaiman talks to BBC Radio about Scientology in this transcript published by the Village Voice. Discovered in a 1969 church pamphlet, the future sci-fi writer – whose dad was Scientology’s PR chief in the UK – is interviewed to refute Parliament’s objections to the church.
Cross-Pollinating the Arts
Lovers of books and music shouldn’t miss the Literary Jukebox. Matching a daily book quote with a thematically-related song, this new website shares such unique pairings as Ernest Hemmingway with Mazzy Star, Susan Sontag with Andrew Bird, and many others.
Waiting for the King
Writer Dave Eggers talks about his new novel A Hologram for the King with the NY Times. Along with discussing his differing approaches to fiction and nonfiction, the Zeitoun author explores how Waiting for Godot, Willy Loman, and a visit to Saudi Arabia subtly influenced the book.
Superheroes for the Silver Screen
The Onion presents 21 comic book super teams perfect for the movies. Inspired by The Avengers’ blockbuster and this weekend’s Comic-Con, they lobby for bringing Alpha Flight, Doom Patrol, the Champions, the Thunderbolts, Seven Soldiers, and the Zoo Crew to Hollywood.
The Importance of Being Orwell
George Orwell’s diaries are dissected by the late Christopher Hitchens in this fascinating Vanity Fair feature. Due out next month, the 1984 author’s personal writings shed light on how his years in Morocco and Spain in the 1930’s and ’40’s greatly influenced his political convictions.
Thank You for Being a Friend
Learn the art of bromance with this look at 11 great literary friendships. Through inspiring highs and jealous lows, peek inside the complex relationships between Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald, C.S Lewis and J.R.R Tolkien, and Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus.
The Private Lives of Great Writers
The extent to which an author’s personal life sheds light on their work is debated by Salon. Weighing in on Jonathan Franzen’s controversial New Yorker essay, the article explores just how relevant Edith Wharton’s looks and Saul Bellow’s marital problems are to appreciating their novels.
Beyond The Art of Fielding
The American novelist’s interest in sports is thoroughly examined in Slate. Focusing on Chad Harbach’s bestseller as well as books by Philip Roth, John Updike, Don DeLillo, and David Foster Wallace, the insightful essay looks at how sports are used to explore courage, resilience, and loyalty.
Police sketch software is used to create portraits of famous characters in literature on this seductively strange website. Using descriptions straight from the novels, artist and writer Brian Joseph Davis’ depictions include Rochester from Jane Eyre, Emma Bovary, and Ignatius J. Reilly (pictured).
Ladies’ Night on Movie Night
Celebrate Women’s History Month with one of these 40 films featuring some seriously cool ladies both real and fictitious. Pop some corn and take your pick from titles including Persepolis, La Vie en Rose, The Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter, Amelie, and The Color Purple.
Tom Cruise is… Jack Reacher?
Hollywood’s decision to cast the diminutive star as Lee Child’s rugged 6’5″ ex-Army hero is fiercely debated in the Wall Street Journal. Inviting you to vote for your ideal choice, the in-depth story retraces Reacher’s long road to the big screen and peeks behind the scenes of One Shot.
Baby, Let’s Not Fight
SF Signal offers this hilarious, heartfelt letter from genre fiction to literature. A sample quote: “Please, darling, let us stop this. This artificial separation between us is painful, it is undignified, and it fools no one. In company, we sneer at each other and make those cold, cutting remarks. And why?”
The Accursed Poets
The mythology of the poete maudit – or “cursed poet”- is explored in this excellent essay from First Things. Ravaged by alcoholism, diabetes, arthritis, and syphilis, greats like Baudelaire and Verlaine helped birth the image of the afflicted genius who suffered for the sake of his art.
The Anticipation is Killing Me
The Atlantic presents 15 books to look forward to in 2012 including new titles from Jonathan Safran Foer, Lionel Shriver, Anne Tyler, Nell Freudenberger, Peter Carey, John Irving, Michael Chabon, and Justin Cronin’s follow-up to The Passage.
Portrait of the Artist
Shelf Awareness talks to The Magician King author Lev Grossman about his many creative influences including his obsession with C.S. Lewis’s Narnia Chronicles, his mother’s British heritage, the traditions of fantasy writing, and the midlife crisis that inspired his debut The Magicians.
Word & Film offers this tantalizing teaser for book-based T.V. shows currently being developed. Included are Salman Rushdie’s sci-fi series “Next People,” an adaptation of Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad, and HBO’s “Hobgoblin” from Michael Chabon and Aylet Waldman.
Writers who keep the popular series of deceased authors alive are the controversial subjects of this Salon article. Included are interviews with Jeffery Deaver on his update of Ian Fleming’s James Bond series and Eric Van Lustbader on continuing Robert Ludlum’s Jason Bourne books.
Butch Cassidy & the Mystery Memoir
The Huffington Post explores new evidence that the notorious outlaw’s 1934 biography was actually an autobiography. Thought to have been killed in a 1908 shootout, some rare books collectors now insist he survived the next 30 years to pen his life story as William T. Phillips.
Young Adult Realism
EPL’s own Jarrett Dapier talks with author Walter Dean Myers in this fascinating interview for In These Times. The legendary YA writer candidly discusses “the debt he owes to James Baldwin” along with the importance of mentoring teens.
The Stockholm Syndrome Theory of Long Novels
Mark O’Connell examines his newfound love of doorstop-sized novels in this amusing Millions essay. Though novels like Ulysses and Gravity’s Rainbow can punish us with their difficulty and length, he says conquering them is like “climbing Everest for people who prefer not to leave the house.”
One Book, One Twitter
The Atlantic announces the debut of their Twitter-based book group 1book140. Modeled after “One Book, One Chicago,” the global discussion group kicked things off this month with Margaret Atwood’s The Blind Assassin and invites you to share in the reading and tweeting, reading and tweeting.
The Newly Complicated Zora Neale Hurston
The discovery of three “lost” stories by the Harlem Renaissance author is detailed in this engrossing essay from the Chronicle of Higher Education. Differing dramatically from her better known works, the stories unearth an intriguing new side to the Southern folk writer.
A Bestiary of the Evolving Book
The influence of e-readers on the types of books that will be created in the future is detailed by Scholarly Kitchen. Starting with the “Classic E-book” on our Nooks and Kobos, this tech-savvy article explores “Enhanced Books,” “Muscular Books,” “Social Books,” and 140-character “Staccato Books.”
The Virginia Woolf You Never Knew
Flavorpill celebrates Virginia Woolf’s birthday with 59 little known facts about the extraordinary author including: 1) Her childhood nickname was “The Goat;” 2) She was a formidable bowler; 3) She and her husband owned a pet monkey named Mitz.
A Birthday Tradition Nevermore
A mysterious yearly ritual at the grave of Edgar Allan Poe seems to have come to an end. For 60 years, an unknown visitor would emerge from the shadows on Poe’s January 19th birthday to toast the macabre writer with three roses and a half bottle of cognac. Now, for the second year, the visitor has failed to appear.
The Case of the First Mystery Novelist
The NY Times solves the mystery of who wrote the first detective novel. Published in 1865, The Notting Hill Mystery received rave reviews from Victorian critics as it pioneered the popular new mystery genre. Until now, however, the author’s identity has never been known.
The Best Poetry of 2010
NPR’s picks for the top poetry volumes of last year are listed along with excerpts from each work. In a banner year for poetry, the annotated list includes Terrence Hayes’ National Book Award-winning Lighthead (pictured right) as well as new volumes by Charles Simic and Kathleen Graber.
You’ve Been Verbed
The recent grammatical phenomenon of turning nouns into verbs is explored at length by The Economist. Whether we’re friending, Googling, snowboarding, or texting, “verbing” is changing our language at hyperspeed. Ben Franklin would not be pleased.
Barack in Bronzeville
Author Rebecca Janowitz presents a compelling argument for locating the future Obama Presidential Library in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood. Though Hawaii is already making it’s pitch, a Bronzeville site offers tremendous possibilities.