Category Archives: Contemporary Literature

Remembering Diane di Prima

By | August 6, 2021

Diane di Prima was born on August 6, 1934 in Brooklyn and passed on in San Francisco on October 25, 2020. Di Prima was a true national treasure, having chronicled throughout her astonishing career a momentous period of American history. Although for over six decades an indomitable force in ourcultural life, Di Prima remains unfamiliar to many readers. Because she was the major female identified with the Beat movement and author of the hip-language-inflected book This Bird Flies Backward (1958) who lounged in slacks sitting atop a piano—as a famous photograph from the fifties depicted her during a poetry reading— and due to the appearance a decade later of Memoirs of a Beatnik (1968), she has been misperceived as a “Beat chick.”

The Mythology of Modern Literature

By | August 3, 2021

Where Ovid entertained Romans with stories of metamorphoses, we now revel in stories of leaving our meat bodies and entering the internet as disembodied intelligences. Ovid’s stories may seem frivolous and even decadent to us, but we are entranced by our own version of such mythic transformations. Myths from different cultures resonate and merge; that particular transformation to web existence is also known as The Rapture for Nerds.

Queering Contemporary Literature: The Work of Jeanette Winterson

By | July 27, 2021

A powerful use of language is to tell people our story, especially to tell our loved ones about ourselves. They will hopefully reply using the language of acceptance and understanding. Conversely, a person can conceal their own story through language, or have their declarations met with words of hate and violence. This is when language has an even more important role to play in illuminating the path to equality; as Jeanette Winterson says, we need a language “capable of expressing all that it is called upon to express in a vastly changing world.”

What is tone?

By | January 7, 2021

Guest post by Judith Roof The below is an excerpt of the preface from Tone by Judith Roof Key Tone Tone  Def:  Etymology  mid-14c.,  “musical  sound  or  note,”  from  Old  French  ton  “musical  sound,  speech,  words”  (13c.)  and directly from Latin tonus “a sound, tone, accent,” literally “stretching”  (in  Medieval  Latin,  a  term  peculiar  to … Read More »

Brandon Sanderson’s Fantasy Worlds

By | December 19, 2020

Guest post by Ritwick Bhattacharjee In his rather captivating introduction to Maurice Blanchot’s Aminadab, Jean Paul Sartre writes: “So long as it was thought possible to escape the conditions of human existence through asceticism, mysticism, metaphysical disciplines or the practice of poetry, fantasy was called upon to fulfil a very definite function. It manifested our… Read More »

Writing and Editing The Tough Alchemy of Ben Okri

By | September 29, 2020

Guest post by Rosemary Alice Gray The publication of my monograph entitled, The Tough Alchemy of Ben Okri: The writer as conceptual artist fell about a week before my 80th birthday, auspiciously 20 August 2020. Since I discovered the works of Nigerian-born Londoner, Ben Okri (OBE), who has invested his lifeblood at the rock face of… Read More »

The Tough Alchemy of Ben Okri

By | September 10, 2020

A South African born, but Kenyan bred bibliophile, I side with Okri’s exhortation for an urgent need for ‘true critics’ who can shift through a wide range of literary disciplines and delve deeply into a book to release its ‘hidden genies’.

On being my own research subject

By | August 29, 2019

Guest post by Angelika Bammer My undergraduate students still regularly ask me if it’s ok to use “I” in their essays. When I assure them that it’s not just ok, but a way of acknowledging their own stakes in their argument or the questions they set out to explore, it’s like giving thirsty hikers water.… Read More »

Happy birthday, Raymond Carver!

By | May 25, 2019

Guest post by Tim Groenland Raymond Carver, who died in 1988, would have celebrated his 81st birthday today. In the years since his untimely passing, the continued spread of his work – the appearance of previously unpublished stories, new translations in multiple languages, adaptations and homages such as that found in Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Oscar-winning… Read More »

‘I’d better get cracking’: Author David Mitchell on turning 50

By | January 12, 2019

David Mitchell is the author of seven novels, including bestsellers Cloud Atlas, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet and The Bone Clocks, and was born on 12th January 1969. To mark his 50th birthday, Rose Harris-Birtill sent him ten interview questions on his birthday wishes, his fictional alter-ego, and his next book. A huge… Read More »