Recommended Reading on Art as Resistance, Publishing, and Writing, too
Installment II - I read and closed all my open tabs at the end of 2023!
Abortion Trading Cards: Because Abortion Access Is Not a Game
In a compelling portrayal of a dystopian future, where abortion care is illegal, individuals clandestinely exchange hand-altered playing card decks. The Abortion Trading Cards deck stands as a powerful representation of this vision. Created by Alexandra Jamieson.
January 22nd is the 51st anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision (1973).
June 24, 2022 is the date of the Dobbs v. Jackson case, overturning Roe v. Wade.
I have been obsessed with my dear friend Alex’s Abortion Trading Cards since she first started painting the original deck - and have watched this project blossom. When you purchase a deck, not only are you supporting a working artist, but 15% of proceeds benefit Brigid Alliance, a referral-based service that provides travel food lodging child care and other logistical support for people seeking abortions.
What role does art play? How can art speak to power? How can art - this includes writing - give voice to the voiceless?
I recently read Dawn by Sevgi Soysal (Translated from Turkish by Maureen Freely). Soysal was a feminist, novelist, socialist, and intellectual revolutionary living under military rule, in prison, and in exile in Turkey. This book was first published in English over 40 years after it was written - 2022 by Archipelago press; in September, it was included in Lacuna Magazine’s list of “Seven of the best fiction and non-fiction books to explore social justice.” We have this, forward momentum. 51 years after Roe v. Wade in the U.S. we have…backward sliding.
What are the invisible forces at work behind the art we see in galleries or…the books we read? The books that are published? I loved reading about Unbound Edition Press in this article, Meet the Small Press Subverting Traditional Publishing With Its Brand by Kim Tidwell (Oct. 2023):
Bringing everything he learned from his literary, brand, and publishing backgrounds, he founded Unbound Edition Press to publish “literary dissent from fearless writers,” focused primarily on collections (because of how people read today) of essays, poetry, and memoirs in essay form. “I believe personally and politically that there needs to be a place for voices of dissent to be treated with full literary merit, not just as passing rants on the internet,” says Davis. Every Book, a Beautiful Manifesto.
Have you seen the Cate Blanchett film Manifesto? Please go watch it.
Let’s combine writing with publishing data, then. Specifically, why publishing isn’t more transparent in its machinations of who gets published and how. Who are the gatekeepers? Who are the editors? What is the PR machine that helps a book sell successfully or not? I highly recommend reading this article by Josh Lambert in The Atlantic, The Invisible Forces Behind the Books We Read, And why they’re so hard to measure (Dec. 2023):
The profound weirdness of our collective ignorance about books becomes evident when you compare the book business with other major culture industries. Even amateur film critics have all of the production and revenue data from IMDb and Box Office Mojo at their fingertips, and video-game reviewers can peruse a game’s credits and player counts. People win Oscars for makeup and cinematography and sound design, but there’s no Pulitzer or National Book Award for copy editors, agents, or jacket designers.
Beyond simply recognizing people’s labor, this would give us new, useful ways to understand the books we care so much about. If you knew that the same editor had acquired five of your favorite books of the past 10 years—even though she moved publishing houses twice in that time—you might want to keep an eye out for what she’s working on next. If you’re concerned about diversity, equity, and justice in the literary field, you will want to take note of not just which authors are getting their work into print but also which gatekeepers are facilitating their career, and whose support has been instrumental in allowing crucial books to reach us. Having reliable data on book sales might allow us to understand much more about not only which books have been successful in reaching wide audiences; it’ll also help us know which books have been successful in reaching which audiences. We would have a much better shot at knowing why it matters who owns Simon & Schuster.
Finally, I have included a number of beautiful tributes to Louise Glück in the Art/Literature articles section below - she died in October at the age of 80. In June, I wrote about Saskia Hamilton and my own solitary writing practice in my piece Recommended Reading on Hype, Digital Media, Art, and Death in Poetry. If you’re not familiar with former US Poet Laureate and Nobel-prize winning writer Glück, it’s worth your time to spend some time with her. As Michael Carlson writes in The Guardian, “She won the 2020 Nobel prize for literature, the first American poet to do so since TS Eliot in 1948. Announcing the award, the Swedish Academy praised the way her poetry’s “austere beauty makes individual existence universal”.”
I’ll leave you with all my Recommended Reading below! 2024 - the Year of the Dragon.
To Watch: Manifesto. Cate Blanchett performs manifestos as a series of striking monologues. (Director, Writer: Julian Rosefeldt; Stars Cate Blanchett)
RECOMMENDED READING - Top of Mind
Meet the Small Press Subverting Traditional Publishing With Its Brand by Kim Tidwell (Oct. 2023)
The Invisible Forces Behind the Books We Read, And why they’re so hard to measure
Josh Lambert (Dec. 2023)
The Hidden Powers of Everyday Ritual Psychological anthropologist Bradd Shore explores the subtle but powerful influence of rituals on shaping our lives. Bradd Shore Interview by MIT Press Reader Editors. (Dec. 2023)
The Left Brain, Right Brain Dynamics of LLMs Here’s a speculative gaze into the Jungian subconscious of AI. John Nosta (Oct. 2023)
NEWS / LONG-FORM JOURNALISM
Who Killed the Fudge King? Tom Donaghy (Oct. 2023)
Forest City: Inside Malaysia's Chinese-built 'ghost city' Nick Marsh (Dec. 2023)
BUSINESS / STARTUPS / INVESTING
Risk takers have “childlike” brains—and sometimes it’s a benefit Risk-taking isn't inherently bad: It tends to build self-confidence when things work out, and resilience when they don’t. Marianne Hayes & Ross Pomeroy (Feb. 2023)
What Separates Highly Creative People Brain scans reveal what fuels novel thinking.
Brian Gallagher (Aug. 2023)
I’m a psychologist for entrepreneurs: ‘Magic morning’ routines won’t make you more successful, but they can hurt your health Sherry Walling (Aug. 2023)
Consumer brand accelerator SuperOrdinary gets $58M Series B at $800M valuation
Catherine Shu (Oct 2023)
Recipe for Disaster: Impossible Foods CEO Says Plant-Based Meat Marketing's 'Wokeness' Hurt the Category Peter McGuinness aims to relaunch the brand to be more inclusive T.L. Stanley (Dec. 2023)
FabFitFun founders apologize after a profane X ad caused subscribers to cancel
Melissa Daniels (Dec. 2023)
AI / WEB 3 / CRYPTO
The architecture of today’s LLM applications Here’s everything you need to know to build your first LLM app and problem spaces you can start exploring today. Nicole Choi (Oct 2023)
BarbAIrians at the Gate: The Financial Opportunity of AI Alex Rampell (Aug. 2023)
BRAIN / MIND / HEALTH
The Sociopaths Among Us—And How to Avoid Them You’re bound to come across the “Dark Triad” type of malignant narcissists in life—and they can be superficially appealing. Better to look for their exact opposite. Arthur C. Brooks (Oct. 2023)
How Cocaine Rewires Brain’s Reward System Neuroscience News (Oct 2023)
Sequential Memory Is A Unique Human Trait Stockholm University (Sept. 2023)
by Lydia Hales (Oct. 2023)
Human intelligence: how cognitive circuitry, rather than brain size, drove its evolution Robert Foley, Marta Mirazon Lahr (Dec. 2023)
Chronobiologist and Nobel Laureate in Medicine Michael Rosbash: ‘Lack of sunlight during the day is worse than electric lighting at night’ The scientist studies the molecular clock mechanisms of bacteria, plants and biomedical research’s most popular insect, the fruit fly Aser Garcia Rada (Dec. 2023)
ART / LITERATURE
Three Poems by Arkadii Dragomoshchenko
Translated from the Russian by Lyn Hejinian and Elena Balashova. (Oct 1986)
The Half-Life of Hope Poem by Maria Popova Sept. 2023
Fiction: THE ONLY THING MORE HUMILIATING THAN VIRGINITY IS SEX
"One-Hundred Percent Humidity" by Michelle Lyn King, recommended by Electric Literature (Feb. 2023)
On the Ending of a Literary Journal John Freeman Says Goodbye to Freeman's (Oct. 2023)
Remembering Louise Glück, 1943–2023
By Richie Hofmann, Richard Deming, and Langdon Hammer in the Paris review (Oct. 2023) Only two American-born poets have won the Nobel Prize for Literature, Louise and T. S. Eliot. Eliot, who wrote lyric poems as dramatic monologues, fruitfully complicating the relationship between poet and poetic speaker, seems to me the crucial model for Louise’s poetry.
Louise Glück, The poet who taught me to write books
Meghan O’Rourke (Oct. 2023)
Poet and Nobel Laureate Louise Glück dies at 80
By Scottie Andrew (Oct. 2023)
Glück was one of the most-awarded American poets of her time, earning the 1993 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for her collection “The Wild Iris,” the National Book Award for Poetry in 2014 for “Faithful and Virtuous Night” and the National Humanities Medal in 2015 from then-President Barack Obama, among other honors. She was often praised as an accessible writer, whose work “makes individual existence universal,” per the Nobel Prize committee that honored her.
An Excerpt from our Art of Poetry Interview with Louise Glück Henri Cole (Dec. 2023)
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