9 New Books We Recommend This Week

BE WITH, by Forrest Gander. (New Directions, paper, $16.95.) A Pulitzer Prize finalist for poetry in 2011, Gander brings a restive energy to his new collection of verse, scrupulous and unsparing investigations of separation, suffering and loss following the death of his wife, the poet C. D. Wright. “In many ways, the book’s focus is strikingly inward, showing how grief sounds in the body, mapping paths, making previously hidden regions visible,” Tess Taylor writes in her review. “In another sense, Gander’s poems are public howls that trace a luminous borderland where the self dissolves into the world.”

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Can't Find Time To Read? Poetry Might Make The Perfect Gift

If you have friends or family members who insist they have "no time to read," poet Tess Taylor says you should consider giving them poetry for the holidays: "We are all busy, and poetry is short," Taylor explains. "So you can actually reroute your day productively in like five minutes with something that really captures your imagination, takes you to a different place, and then allows you to return a little altered — which is I think what we all want from reading."

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Tess Taylor on Frankenstein, Zadie Smith, and Omnivorous Reading

Welcome to Secrets of the Book Critics, in which books journalists from around the US and beyond share their thoughts on beloved classics, overlooked recent gems, misconceptions about the industry, and the changing nature of literary criticism in the age of social media. Each week we’ll spotlight a critic, bringing you behind the curtain of publications both national and regional, large and small.

This week we spoke to poet, critic, and NBCC Poetry Chair, Tess Taylor.

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New York Times Opinion Section

Not Burned, but Suffocated

Like much of wildfire-ravaged Northern California, my hometown is engulfed in a smoky, hazardous haze. This morning, a long red shadow stretched over my desk. The sun rose with the unsettling neon color of an orange highlighter; the shifty outdoor air, with its brownish-blue tint, subtly promising another day of toxic air, of sour smoke.

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I'm not shopping. I'm saving my money for the resistance

(CNN)Heads up, Republicans: I have an announcement. I just made some of the biggest political donations of my life. I made them to your opponents. I made them to candidates I might not even have followed years ago, senators and governors in other states. I live in California, in an area where I mostly agree with what my representatives are doing. To canvass in other districts where I support opposition candidates, I'd have to drive about two hours. Since I'm a working mom and I keep long hours, sometimes I just don't have the time to spare.

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Writers, poets and artists flock to the Bay Area for Irish festival of ideas and fun

The Irish Arts & Writers Festival is the place to be this October with talks from the likes of Paul Muldoon, Caitríona Perry and Fintan O'Toole. 

Fifteen Irish authors, artists, and poets will descend on the Bay Area for the third annual Irish Arts & Writers Festival this October.

The festival, which was nominated for IrishCentral’s Arts & Creativity Awards 2018, showcases the best in contemporary Irish arts & literature and takes place from October 12-14, 2018, in various locations around Los Gatos. 

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Two people testified. Then millions had their say

After the two had had their say, the millions had theirs. A wrenching day of testimony by Christine Blasey Ford and Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh over her claim that he had once sexually assaulted her (which he denies) set off a global torrent of reaction. It would continue even after a stunning twist Friday stalled what had seemed a march to confirmation.

By then, on social media, stories from women had piled up behind a heartbreaking hashtag, #whyIdidntreport, which became a spontaneous national repository of revelation and regret. 

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Kachemak Bay Writers Conference

The San Francisco Chronicle called Tess Taylor’s first book, The Forage House, “stunning”. Her second book, Work & Days, was called “our moment’s Georgic” by critic Stephanie Burt and was named one of the 10 best books of poetry of 2016 by The New York Times. Taylor’s poetry and nonfiction appear widely. She currently chairs the poetry committee of the National Book Critics Circle, and is on-air poetry reviewer for NPR’s All Things Considered. She was a Distinguished Fulbright US Scholar at the Seamus Heaney Centre in Queen’s University in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and was most recently Anne Spencer Writer in Residence at Randolph College.

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The thrilling tale that is getting me through 2018

(CNN)If you're like me, it's harder than usual to ease into back-to-school mode. Amid reportsthat US schools now have more security guards than social workers, our collective exhaustion -- as parents, and humans -- feels palpable. The news each day is brutal.

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As this issue was going to press, Barack Obama traveled to South Africa to give a speech commemorating the one-hundredth anniversary of the birth of Nelson Mandela. “I hope you’ll indulge me, despite the slight chill,” Obama said to the sizable crowd gathered in Johannesburg on July 17, “as I spend much of this lecture reflecting on where we’ve been, and how we arrived at this present moment, in the hope that it will offer us a roadmap for where we need to go next.” And he did just that. The next day, I was struck by a phrase written by Jelani Cobb for the New Yorker, which characterized our former president as “a man who grasps history as the living context of our lives.” This is a seemingly obvious principle, perhaps one many of us learned in grade-school social studies. It’s a theme President Obama has returned to throughout his years in public life. During his 2008 “race speech,” he memorably invoked Faulkner’s famous line: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” It’s a theme that resonates across this issue.  Read more…

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Waking up to a burning California

(CNN)Monday morning, by the time I woke up, the poet Brenda Hillman, who lives up the hill from me in Kensington had already posted a picture to Instagram of the eerie sky out over the San Francisco Bay: a layer of low-lying fog, blanketing the hills, a small gap of sky, and then above it a huge dark plume of looming smoke, lurking like a dark genie over the metropolis. Read more…

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