PAST IMPERFECT

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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Here's what to do in Louisville this week: Oscar watch party, Bourbon Classic & more

Literary

Anne and William Axton Reading Series. University of Louisville, Belknap Campus, 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 1; 10 a.m. Friday, March 2. Tess Taylor, author of the poetry collection “The Forage House,” and “Work & Days,” will read from her works Thursday, Bingham Poetry Room Ekstrom Library. She will lead a master class Friday, room 300, Bingham Humanities Building. Free.

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41st-annual Writers Week brings literary luminaries to UCR

The 41st-annual Writers Week was carried out from Feb. 12 to Feb. 17, bringing a total of 20 writers to the UCR campus to read from their selected works and address questions. From UCR faculty, alumni and internationally recognized artists spanning several generations, the voices heard throughout the event resonated with audiences young and old.

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Russia's trying to toss us an apple of discord. We mustn't bite.

Special counsel Robert Mueller's indictments accusing 13 Russians of conspiracy to meddle with the election have now given us a clearer picture of Russian efforts against the United States. Their strategy was simple: infiltrate groups on both the left and the right to heighten rhetoric, and use bots to intensify our discord. As Jonathon Morgan, chief executive of New Knowledge, which studies online disinformation campaigns, said to the New York Times: "The bots focus on anything that is divisive for Americans. Almost systematically."

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The Art of Publicity: How Indie Publicists Work With Writers

"If you want to learn about publicity, talk to a publicist." Tess talks with three indie publicists "about what writers should be doing for themselves, what indie publicists do on behalf of their clients, and how they’d advise me to think about shaping the way I approach getting my own work into the world."  Read more...

 

 

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Can we make 2017's toxic outrage into 2018's humanity?

This winter, just after I'd written an op-ed for CNN about gun violence, I received a bunch of notes, mostly lovely ones, in my inbox. Some were unpleasant, and among them two really stood out to me -- one threatened my life, while another truly charming correspondent wrote: "Women like you should just shut up. We were great at enforcing the Second Amendment before you all had the right to vote."  Read more...

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Do we love our guns more than our children?

Tess addresses gun violence in a CNN Editorial.

(CNN) - When I was 12, in the sixth grade in El Cerrito, California, one of my classmates brought a gun to school. She was a bright fellow student -- flamboyant, funny, sometimes moody -- occasionally in trouble, fun to play kickball with. I still remember her throaty laugh. I also remember the awful day while we stood on the play yard, as she pulled a gun out of her backpack and pointed it at a group of sixth-grade girls, threatening to shoot.  Read more...

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