Yesterday marked the 100th birthday of Robert Hayden, who was the first African American to be named to the Library of Congress Consultant in Poetry position–what we today would call the Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry–in 1976. NPR commemorated Hayden’s birthday by featuring an archived recording: “In His Own Words.”
Over at the Los Angeles Review of Books, Alexandra Socarides takes a look at “The Poems (We Think) We Know.” Her exploration of place in Langston Hughes’s “The Negro Speaks of Rivers” shows us how the poem’s rivers “empty in places we don’t expect.” On hearing it, I immediately remembered Evie Shockley (another amazing critic who teaches at Rutgers, where Socarides received her PhD) speaking about Hughes on his birthday here at the Library. You can catch the webcast here.
On a non-poetry note, read Art Spiegelman discuss the art of mixing language and images, and coining the delightful term “comix,” at the National Endowment for the Arts magazine.
Finally, I cannot resist Salon’s piece which examines the role of zero as a concept in Shakespeare’s King Lear. As a complement, listen to Harold Bloom discuss Shakespeare here at the Library. Why is everyone so smart, and so wonderful? My brain is tingly.