Recently by Richard Abowitz:

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Just as the controversy over PEN America’s award to Charlie Hebdo recedes into the distance a new issue has erupted over at AWP concerning the placement of Vanessa Place on a subcommittee. A petition at Change.org opens:

“We find it inappropriate that Vanessa Place is among those who will decide which panels will take place at AWP Los Angeles. We acknowledge Place’s right to exercise her creativity, but we find her work to be, at best, startlingly racially insensitive, and, at worst, racist.”

It did not take long for AWP to agree to the demand:

More… “Vanessa Place Vs. AWP, Woody Allen, and more”

Richard Abowitz is the editor of The Smart Set. Get in touch at rabowitz@drexel.edu.

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Loose cannon Pete Townshend of The Who gives a fascinating interview to Rolling Stone. Supporting his group’s latest last tour, a marketing fiction the guitarist himself has a hard time taking seriously, Townshend talks about his Sixties contemporaries Robert Plant and Bob Dylan as well as offering this moving death bed fantasy:

More… “Pete Townshend’s last wish, The Bloom (Harold), and more”

Richard Abowitz is the editor of The Smart Set. Get in touch at rabowitz@drexel.edu.

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There are few positions more prestigious than being named Oxford Professor of Poetry. A new one will be elected next month and if you would like to be considered, apply here. The current holder of the position is the very eminent and very English poet Geoffrey Hill. Previously Matthew Arnold, Francis Turner Palgrave, A.C. Bradley and W. H. Auden have all been elected to the post. There has never been a woman who has served as Oxford Professor of Poetry. But a new Facebook group hopes to change that. “A. E. Stallings for Oxford Professor of Poetry” was created last month to support the poet who is known in this country for her brilliant translation of Lucretius into rhyming fourteeners. So far the page has received over 100 “likes.”

More… “The Poetry Election, Bradbury, Sendak,
and Sun Ra”

Richard Abowitz is the editor of The Smart Set. Get in touch at rabowitz@drexel.edu.

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There is a must read profile of literary Darwinist and mixed martial artist Jonathan Gottschall in The Chronicle of Higher Education. Recounting how his academic career has stalled in the face of his controversial theories that English Departments and, indeed, literature can be saved by using evolution alone as the key to interpretation. Among his supporters quoted in the article are the great Nabokov scholar Brian Boyd and the professor and popular science writer Steven Pinker. The strangest moment in the profile finds Gottschall asking the author: “What sort of things would I have to say to get you to reach across the table and punch me in the face?”

More… “Literary Darwinism, the real Mr. Darcy and Charlie Hebdo tempest”

Richard Abowitz is the editor of The Smart Set. Get in touch at rabowitz@drexel.edu.

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Today brings nothing but sad news from the music world. Legendary songwriter Joni Mitchell has been in the hospital since March. Now TMZ is reporting that she is in a non-responsive coma. Her website denies this and claims she is doing well and heading for a full recovery.

“Louie Louie” singer Jack Ely has died. “Louie Louie” is a song so simple and righteous that for decades it was the go-to track for young rock bands who could barley play their instruments. The FBI famously investigated the song for obscenity concluding  the slurred version The Kingsmen released in 1963 was lyrically incoherent. Eventually Iggy Pop with the Stooges recorded a version that was unquestionably obscene. More… “Sad News from the World of Music”

Richard Abowitz is the editor of The Smart Set. Get in touch at rabowitz@drexel.edu.

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