paper trail

Jo Livingstone on criticism in accursed times; a look at the Empowerment Avenue Writer’s Cohort

Jo Livingstone

In their acceptance speech for the National Book Critics Circle’s Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing, Jo Livingstone writes about the value of criticism in accursed times: “The upside to living, or at least writing, in a constant state of ‘emergency’ is that we begin to feel that the time for talking may be running out, and so we start to say what we mean a little more.”

At Vulture, Christian Lorentzen remembers Giancarlo DiTrapano: “He had hustle, and he had integrity. He followed his very rigorous tastes and never compromised. It would never occur to him to do so. When all you’ve got is an ear—and a perfect one—that’s also all you need.”

Columbia Journalism Review reports on Empowerment Avenue Writer’s Cohort, a program that matches incarcerated writers with journalists outside of prison. So far, authors have been able to place stories in the Washington Post, the New Republic, and Elle. CJR points out that aside from the challenges of writing while incarcerated, “The journalism industry poses its own challenges. Writers I spoke with bristled as the use of ‘inmate’ to describe those who are incarcerated. [Rahsaan] Thomas, who has been described as an inmate by outlets he’s written for, sees the term as hypocritical and dehumanizing. ‘They’re calling us a noun that [conflates] who we are [with] where we are, instead of calling us people.’”

At FiveThirtyEight, an in-depth look at how being “anti-media” has become a key part of the way Republicans see themselves. In 2020, 10 percent of Republicans said they “trusted mass media” “a great deal” or “a fair amount,” compared with 73 percent of Democrats and 36 percent of Independents.

At Ssense, an interview with writer, musician, and director Brontez Purnell, whose book 100 Boyfriends was published in February: “My world is gay as fuck, I’m not trying to interact in straight people’s world at all. I just don’t care. There are more than enough things in popular gay hegemony that are talking to that.” For more on Purnell, see Kathleen Hannah’s 2016 review in Bookforum, as well as Purnell’s conversation with Mike Albo.

R. O. Kwon on why you shouldn’t heed the classic writing advice to “kill your darlings.”