paper trail

Kevin Young on silence and poetry; The “New York Times” is looking to acquire The Athletic

Kevin Young. Photo: Melanie Dunea

New York Times critic Jennifer Szalai reviews Scott Ellsworth’s The Ground Breaking, a new history of the Tulsa Massacre. The massacre took place in 1921, when white mobs killed the Black inhabitants of an entire block in the city’s Greenwood district and demolished their homes. Ellsworth details how the story has been covered up and suppressed; “Where the history of the massacre wasn’t obscured, [Ellsworth] found it distorted, deformed by conspiracy theories or attempts to both-sides it,” Szalai writes.

Poet and director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture Kevin Young talks with Paul Holdengräber about working with silence and negative space: “Sometimes I think people, when they confront a poem or are confronted by it, think only of the words. You have to think of the white space around it and the moment, the line breaks, the pauses, the caesura, that the poet is trying to get us to think about. If it was hip hop, we’d call it the breaks. In a museum setting, you were talking about these rooms that one moves through.”

The New York Times is reportedly in talks with The Athletic about purchasing the sports news site. The organization, which has notoriously poached sports writers from local newspapers in its attempt to become “the local sports page for every city in the country,” is not profitable, but has generated revenue from a partnership that involves gambling on sports. “Is sports betting a revenue stream that The New York Times is willing to embrace?” wonders NiemanLab.

For The Walrus, Steven Beattie writes about the state of literary criticism in the era of capsure reviews and Bookstagram: “Expertise is sometimes dismissed as elitist, but what goes missing in the absence of professional critics writing for a general audience is the understanding that a book is much more than a piece of sociology or an educational tract meant to instill a greater understanding of injustice or inequality.”

At Vulture, Molly Young, Mary Retta, Tope Folarin, Hillary Kelly, and more recommend books to read this summer, including new titles by Rivka Galchen, Kristen Arnett, and Akwaeke Emezi.