Dark at the Crossing

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“I think that’s one of the great things that fiction has the power to do: it allows you to create a character, a character you might find despicable or with whom you might not agree, but then give them the power to basically make their case as though they were making it before God.” Elliot Ackerman talks to PBS NewsHour’s Jeffrey Brown about his second novel, Dark at the Crossing (Knopf, 2017), which is a finalist for the 2017 National Book Award in fiction.

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Panopticon

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“The keeper put me in the cage      with the monkeys / Because I asked to be / Put in the cage with the monkeys.” Shane McCrae, whose most recent collection, In the Language of My Captor (Wesleyan University Press, 2017), is longlisted for the 2017 National Book Award in poetry, reads his poem “Panopticon” for the River Styx at the Tavern reading series.

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This Is Not a Fairytale

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“In between, your mind is full of trees. / And it’s quite dark despite the moon.” This short film of Laura Kasischke’s poem “This Is Not a Fairytale” was created by Laurent Barthelemy and Shizuka Kusayanagi for Motionpoems. Kasischke’s most recent collection, Where Now (Copper Canyon Press, 2017), is longlisted for the 2017 National Book Award in poetry.

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Dear White America

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“I’ve left Earth in search of darker planets, a solar system that revolves too near a black hole. I have left a patch of dirt in my place and many of you won’t know the difference...” Danez Smith reads his poem “Dear White America” at the 2014 Rustbelt Regional Poetry Festival. Smith’s second collection, Don’t Call Us Dead (Graywolf Press, 2017), is longlisted for the 2017 National Book Award in poetry.

Monica Youn

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“When you have left me / the sky drains of color / like the skin / of a tightening fist.” At a Writers With Drinks event in 2011, Monica Youn reads the poem “Ignatz Oasis” and others from her collection Ignatz (Four Way Books, 2010). Youn’s new collection, Blackacre (Graywolf Press, 2016), which is longlisted for the 2016 National Book Award, is featured in Page One in the September/October issue of Poets & Writers Magazine.

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Brief but Spectacular With Lisa Lucas

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“They make us more empathetic. They connect us to one another. They make people who are not like us more human.” Lisa Lucas, executive director of the National Book Foundation, shares her love of books and why reading them is so important for PBS NewsHour’s “Brief but Spectacular” series.

Hans Magnus Enzensberger and Tracy K. Smith

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“Even people who don’t read poems have poetry in their heads.” Filmed as part of the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative, this video features poets Hans Magnus Enzensberger and Tracy K. Smith, who discuss the nature of poetry and their creative processes. Smith's memoir, Ordinary Light (Knopf, 2015), is a finalist for the 2015 National Book Award.

Karan Mahajan

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"I didn't have any intention of representing India accurately or inaccurately. I had a story in mind and I pursued the story ruthlessly." Karan Mahajan speaks about his debut novel, Family Planning (Harper Perennial, 2008), and the creative challenges faced by a new generation of Indian writers. His second novel, The Association of Small Bombs (Viking, 2016), is featured in Page One in the March/April issue of Poets & Writers Magazine.

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