Marathon Performance of The Iliad, Poetry for Robots, and More


Every day Poets & Writers Magazine scans the headlines—from publishing reports to academic announcements to literary dispatches—for all the news that creative writers need to know. Here are today's stories:

In August fifty British actors, academics, and politicians will participate in a marathon reading and performance of Homer’s epic poem The Iliad. The performance, which will be streamed online for fifteen hours, is part of the 2015 Almeida Greeks Festival in London. (BBC News)

Can robots learn to appreciate poetry? Inspired by Jorge Luis Borges’s theory that the same patterns of metaphors reoccur in poetry, researchers have created the website Poetry for Robots to test whether computers can learn to make the same poetic language associations as humans. Open Culture provides an overview of the site and experiment, which is a joint effort by Neologic, Webvisions, and the Center for Science and the Imagination at Arizona State University.

Although China was the guest of honor at BookExpo America last week, a group of authors including Jonathan Franzen, Ha Jin, Francine Prose, and A. M. Homes participated in a rally during the expo protesting the country’s censorship and imprisonment of Chinese authors. At the New Yorker, Christopher Beam reports on China’s presence at the expo and how, “if anything, the China-themed events highlighted the failure of Chinese publishers to sell books abroad, and reflected the challenges the country faces as it tries to improve its public image and export its culture around the world.”  

At the Millions, poet and novelist Chigozie Obioma writes about the importance of “audacious” prose in an era overflowing with minimalist writing: “It is therefore necessary that writers everywhere should see it as their ultimate duty to preserve artfulness of language by couching audacious prose. Our prose should be the Noah’s ark that preserves language in a world that is being apocalyptically flooded with trite and weightless words.”

Marta Bausells lists the ten best crowd-funded literary projects on Kickstarter from a new edition of Don Quixote to an anthology of prose written by fishermen. (Guardian)

Poets House in New York City will celebrate its twentieth annual walk across the Brooklyn Bridge tonight. Actor Bill Murray will lead the bridge procession, during which he and poets including Richard Blanco, Tina Chang, and Cornelius Eady will read classic New York–inspired poems. Proceeds from the event will benefit the Poets House library and its public literary initiatives.

The United Kingdom­–based children’s literacy charity Book Trust reports that fathers read to their children less than mothers do. According to the charity’s research, which was based on twenty-five hundred interviews of parents in the United Kingdom, 50 percent more mothers read to their babies than fathers. (Telegraph)