I want to consider the work of the literary citizen, work that is too often senselessly specialized and fragmented. As a novelist and critic of fiction, I'll begin with a story about storytelling.
I met Bernard Malamud in 1966. I was an ambitious boy of 23, with a first novel about to appear, and the self-confident conviction that I could and should replace him while he took a leave of absence from his teaching job. He was leaving Bennington College for what turned out to be a two-year stint in Cambridge, Massachusetts; I drifted into town and was hired—astonishingly, I still believe—by elders who saw something in this junior they might shape.
I spent ten years writing my first novel, The Courtyard of Dreams. When the book was published in August 1993, by Doubleday, many good things happened. It was reviewed well. There were three foreign sales. Most of the first printing was sold. Then, after the book had been on the market for 15 months, I got word from my agent that it was being remaindered. What did this mean?
The Fault Lines of the New Political Landscape & the Aftershocks of America's Conservative Realignment-
Newt Gingrich, Speaker of the House of Representatives, has the skull of a Tyrannosaurus rex in his office at the Capitol. He also has a computer at a high desk, at which he can work while standing. An amateur paleontologist and a maven of the computer age, speculative historical fiction, and social reform, Speaker Gingrich has marshalled the Republican party into new prominence with political strategies that are-like the man behind them-eclectic, futuristic, and retrograde.
In a very perceptive essay in the December 1994 issue of the AWP Chronicle, the poet/critic David Lehman discussed "the relation of postmodernism to television and the movies." Lehman's essay doesn't focus primarily on poetry and postmodernism. It is about "postmodernism" in all the arts. Indeed, it is really about the epistemology that constitutes the ground of contemporary art and culture in general. But the implications of Lehman's remarks about the nature of poetry in a postmodernist climate are far-reaching.
Marcelle M. Soviero
Born in Knoxville, Tennessee in 1943, Nikki Giovanni attended Fisk University, where she graduated in 1967. A militant believer in human rights and an acclaimed poet, writer, teacher and lecturer, Nikki Giovanni has published more than twenty books of poetry and essays, as well as children's books.