so i found out today that my story “terra ignota” was a finalist for the dana award for short fiction. my little bridesmaid!
roger ebert died yesterday. in my youth he was one of those perpetual cultural figures on television and in the papers; i remember watching siskel and ebert almost religiously for a while, just around the age when i could plausibly sneak into an R-rated movie if i dressed up a little. siskel and ebert were funny and sharp, and they were my first experience with criticism, with a critic’s body of work and knowledge.
but i have since tuned out of television, and i am late to the party understanding that ebert was also well-read, well-spoken, and a gentleman. i have often felt bitter about the way education is perceived by many people in this country, and it is so wonderful to see, well, a fellow american who can appreciate both a good, lurid b-movie and the work of saul bellow or whitman; who looked for the same quality of empathy in film that i am learning to value in fiction.
in one of his blog posts that is now circulating—because it is about death—he has a reading of a wonderful cummings poem. and i am thinking, now, that poetry can be my bridge for a while, between reading for pleasure and reading for research. we all need to read more poetry—that most empathetic of empathetic arts, and perhaps the loveliest as well.