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Literature

Quote of the week: Simon Armitage

Sina Odugbemi's picture

“If everybody’s reading poetry, it’s probably not doing its job. I don’t think it can or ever should be a frontline, popular art form. If it was, I wouldn’t be interested in it. The poetry I will always like sounds like a version of people talking, or singing, or praying. I’ve always thought of it as alternative, not a mainstream activity: a kind of refuge. It’s never been the new rock ‘n’ roll, or the new stand-up comedy or whatever else it’s supposed to have been. It’s still an art form of dissent – to the extent that it even refuses to get to the end of the page. It’s unbiddable!”

Simon Armitage is an English poet.
 

Quote of the week: Svetlana Alexievich

Sina Odugbemi's picture

“I love how humans talk…I love the lone human voice. It is my greatest love and passion.”
 
Svetlana Alexievich, an investigative journalist and non-fiction prose writer who was awarded the 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature "for her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time." She is the first writer from Belarus to receive the award.
 

Quote of the week: Svetlana Alexievich

Sina Odugbemi's picture

Svetlana Alexievich“People always speak beautifully when they are in love or close to death.”

Svetlana Alexievich, an investigative journalist and non-fiction prose writer who was awarded the 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature "for her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time." She is the first writer from Belarus to receive the award.
 

Quote of the week: Paul Beatty

Sina Odugbemi's picture

“You can’t tell somebody how to express themselves — you can’t. But I think you can tell people, ‘Hey, the way you’re expressing yourself, that hurts me.’ "


- Paul Beatty, an American writer and 2016 winner of the Man Booker Prize for his novel The Sellout. Beatty is the first writer from the United States to be honored with the prize.

The Bookmark podcast: Uncovering the literary talent of World Bank staff

Peter Kapuscinski's picture

Podcasts are more popular than ever, thanks in large part to the wildly successful This American Life produced, Serial, and the rise of smartphones and Bluetooth enabled cars, that allow listeners to stream podcasts practically anywhere.
 
At the World Bank Group, Senior Communications Officer, Richard Miron has produced a new podcast series, called Bookmark that explores the creative literary works of staff members.
 
Each week, Richard interviews a variety of staff members, past and present, who have put pen to paper and written books of their own. It’s not about World Bank books, but rather the expansive literary talent that work at the Bank.
 
Richard explains the thinking behind the series:
 
“The people of the World Bank are what makes the institution tick. They come with different experiences and from differing backgrounds. The aim of Bookmark is to show– ‘the literary side’ of those at the Bank, and to illustrate how their work has contributed to their writing and how their experience in writing has added to their work.”

The first episode features Agi Kiss, who currently works as a Regional Environmental and Safeguards Advisor. During her career at the World Bank Group, Agi worked in Nairobi, Kenya, managing a wildlife and protected areas project. She went on a number of safaris to explore the country.

Quote of the Week: Svetlana Alexievich

Sina Odugbemi's picture

Svetlana Alexievich“I am drawn to that small space called a human being … a single individual. In reality, that is where everything happens.”

Svetlana Alexievich, an investigative journalist and non-fiction prose writer who was awarded the 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature "for her polyphonic writings, a monument to suffering and courage in our time." She is the first writer from Belarus to receive the award.
 

Weekly links May 13: Bad science reporting, bad measurement, bad social science ethics, and good books

David Evans's picture
 
  • This week in macro measurement: “‘Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made’ said Otto von Bismarck. Turns out you can probably add GDP to that list.” Duncan Green gives a useful summary of The Economist’s extensive critique of GDP, how it is becoming decreasingly useful over time, and how it could be better.

Spike Lee’s ‘Chi-Raq’: The Maestro Handles Complexity Adroitly

Sina Odugbemi's picture

Chi-Raq movie billDifficult social problems are fiendishly difficult to communicate. For, these are issues about which experts disagree and citizen-voters, too. The causes are unclear, the solutions are unclear, and then there is the ideological deadweight that tends to drag meaningful debate and discussion all the way down to seedy depths. Above all, public debate on complex social problems also leads to framing battles: you frame the discussion to privilege the ‘solution’ you want. So, for instance: what do we do about homelessness in our cities? If you don’t want public funds spent on it, you frame it as an individual responsibility issue. You argue that the homeless need to pull themselves up by the straps of their dirty sneakers. If you want public funds spent on the problem, you frame the issue as a structural challenge. You ask for a focus on unemployment, targeted welfare schemes, improved care for the mentally ill and so on.

Chi-Raq’, Spike Lee’s new movie, tackles a horrendously difficult problem: the horrific and persistent gang violence in inner cities in the United States of America (and, by implication, several such places across the globe). His setting is the South Side of Chicago. The title of the movie is a play on Chicago and Iraq. The movie opens with these stunning statistics: while American deaths in the Iraq War between 2003 and 2011 came to 4,424, between 2001 and 2015 there were 7,356 homicides in Chicago. Think about that for a second: 7,356 homicides.

Quote of the Week: Junot Diaz

Sina Odugbemi's picture

"I believe wholeheartedly that the experience of reading powerfully invites the reader to reach out to other people, to form community when they encounter language that they do not understand.”

- Junot Diaz, a Dominican-American writer and author of critically acclaimed DrownThe Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award; and This Is How You Lose Her, a New York Times bestseller. The duality of the immigrant experience is central to Díaz's writing.  He is also a creative writing professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and fiction editor at Boston Review.