“The Football Factory” – by John King

John King’s novel was first published in the UK twenty years ago. It has recently been reissued by PM Press in a handsome and suitably eye-catching edition for North American readers. Curious then that the title remains The Football Factory, because Americans think football is a game with helmets and and padding. More curious to…

An evening with the maestro: Juan Felipe Herrera comes to town

The 21st Poet Laureate of the Unites States came to little Silver City this week. The place will never be the same. Herrera was a hurricane of ideas, poetry, stories, music and love. In front of a packed house, he talked (and sang) about his childhood, about his days tending farm animals, about his father’s…

RIP Tom Hayden 1939-2016

On October 23rd we lost writer/activist/politician Tom Hayden. He’d lived a life of service in the pursuit of social justice. Hayden was one of the original Freedom Riders, journeying to the Deep South in 1961 and getting beaten up for his efforts. The following year, while in jail in Georgia, he drafted the Port Huron…

“The Writer’s Chronicle” tackles racism

This month’s edition of The Writer’s Chronicle contains three essays that deal explicitly with racism: “Ferguson, Whiteness as Default, & the Teaching of Creative Writing” by David Mura; “In Our Way: Racism in Creative Writing” by Claudia Rankine; and “Towards a New Creative Writing Pedagogy” by Fred D’Aguiar. Mura’s essay was, for me, the most…

“Europe in Revolt” – edited by Catarina Principe and Bhaskar Sunkara

On the long political journey we call history, Europe has crossed a bridge and lurched right. It isn’t alone. Barack Obama’s presidency – nominally to the left of center – has seen assassinations by drone, more deportations than any president in history, the failure to close Guantánamo, and not a single Wall Street banker prosecuted…

“Notes on the Assemblage” by Juan Felipe Herrera

Juan Felipe Herrera is a protean figure, a one-man dynamo: an actor, activist, professor, musician, author of thirty books, and now the first Latino Poet Laureate of the United States. His personal story is extraordinary. His parents were migrant workers, constantly on the move across California. He found an alternative path when he won a…

Seven Great Banned Books

In celebration of Banned Books Week – Sept 25-Oct 1 – here’s some great literature that governments banned at one time or another. Rather than the usual suspects — Lady Chatterley’s Lover, Lolita, the Harry Potter series (witchcraft!), and pretty much everything Orwell and Solzhenitzyn wrote — I’ve gone for a few of the more…

Brooklyn Book Festival, September 18, 2016

What a great festival! It was my first time. At the opening party for authors, Jacqueline Woodson was honored with an award and she made an excellent speech: humble, articulate and funny. My session was a reading for debut novelists and I was privileged to share a stage with Natashia Deón, R.J. Hernandez, Matt Gallagher,…