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Grindr now has a poet-in-residence

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Constance Grady is a senior correspondent on the Culture team for Vox, where since 2016 she has covered books, publishing, gender, celebrity analysis, and theater.

Welcome back to the Vox book link roundup, where we curate the week’s best writing on books and related subjects. Below is the best the internet has to offer for the week of February 26, 2017.

Well, you certainly don’t go out anyplace less than dressed, not these days. Can’t let anybody mistake you for that broken, misused little girl: Eleanora Fagan. No. Let there be no confusion. Not in the audience or in your old man, in the maître d’ or the floor manager, the cops or the goddam agents of the goddam I.R.S. You always have your fur, present and correct, hanging off your shoulders just so. Take back your mink, take back your pearls. But you don’t sing that song, it’s not in your key. Let some other girl sing it.

There are so many rule-following, annoyingly-perfect, bossy older sisters in classic children’s literature, and — precisely because the reader is supposed to root against them in favor of the plucky, rule-breaking younger sister — I want to defend them all.

So, the beauty of the language, the vitality of the language — just like in the music — is a way of sustaining selves that are in the process of being crushed, demeaned, devalued, dominated, exploited, subjugated and so forth, and so, Baldwin does understand that life is a battlefield. Baldwin’s got that fusion of Athens and Jerusalem that is magnificent but is rooted in gutbucket blues, catastrophe and the lyricism as weaponry. Against what’s coming at him, you see.

It’s as if a zone is staked out for a variety of ideas and postures to flex and interact. This zone is the place where the arts play. It is not an apolitical place, it is just not owned by government. In this aesthetic space, the arts explore a less confined politics than the one that controls the state. The state is not the beginning, end, or the reason for this space.

Poetry and sex have a long and venerable history, one often being used in the service of setting up the other. Catullus kicked things off, and Lord Byron, Sharon Olds and Carol Ann Duffy, among others, have run with the ball since. The work of those poets is perhaps best thought of as the context for what I am doing now.

Happy reading!

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