The dazzling musicality of Derek Walcott, recipient of a Nobel Prize in Poetry, who passed away on Friday, March 17,2017 |

Nobel Laureate Poet Derek Walcott has died this Friday at 87 years old. Walcott’s poetry centered around his life in St. Lucia in the Caribbean, and with the complex colonialist legacy that created his world — but it contains multitudes, and it travels around the world as much as its voraciously erudite author did. By turns epic and compact, Walcott’s poetry has a dazzling musicality and lyricism. It begs to be read aloud; you can almost taste the words as you read them.

To celebrate his legacy, here is a stanza from In the Village, a poem about Walcott’s time in New York’s Greenwich Village:

Who has removed the typewriter from my desk,

so that I am a musician without his piano

with emptiness ahead as clear and grotesque

as another spring? My veins bud, and I am so

full of poems, a wastebasket of black wire.

The notes outside are visible; sparrows will

line antennae like staves, the way springs were,

but the roofs are cold and the great grey river

where a liner glides, huge as a winter hill,

moves imperceptibly like the accumulating

years. I have no reason to forgive her

for what I brought on myself. I am past hating,

past the longing for Italy where blowing snow

absolves and whitens a kneeling mountain range

outside Milan. Through glass, I am waiting

for the sound of a bird to unhinge the beginning

of spring, but my hands, my work, feel strange

without the rusty music of my machine. No words

for the Arctic liner moving down the Hudson, for the mange

of old snow moulting from the roofs. No poems. No birds. 

It’s a quiet, melancholy poem built around the idea of being unable to create poems, and it moves so naturally and swiftly that it might take a few readings to catch its tricky, irregular rhyme scheme (I make it ABABCDEEDFEFBGFHGIGI) and the subliminal musicality it creates.

Thank you for everything, Derek Walcott. You were so / full of poems.

Related Story:  Derek Walcott In The New Yorker 


#45 officially signed a cruel, anti-refugee executive order — Fusion

On Holocaust Remembrance Day—a somber day some used to remember those killed in Nazi concentration camps after being turned away from entering the U.S.—President Donald Trump signed executive orders implementing “extreme vetting” of refugees in an effort to keep “radical Islamic terrorists” out. “We don’t want ’em here.

via Donald Trump just officially signed his cruel, anti-refugee executive order — Fusion

Berlin’s mayor has a powerful message for Donald Trump about his border wall with Mexico — Fusion

Protesters of the environmental organization ‘Greenpeace’ display placards showing a part of a slogan at the Berlin Wall Memorial in Berlin, Germany, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017. Full slogan reads ‘Mr. President, walls divide, build bridges!’. U.S. President-elect Donald Trump will be inaugurated later the day. Michael Sohn/APThe mayor of Berlin, a city intimately aware of…

via Berlin’s mayor has a powerful message for Donald Trump about his border wall with Mexico — Fusion

January 27 International Holocaust Remembrance Day

The United Nations General Assembly designated January 27—the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau—as International Holocaust Remembrance Day. On this annual day of commemoration, the UN urges every member state to honor the victims of the Nazi era and to develop educational programs to help prevent future genocides.

Join the conversation and share your reflections about International Holocaust Remembrance Day on social media using #HolocaustRemembrance.



On January 27 at 11 a.m. EST, the Museum will host a commemoration of International Holocaust Remembrance Day. This program will feature remarks from the Honorable Björn Lyrvall, ambassador of Sweden to the United States, and a Holocaust survivor, musical selections with the US Army Band, as well as a candle-lighting ceremony and victims’ names reading.

 Join live at



Through March 5, the United Nations is hosting State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda. This powerful exhibition examines how the Nazis used propaganda to win broad voter support, implement radical programs, and justify war and mass murder. It emphasizes why the issue of propaganda matters and challenges citizens to actively question, analyze, and seek the truth. 

Additionally, UN Information Centers in more than 40 countries will host condensed exhibitions in nine languages featuring State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda.


The National World War II Museum is hosting State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda. It opens with a special event on January 26 held in conjunction with International Holocaust Remembrance Day that features reflections from a Holocaust survivor and a Museum educator. Visit the exhibition through June 18.


Paris’s Hȏtel de Ville, or city hall, will host State of Deception: The Power of Nazi Propaganda (L’État Trompeur: Le Pouvoir de la Propagande Nazi). Visit the exhibition in the Paris Rendez-Vous space from January 26 through February 27.


Misericordia University is hosting Deadly Medicine: Creating the Master Race, an exhibition that explores the history of the early 20th century international eugenics movement and the complicity of physicians and scientists in Nazi racial policies. It is partnering with the Maimonides Institute for Medicine, Ethics and the Holocaust to present two special events on January 26 and 27 in conjunction with International Holocaust Remembrance Day, featuring Museum historian Patricia Heberer Rice. The exhibition will be on display through March 14, 2017.


Learning about the Nazi use of propaganda advances our understanding of how and why the Holocaust happened and helps us identify relevant lessons today. In this brief clip, Holocaust survivor Bob Behr recounts his personal experience growing up in Berlin where he faced the power and pain of Nazi propaganda.

The aims of life are the best defense against death.     Primo Levi

On January 27, 1945, Soviet troops liberated Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi concentration camp. Italian chemist and writer Primo Levi was among those freed. The author of several books, novels, short story collections, and poems, Levi is best-known for If This Is a Man (aka Survival in Auschwitz), his account of the year he spent in the death camp, and his memoir told through the metaphor of chemistry, The Periodic Table. 


U.S. border agents turned away Canadians hoping to come to the Women’s March and because of this really questionable incident, they all will be required to obtain a visa to visit the US in the future

Five of 2016’s best books in translation | NPR 

NPR’s BOOK NEWS & FEATURES  December 25, 2016. 
Get A Global Perspective With 5 Of The Year’s Best Books In Translation by Juan Vidal
There’s a great quote by Haruki Murakami: 

If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.                                                              

 Haruki Murakami  

This, of course, is two-fold, because it also means that if you want to think more broadly and gain a larger understanding of the world, you will seek out lesser known books, and from different places. 

In 2016, small publishers like New Directions and Coffee House Press and lauded indie powerhouses like Melville House continue to bring many deserving international voices to the forefront. And in an election year that has many Americans wondering what in the bloody hell is going on around here, books from other parts of the globe can be a welcome treat to help counterbalance the chaos. So here are five of this year’s works of literature in translation. 

The Clouds, by Juan José Saer (Paperback, 160 pp) 
In The Clouds, first published in Spanish in 1997 and now translated by Hilary Vaughn Dobel, Juan José Saer tells the unforgettable tale of Pinchón Garay, a man who happens upon a floppy disk containing the absurd story of Dr. Real, a nineteenth-century physician. Is Real’s book a work of fiction? Memoir? This imaginative novel traces the journey of Dr. Real and his mentor as they work treating patients at an insane asylum in Argentina. Saer’s prose, while often likened to Proust, carries a beautiful quality that is also uniquely his. Page after page, The Clouds is a poem to be savored .

Memoirs of a Polar Bear by Yoko Tawada and Susan Bernofsky (Paperback, 252 pp) 
Originally published in German, Yoko Tawada’s Memoirs of a Polar Bear, translated by Susan Bernofsky, is broken into three sections, following the lives of three generations of polar bears. The grandmother (who “accidentally” writes a best-selling book), the mother, a former ballet dancer, and her estranged son, who is raised in the zoo by a zookeeper. The stories are imbued with art and politics, philosophy and a sense of longing. Yet for all the wonderful workings of plot and structure in Memoirs of a Polar Bear, what is truly affecting is Tawada’s writing, which jumps off the page and practically sings.

Reputations by Juan Gabriel Vasquez (Hardcover, 190 pp) 
Juan Gabriel Vásquez is Colombia’s most celebrated living novelist. In Reputations, translated by Anne McLean, he cements himself as one of the best doing it today in any language. It’s the story of Javier Mallarino, a respected political cartoonist who has made many enemies through his work at the influential newspaper El Independiente. Mallarino is seasoned, successful, and feared by many. But things take a dark turn when a young woman claiming to be a reporter interested in an interview enters his life. What follows is a suspenseful story about the ways in which our past can come back to haunt us, whether we like it or not. 

The Happy Marriage by Tahar Ben Jelloun (Hardcover, 305 pp) 
A masterful novel by Moroccan author Tahar Ben Jelloun, The Happy Marriage, translated by André Naffis-Sahely, delves into the complicated nature of one of society’s oldest institutions, marriage. Ben Jelloun tells the story through his characters’ two points of view: An embittered husband, an artist who has been paralyzed after having a stroke, and his wife, whose story is presented as a kind of counter-narrative addressing her husband’s claims – and who describes her marriage as a “certificate of my slavery, confinement and humiliation.” In this enlightening book, Jelloun brilliantly tackles issues of love, women’s rights, and the grief that inevitably comes with a deteriorating relationship. 

Ema, the Captive by César Aira (Paperback, 231 pp) 
With over 60 books to his name, the prolific César Aira is a creature of seemingly endless invention. His often brief — yet wonderfully bizarre — novels have long been praised for their odd twists and turns, his characters never landing anyplace you imagined they might. In Ema the Captive, translated by Chris Andrews, his words come fast and infectious. Originally published in 1981, the novel centers on a young mother, “a tiny, dark, deranged cloud,” who is held captive by soldiers. She takes many of them as lovers as she navigates a complicated life, which in turn makes her one of of Aira’s most absorbing characters. One of the Argentine master’s oldest works, Ema the Captive is also one of his most memorable. 

Get a global perspective with five of the best books translated to the English published in 2016.
Juan Vidal is a writer and critic for NPR Books. He’s on Twitter @itsjuanlove. 


In the wake of the election, we must resist the slightest extension in the boundaries of what is right and just. PHOTOGRAPH BY LIVIO MANCINI / REDUX

By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, DECEMBER 2, 2016 The New Yorker

America has always been aspirational to me. Even when I chafed at its hypocrisies, it somehow always seemed sure, a nation that knew what it was doing, refreshingly free of that anything-can-happen existential uncertainty so familiar to developing nations. But no longer. The election of Donald Trump has flattened the poetry in America’s founding philosophy: the country born from an idea of freedom is to be governed by an unstable, stubbornly uninformed, authoritarian demagogue. And in response to this there are people living in visceral fear, people anxiously trying to discern policy from bluster, and people kowtowing as though to a new king. Things that were recently pushed to the corners of America’s political space—overt racism, glaring misogyny, anti-intellectualism—are once again creeping to the center.

Now is the time to resist the slightest extension in the boundaries of what is right and just. Now is the time to speak up and to wear as a badge of honor the opprobrium of bigots. Now is the time to confront the weak core at the heart of America’s addiction to optimism; it allows too little room for resilience, and too much for fragility. Hazy visions of “healing” and “not becoming the hate we hate” sound dangerously like appeasement. The responsibility to forge unity belongs not to the denigrated but to the denigrators. The premise for empathy has to be equal humanity; it is an injustice to demand that the maligned identify with those who question their humanity. America loves winners, but victory does not absolve. Victory, especially a slender one decided by a few thousand votes in a handful of states, does not guarantee respect. Nobody automatically deserves deference on ascending to the leadership of any country. American journalists know this only too well when reporting on foreign leaders—their default mode with Africans, for instance, is nearly always barely concealed disdain. President Obama endured disrespect from all quarters. By far the most egregious insult directed toward him, the racist movement tamely termed “birtherism,” was championed by Trump.
Yet, a day after the election, I heard a journalist on the radio speak of the vitriol between Obama and Trump. No, the vitriol was Trump’s. Now is the time to burn false equivalencies forever. Pretending that both sides of an issue are equal when they are not is not “balanced” journalism; it is a fairy tale—and, unlike most fairy tales, a disingenuous one.
Now is the time to refuse the blurring of memory. Each mention of “gridlock” under Obama must be wrought in truth: that “gridlock” was a deliberate and systematic refusal of the Republican Congress to work with him. Now is the time to call things what they actually are, because language can illuminate truth as much as it can obfuscate it. Now is the time to forge new words. “Alt-right” is benign. “White-supremacist right” is more accurate.
Now is the time to talk about what we are actually talking about. “Climate contrarian” obfuscates. “Climate-change denier” does not. And because climate change is scientific fact, not opinion, this matters.
Now is the time to discard that carefulness that too closely resembles a lack of conviction. The election is not a “simple racism story,” because no racism story is ever a “simple” racism story, in which grinning evil people wearing white burn crosses in yards. A racism story is complicated, but it is still a racism story, and it is worth parsing. Now is not the time to tiptoe around historical references. Recalling Nazism is not extreme; it is the astute response of those who know that history gives both context and warning.

Now is the time to recalibrate the default assumptions of American political discourse. Identity politics is not the sole preserve of minority voters. This election is a reminder that identity politics in America is a white invention: it was the basis of segregation. The denial of civil rights to black Americans had at its core the idea that a black American should not be allowed to vote because that black American was not white. The endless questioning, before the election of Obama, about America’s “readiness” for a black President was a reaction to white identity politics. Yet “identity politics” has come to be associated with minorities, and often with a patronizing undercurrent, as though to refer to nonwhite people motivated by an irrational herd instinct. White Americans have practiced identity politics since the inception of America, but it is now laid bare, impossible to evade.

Now is the time for the media, on the left and right, to educate and inform. To be nimble and alert, clear-eyed and skeptical, active rather than reactive. To make clear choices about what truly matters.

Now is the time to put the idea of the “liberal bubble” to rest. The reality of American tribalism is that different groups all live in bubbles. Now is the time to acknowledge the ways in which Democrats have condescended to the white working class—and to acknowledge that Trump condescends to it by selling it fantasies. Now is the time to remember that there are working-class Americans who are not white and who have suffered the same deprivations and are equally worthy of news profiles. Now is the time to remember that “women” does not equal white women. “Women” must mean all women. Now is the time to elevate the art of questioning. Is the only valid resentment in America that of white males? If we are to be sympathetic to the idea that economic anxieties lead to questionable decisions, does this apply to all groups? Who exactly are the élite?

Now is the time to resist the slightest extension in the boundaries of what is right and just. is the time to frame the questions differently. If everything remained the same, and Hillary Clinton were a man, would she still engender an overheated, outsized hostility? Would a woman who behaved exactly like Trump be elected? Now is the time to stop suggesting that sexism was absent in the election because white women did not overwhelmingly vote for Clinton. Misogyny is not the sole preserve of men.

The case for women is not that they are inherently better or more moral. It is that they are half of humanity and should have the same opportunities—and be judged according to the same standards—as the other half. Clinton was expected to be perfect, according to contradictory standards, in an election that became a referendum on her likability.

Now is the time to ask why America is far behind many other countries (see: Rwanda) in its representation of women in politics. Now is the time to explore mainstream attitudes toward women’s ambition, to ponder to what extent the ordinary political calculations that all politicians make translate as moral failures when we see them in women. Clinton’s careful calibration was read as deviousness. But would a male politician who is carefully calibrated—Mitt Romney, for example—merely read as carefully calibrated?

Now is the time to be precise about the meanings of words. Trump saying “They let you do it” about assaulting women does not imply consent, because consent is what happens before an act.

Now is the time to remember that, in a wave of dark populism sweeping the West, there are alternative forms. Bernie Sanders’s message did not scapegoat the vulnerable. Obama rode a populist wave before his first election, one marked by a remarkable inclusiveness. Now is the time to counter lies with facts, repeatedly and unflaggingly, while also proclaiming the greater truths: of our equal humanity, of decency, of compassion. Every precious ideal must be reiterated, every obvious argument made, because an ugly idea left unchallenged begins to turn the color of normal. It does not have to be like this. 

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has published three novels, including “Americanah,” which is being made into a film. 

Europe Warns China Over the Detention of Hong Kong Booksellers — TIME

The European Union has rebuked China for impinging on Hong Kong’s autonomy over the detention of five men linked to a publishing house and bookshop carrying material critical of Communist Party leaders, warning that the territory’s status as an international financial hub was at stake. The owner of Mighty Current Media, Gui Minhai, turned up…

via Europe Warns China Over the Detention of Hong Kong Booksellers — TIME

Prince William Hasn’t Yet Told Prince George He’ll Be King Someday — TIME

Prince William said he and his wife Kate Middleton have not told their two-year-old son Prince George that he is a member of a royal family in a new BBC interview aired on the eve of his grandmother Queen Elizabeth II’s 90th birthday. “We are a normal family,” he told the BBC’s royal correspondent Nicholas…

via Prince William Hasn’t Yet Told Prince George He’ll Be King Someday — TIME