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Amanda Gorman is a rock star poet.

Mr. President, Dr. Biden, Madam Vice President, Mr. Emhoff, Americans and the world: (ed. my stanzas and line breaks which are probably not right) When day comes, we ask ourselves Where can we find light in this never ending shade? The loss we carry, a sea we must wade. We braved the belly of the beast. We've learned that quiet isn't always peace And the norms and notions of what "just is," isn't always justice. And yet the dawn is hours before we knew it, Somehow we do it, Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed A nation that isn't broken but simply unfinished. We, the successors of a country and a time, Where a skinny black girl descended from slaves And raised by a single mother can dream of becoming president, Only to find herself reciting for one. And yes, we are far from polished, far from pristine, But that doesn't mean we are striving to form a union that is perfect. We are striving to forge our union with purpose, To compose a country committed To a
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My impression of NK Jemisin's World Building in The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms.

  N.K. Jemisin brings many tools to her world-building, especially a focus on how power is distributed and contested by the clans of her peoples. The manifestation of power is evident throughout   The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms , but one illustration in particular is the division of nobles in the Consortium. Yeine comments on the inequity of their distribution, citing as an example that the city of Sky (including the palace) has one delegate, whereas the entirety of the High North continent has only two. A delegate’s task is “to speak for themselves and their neighboring lands,” but one fundamental question is whether the needs of these conquered nations can be accurately expressed in the only language of the Consortium: Senmite, the language of the Amn that “the Arameri had imposed… on the world” (ch 6). Jemisin mentions a number of peoples and languages in this first book of  The Inheritance Trilogy  including Nirva (a common tongue of the High North), the aforementioned Senmite, Tema

I Embrace the Keenest Foil

 My second book about Coda also stars a character of fluid sexuality, Saxi, streetwise, dangerous, and gently murderous. This is for NaNoWriMo and I'm writing 65000 words. Here's the progress so far: So the idea is to build up to it. I did this because I remember what happened to me in 2016, the last presidential election. I got knocked on my ass and had to play catch up. This time I am planning for it, so if it doesn't happen, it will just be easier. Right now, I'm just in front of where I need to be. If all goes well (for all of us), tomorrow I'll be pushing like crazy. :-)
The Revisioners by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton My rating: 5 of 5 stars A heartfelt intergenerational journey across two centuries of American history told from the perspective of two women, Ava & Josephine, whose families are victims of racism. The author uses the term "recycled racism" to describe their suffering, and it's precise. There are three narratives. Josephine is the daughter of a family in the antebellum South who are escaping slavery at Wildwood. She is also much later the matriarch of a family whose white neighbor wishes to befriend her (before she gets all kkklanish and sees Josephine as a beggar at the door). Ava, some 90 years later, also must dodge the strange demands of her white racist grandmother. Sexton does an amazing job of tracing the parallels of the paths of these two women. The prose combines pure poetry with a coarse heartbreaking tone that is soul-crushing. The characters become your old friends. It is sometimes hard going (because you kn

“That Bearing Boughs May Live”: What Did King Richard II Author for the World?

It is 2020, the Summer of #BlackLivesMatter, and this week, in a moment of uncommon synchronicity, the theater company who would (in another non-Covid-19 world) be performing at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park are instead presenting King Richard II to homebound Internet streamers. Today’s resonance of the Bard’s words testifies not only to word craft but also to boldness, for King Richard II articulates revolution against repressive political and theological systems. Moreover, its nuanced language cultivates sympathy, allowing us, in the words of Shakespeare scholar Ayanna Thompson, “to grieve the loss of something even if we think it’s the right thing to get rid of,” as pertinent to “Defund the Police” protesters as their counterparts in 1776 America, 1789 Paris, 1791 Haiti, and 1917 Moscow (The Public). King Richard II asks its audience to consider the legitimacy of overthrowing a Pope-anointed monarch without damning the usurper’s mortal soul, and within the play’s text, Ki

"Foul as Vulcan's Stithy": A Different Perspective on “The Mousetrap” and Its Intended Audience

William Shakespeare’s Hamlet illustrates how the dead can drive the living to fulfill their unfinished business. Armed with secrets of his murdered father’s specter, Hamlet conceives “The Mousetrap,” a play within a play, its stated purpose—"to catch the conscience of the king,” his uncle Claudius—though Hamlet himself sabotages his gambit during the performance (Shakespeare 2.2.606). This alone, however, should not measure its success, for Hamlet’s audience is wider. Queen Gertrude is also targeted by the piece. Indeed, she is the prince’s true focus, and there is no question here of Hamlet’s glorious success, the ramifications of which condemn them all to tragic death. Though Hamlet mourns his father, he is more disturbed by Gertrude’s choice to speedily remarry his uncle. Maquerlot proposes Hamlet’s “disgust at the world” is “generated by disgust at his mother” (98). Hamlet’s revulsion is most dramatically demonstrated when he requests “a passionate speech” he heard performed

My 2020 Hugo Ballot

I have finished my Hugo reading for the year. My eyes are so blurry, but I am brimming with happiness. Here are my choices along with a brief word on each category:  Best Novel  Gideon the Ninth , by Tamsyn Muir (Tor.com Publishing) The Light Brigade , by Kameron Hurley (Saga; Angry Robot UK) Middlegame , by Seanan McGuire (Tor.com Publishing) I read all 6 of the novels this year, and they were all spectacular. I would not argue against a vote for any of the others: the polar locked (both the planet and two characters)  The City in the Middle of the Night , by Charlie Jane Anders (Tor;Titan), the Leguinian dispossessing  A Memory Called Empire , by Arkady Martine (Tor; Tor UK), or the lyrical  The Ten Thousand Doors of January (Redhook; Orbit UK), by Alix E. Harrow. One reason I chose Gideon the Ninth  is because of its original voice. The protagonist is Gideon, the adopted cavalier of the Ninth House, who sees the world through a lens of sarcasm, tempered by humor, understandable in