In the Saturday Essay, Scott Borchert wonders about the symbiosis of author James Agee and folklorist Harry Smith. Though it is unclear if they met in New York during the 1950s, “their works do converge —in spirit, perhaps, and not chronologically.” The “fever-dream” of Let Us Now Praise Famous Men complements the nightmarish quality of Smith’s landmark folk music compilation. Borchert offers parallel chronologies of two fascinating artists while challenging the timeline in the process.
Next, in a review of Alice Fulton’s Barely Composed, Casey Patrick delves into the multiple meanings of the poetry collection’s title. An “ominous undercurrent” creates a theme of anxiety. But Fulton’s “impish” collection also subverts the humorous with the “sinister.”
Then, in the Sunday Essay, Martha Bayne laments the incredible challenge of learning “silks”—the art of dancing, suspended in midair, between a pair of stretch polyester ribbons. Their “otherworldly elegance” clashes, literally, with the practitioner’s body. Bayne’s buoyant and lovely prose weaves a wonderful description of this “nymphic” art form.