Saturday, 13 October 2012

It's that time again...


The name has been revealed.

In amongst all the political upheaval over the EU getting the Nobel Peace Prize, the recipient for literature has been rather overlooked. Not that Mo Yan is a household name...yet. The first Chinese citizen to receive the award in its 111 year history, Yan is very much a product of the education of life having left school at 12 to work in the fields and subsequently serve in the army.

Indeed, praised for merging 'folk tales, history and the contemporary' with 'hallucinatory realism', Yan's best known books Jiuguo (The Republic of Wine), Shengsi pilao (Life and Death Are Wearing Me Out) and Tanxiangxing(Sandalwood Death) are embedded in culture and experience.

It is still in this humble attitude that the 'overjoyed and scared' author will receive his Nobel Prize for Literature in a lavish awards ceremony on December 10th.

The Conscientious Objector...


On this day...American poet Robert Lowell is condemned to prison for evading the draft in 1943. Considered one of the founders of the confessional movement, Lowell would go on to win the Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award and serve as the Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress - yet as a 26 year-old his words only seemed to get him into trouble.

Writing of his decision not to join WWII, Lowell said in his letter addressed to then President Roosevelt: 'Dear Mr President: I very much regret that I must refuse the opportunity you offer me in your communication of August 6, 1943 for service in the Armed Force'. Such a response earned Lowell a year long sentence served first in New York and then Connecticut - an experience recalled in his poem 'Memories of West Street and Lepke' from his collection 'Life Studies'.

Seemingly an ideologically headstrong cohort, Lowell was not the first, and will surely not be the last writer to suffer for their personal convictions.