If Amy Newman’s On This Day in Poetry History is topping your must-read list, you’re certainly not alone. Poetry lovers here at EPL have been clamoring for a copy since the summer, and demand for her follow-up to Dear Editor only continues to grow. Described as a “dazzling new collection” by the NY Times, On This Day in Poetry History finds Newman exploring the lives of poetry heavyweights such as Sylvia Plath, Robert Lowell, Elizabeth Bishop, and John Berryman in search of that elusive “moment when a person becomes a poet.” A wholly innovative mix of biography and stunning verse, Newman’s latest showcases what Image praised as her “true mastery [of the] ability to play with language.” We recently spoke with the Northern Illinois University professor via email about rediscovering poetry in Manhattan, the history and allure of the “Confessional” poets, the challenges of biographical poetry, and how her favorite poem from the book came into being.
Prolific author Barbara Mertz, better known as mystery authors Elizabeth Peters and Barbara Michaels, died last week at the age of 85. Born in Astoria, Illinois in 1927, she received a PhD in Egyptology from the University of Chicago at the age of 23. Ms. Mertz wrote two nonfiction books under her own name, including Temples, Tombs & Hieroglyphs before her first work of fiction The Master of Blacktower was published under the Barbara Michaels name. As Elizabeth Peters she wrote the popular Amelia Peabody mystery series about the adventures of the feisty Victorian archaeologist, beginning with Crocodile on the Sandbank in 1975. In 1998, Mertz received the grandmaster lifetime achievement award from the Mystery Writers of America, the top award from the mystery writers group. Check out the library catalog for works by this “novelist of many names” and read the obituary here.