By James Harbeck
There has been much discussion of the Nobel Prize in Literature being awarded to Bob Dylan. I have no interest in weighing in on whether his work is Nobel quality—I won’t pretend to understand the judges’ criteria—but I do have some thoughts on the question of whether a songwriter is even eligible to be awarded the prize.
There is no Nobel Prize in music, or in songwriting. So we can’t say that he should be considered for a different category unless you think songwriting is more appropriate to the Peace Prize, or perhaps to Economics. No, if he’s getting a prize, Literature is it. The question is whether songs qualify as literature—whether, to be frank, they’re good enough, or whether they’re “just songs.” There’s something of a privileged-genre attitude, a white-marble image of literature (that is, the truly worthy kind of text) as being cool prose in dry books that silently dissects humanity’s problems, not in the noise of a musical performance.
This has about as much basis as the white-marble image of Greek statuary, which, we now know, was originally painted bright colours. We ought to remember that the novel, as such, has only existed for a few centuries. Narrative texts pretending to any literary merit were expected to be written in verse until early modern times. And why was that? Because the written literature was, originally, the lyrics of songs and chants and declamations to music. The vaunted Greek drama had not one word that was flatly spoken. The psalms of the Bible were for singing. Beowulf was incomplete without a harp to aid the recitation. The fact that we have peeled the spoken from the sung, and ultimately the silently read from the spoken, does not have any bearing on the human insight conveyed in the words. Poetry has been deemed worthy of the Nobel: Pablo Neruda, Seamus Heaney, and Wole Soyinka have all won it, and it is terrible to think that they might have been ineligible if they had, like Leonard Cohen, been driven by economics to set their poetry to music. (more…)
November 19, 2016
1 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Editors Toronto and Professional Writers Association of Canada, Toronto chapter members are invited to browse, buy, share, and talk about books, while also learning about how bookstores operate in today’s marketplace. On Saturday, November 19, beginning at 1 p.m., we will visit four independent, specialty bookstores in downtown Toronto. At each store, staff will meet with our group to share insights and answer questions about the store’s offerings and operations. Then we’ll have ample time to talk, to shop, and to talk shop before moving on.
Travel between the stores will be by TTC and on foot. The stores on our itinerary will be confirmed closer to the date.
The bookstore crawl will be run as the monthly program meeting for November.
The cost to participate is $5. To register, please click here.
All it takes is one email. That’s it. Just one ping, one click and your schedule is changed. Changed, of course, only if you say yes.
Which is what I did. And so, I am Editors Toronto’s new publications chair and, more importantly for this blog, the Editor-in-Chief of BoldFace. I, for one, am pretty excited!
So who the heck am I, you ask? To quote (and punctuate) my Twitter bio, I’m a Toronto-based freelance editor, feminist nerd, hobbyist photographer, music geek, former bookseller, wannabe writer, and work in progress. I’m also a traveller who recently rediscovered the joy of camping, and blogged about it.
My plan for BoldFace is simply to grow a good thing, to bring you articles about editing in its myriad forms, and to review books and other media that are relevant to what we do for a living. And I want you to participate! Leave comments, be they positive or negative (just be polite). Got a story idea? Pitch it! Be bold.
This article was copy edited by Ellen Fleischer
By Nicole M. Roccas
Nearly a year ago, I decided to strike out on my own and become a freelance academic editor.
It wasn’t a hasty decision—I was about to finish my PhD in history and had been considering career options for several years. During that time, I took on small, short-term copy editing jobs I found through friends or online job sites. Editing, I found, came naturally and complemented my tendency to be fastidious with written language.
Nonetheless, when I finally launched my own editing business, I encountered a steep learning curve. As I reflect on the past year, here’s what I’ve learned—and continue to learn.
The next few months are full of professional development opportunities through Editors Toronto! Follow links below for registration and other information.
Tuesday, September 27 (AM) – Usage Traps and Myths presented by Frances Peck
Is impact now a legitimate verb? Is it correct to write a couple ideas? Must you change till to until and reserve between for comparing two things? For anyone intent on preventing (not avoiding) word errors and avoiding (not preventing) usage myths, this seminar will help.
We’ll take an up-to-date look at some of the most misunderstood and contentious points of English usage and examine common errors that make it into publications. We’ll also count down the top five usage myths. Bring your most pressing usage questions to share with the group.