Writers Tournament Combine!

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ALL-TIME AMERICAN WRITERS TOURNAMENT 

WE NOTE the National Football League will soon commence their “Combine” used to evaluate new talent.

We at New Pop Lit have decided to conduct our own writing combine, examining renowned American writers past and present to ask the question: “Who’s good enough?” Who’s good enough to be included in the tournament’s remaining brackets?

Our crack commentators, @MelDiper, Norman Mailer, and Emily Dickinson will be back with us, covering this event AT the tournament venue as we winnow the field. Might be fun.

(We might announce the #8 seeds bracket first.)

Stay tuned.
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(Dartmouth photo.)

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Writers Tournament: #7 Seeds

ALL-TIME AMERICAN WRITERS TOURNAMENT

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(Stephen Crane.)
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Our latest entrants into the big event:

A.)  Stephen Crane.

For pure writing talent, few American writers match the author of The Red Badge of Courage, “The Open Boat,” and other classics. Decades before Hemingway, Crane saw writing visually, like a painting. His works are expressionist explosions of color and emotion.

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(Art: “Evening Sun” by Otto Dix.)

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B.)  Carl Sandburg.

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Sandburg’s poetry reflected his home base of Chicago: rough-hewn, proletarian, and real. A voice of the Great Depression of the Thirties. An American cultural giant in the Fifties. Thoroughly populist, his clear-but-strong poems were accessible to everyone.

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C.)  J.D. Salinger.

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He’s most widely known for his assigned-in-high school study of adolescence, Catcher in the Rye. But his best work is Nine Stories— nine well-crafted modernist gems of fiction synthesizing those twin pillars of American literature, Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald. One of the jewels contains the best short story title ever: “For Esme with Love and Squalor.”

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D.)  Kenneth Rexroth.

A forerunner of, and large influence on, the Beats, this San Francisco poet’s uncompromising work was more accomplished. Would Ginsberg’s “Howl” have been possible without the example of Rexroth’s powerful masterpiece, “Thou Shalt Not Kill”?

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Who Are the Other Two?

All-Time American Writers Tournament

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The #1 Bracket Seeds

Ernest Hemingway and Walt Whitman were the two automatics. This leaves us with two more slots to fill. Who else is on their lofty level? There are several candidates. The literary establishment surely wants Henry James up there– but he has a couple strikes against him. Other names seem to fit more comfortably as #2 or #3 seeds. Then there are the American Nobel Prize winners– but some of the winners have been ridiculously mediocre. (Bob Dylan is among their number, remember.) We have a rough idea of who else belongs at the top of the brackets, but are leaving a few hours, or a day, before  the announcement– which will appear first at New Pop Lit‘s News blog.

After all four top seeds are determined, there will be a news conference at the venue site, at which we’ll hope to get a few remarks from the Big Four. Could be exciting.

With no interruptions– or more rain– we might yet get this ambitious event rolling.