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By Louis Mayeux:
The pre-eminent Faulkner scholar Dr. Noel Polk is likely more familiar with the great Mississippi writer’s work than anyone. He has edited corrected versions of all of Faulkner’s books.
Noel consulted Faulkner’s original typescripts to correct editorial changes made when the books were first published. Because of Noel’s painstaking work, readers now have Faulkner’s masterful novels close to how he originally wrote them.
I met Noel at the recent Faulkner & Film Conference at Ole Miss
Kenny Leon’s Broadway revival of August Wilson’s “Fences” has drawn overwhelming audience support, critical acclaim and awards recognition. Nominated for a best director Tony award for the show, Leon in directing a stellar cast led by Denzel Washington and Viola Davis shows deep understanding of Wilson’s language and characters. The production leaves no doubt that he is the foremost interpreter of Wilson’s work.
While the reputations of many baseball heroes lie shattered, Henry Aaron’s stature keeps rising. Now his truly remarkable American story is told in Howard Bryant’s “The Last Hero, A Life of Henry Aaron.”
Aaron rose from poverty in Jim Crow Mobile, Ala., to break Babe Ruth’s all-time home run record. As I was somewhat surprised to find out from Bryant’s book, he’s also at the top or near the top of most major offensive categories. Statistically, he’s the greatest hitter of all time.
I met Edward Hirsch a few years ago at the Indiana Writers Conference. He was a genial and generous workshop leader, blending a deep knowledge of poetry and its craft with easygoing humor. Along with his love of poetry, he’s an avid sports fan: his poem “Fast Break” in the collection “Wild Gratitude” captures the essence of basketball.
Since meeting Edward at Indiana, I have followed his career, pursuing his poems in magazines like the New Yorker and avidly reading new collections when they appeared. He has received numerous awards for his poetry, including the National Book Critics Circle Award and a MacArthur Fellowship. Now the president of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, he previously taught at Wayne State University and the University of Houston.