A Month of Modern Literature

LiteratureLiterature, a body of written works. The name has traditionally been applied to those imaginative works of poetry and prose distinguished by the intentions of their authors and the perceived aesthetic excellence of their execution. Literature may be classified according to a variety of systems, including language, national origin, historical period, genre, and subject matter.

Encyclopædia Britannica Online, s. v. “literature”, accessed July 28, 2015, http://www.britannica.com/art/literature.

Put simply, letters worthy of remembrance. I like that one. This month on Writing Prompts, our crew is examining modern literature. Of course, literature also includes poetry. There’s been a resurgence of poetry in the last few decades. If you’re a fan, you know there are some important works among modern poets. One of my favorites is Maya Angelou. Her haunting “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” touched my heart.

“The free bird leaps

on the back of the wind

and floats downstream

till the current ends

and dips his wings

in the orange sun rays

and dares to claim the sky.”

excerpt from I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou

A list for modern literature exists on Goodreads. It is pages long, and reminiscent of my high school reading list. I only read a few of those.

In my blog post last month, I discussed one I did read, written by John Steinbeck—The Grapes of Wrath. Yes, it was beyond my years when I first read it, but I was in awe of this story. You can read that post here.

Peruse the Goodreads list, and I’m certain you’ll find books you’ve read or movies you’ve watched. Everything from American Psycho to A Passage to India (one of my personal favorites), and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Okay, who made this list?

It’s evident we all may have differing opinions where literature is concerned. Yes, you will find Harry Potter books on that list—the reason my youngest reads now. Until Harry Potter books came along, he wasn’t interested. Don’t judge me too harshly—he was grown and married when he read those books. I had little say in his choice.

  • How would you define modern literature?
  • How will it be defined years from now?
  • Taking into account the glut of works flooding the market, which ones will remain?
  • How will our future selves define these days of “modern” literature?

The book snobs will definitely turn up their aristocratic noses at some of the stuff out there—in much the same manner as critics blasted the comic books when they first made their appearance. Now we have billions of dollars being spent on big, shiny comic book movies.

And don’t forget dime novels. I believe we still have those, only they’re ninety-nine cents these days and you can read them online.

I hope you’ll pop back in throughout the month of August and see what our crew discovers on their quest for modern literature.

That’s my little stash of classics at the top of this article. I’ve read and re-read them over the years. Some are quite old, but I keep them. It goes against my nature to toss out books. You may find these are on several lists of important novels. They definitely make mine.

Writing Prompt: Are you a poet? If so, compose a short poem inspired by this photo. Submit it via comments for a double entry in this quarter’s drawing for a gift card.

Sneakers on a Pier3