2019 National Book Awards, Climate Poetics, and More


Every day Poets & Writers Magazine scans the headlines—publishing reports, literary dispatches, academic announcements, and more—for all the news that creative writers need to know. Here are today’s stories.

The winners of the seventieth annual National Book Awards were announced in a ceremony at Cipriani Wall Street in New York City yesterday evening. Susan Choi won the award in fiction for Trust Exercise; Sarah M. Broom won the award in nonfiction for The Yellow House; Arthur Sze won the award in poetry for Sight Lines; Martin W. Sandler won the award in young people’s literature for 1919 The Year That Changed America; and László Krasznahorkai and Ottilie Mulzet took home the award in translated literature for Baron Wenckheim’s Homecoming. 

Simon Armitage, the United Kingdom’s twenty-first poet laureate, has announced he will use his laureate’s honorarium to found a new annual award, the Laurel prize, for poetry that concerns environmental topics. “It’s come about because of the obvious environmental concerns, and in recognition of this growing body of work in poetry addressing climate change and the climate crisis,” said Armitage. The first prize will be awarded in May 2020. (Guardian)

Meanwhile, Oxford Dictionaries has named “climate emergency” its 2019 Word of the Year. This year’s shortlist was exclusively environment-themed, including words such as “extinction” and “eco-anxiety.” (New York Times)

At the Paris Review Daily, Michael Chabon celebrates the work and legacy of Ursula K. Le Guin. While other writers might sneer at genre fiction, Chabon says, Le Guin knew fantasy and science fiction were literary traditions rich with possibility. “She rarely strayed beyond the boundaries of genre; instead she expanded them.”

Leigh Camacho Rourks talks to the Rumpus Book Club about her debut story collection, Moon Trees and Other Orphans. She discusses the origins of the collection and representing the monstrous on the page

Martha Nakagawa revisits John Okada’s 1957 novel, No-No Boy, and raises concerns about the limits of his representation of Japanese American protest during World War II. “I believe that John Okada deserves credit for framing his book around the character of a resister, but he missed the opportunity to portray the depth and breadth of principled protest in the camp.” (Margins)

At Literary Hub, Maitreyi Anantharaman reexamines the history and tradition of the debutante, turning to characters from Jane Austen and Anne Brontë, among other figures, for reference. 

Matthew Duffus reflects on his path to publication and finding the publishing industry outside of New York City. (Millions)