2019 VIDA Count, MacDowell Drops “Colony,” and More

by Staff

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.

VIDA: Women in Literary Arts (VIDA) has released the 2019 results from its annual survey, the VIDA Count, which gathers data on gender representation in major literary publications and book reviews. Of the fifteen publications considered in the main count, only three published more than fifty percent women or nonbinary writers: Poetry, Tin House, and the New York Times Book Review

The MacDowell board of directors voted unanimously to remove the word “colony” from the organization’s name, citing “oppressive overtones.” Although the term had already been phased out in official correspondence for some time, staff members recently circulated a petition to advocate for the formal amendment. In a press release, chair of the board Nell Irvin Painter writes, “This name change is at once a significant step and a natural evolution consistent with how the organization is widely known.” (New York Times)

More than one hundred and fifty artists have signed “A Letter on Justice and Open Debate” that was published by Harper’s Magazine on Tuesday. With prominent signatories such as Margaret Atwood, Salman Rushdie, and J. K. Rowling, the letter criticized “an intolerance of opposing views, a vogue for public shaming and ostracism and the tendency to dissolve complex policy issues in a blinding moral certainty.” Since publication, the letter has been embroiled in controversy. Richard Kim, the enterprise director of HuffPost described the letter as “fatuous” and “self-important.” (New York Times)

Elyzabeth Joy Holford has been appointed executive director at the Vermont Studio Center. Chair of the search committee Major Jackson writes, “By a sheer display of compassionate leadership, social consciousness, and administrative experience needed to face the challenges of our moment, Elyzabeth Holford emerged as the leading candidate among a highly talented applicant pool.” Holford succeeds Ellen McCulloch-Lovell, who was appointed interim director in July last year. 

Lee Williams revisits the work of Jean Toomer to explore the legacy of code-switching in America. “Toomer’s cautionary tale posits that assimilation in American society is possible, but you must surrender your Blackness at the door.” (Electric Literature)

“Even in television and film, there’s a built-in audience of either a studio audience or the crew and other actors. This was the most solitary thing I’ve ever worked on.” Comedian Cameron Esposito talks to the Rumpus about writing her coming-of-age memoir, Save Yourself

The University of Texas Press has hired Dawn Durante to serve as its next editor in chief. Durante will be moving from her current position as senior acquisitions editor at the University of Illinois Press. (Publishers Weekly)

In a new episode of Entertainment Weekly’s special audio series on queer writers, artists, and thinkers, Leslye Headland celebrates Fran Lebowitz and Alexander Chee pays tribute to Justin Chin.