2020 MacArthur “Genius” Fellowships, Aracelis Girmay to Edit Blessing the Boats Selections, 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.

Twenty-one artists, scientists, and scholars have been awarded 2020 MacArthur “Genius” Fellowships. Among the cohort are writers Tressie McMillan Cottom, Larissa FastHorse, N. K. Jemisin, Fred Moten, Cristina Rivera Garza, and Jacqueline Woodson. Each fellow receives an unrestricted grant of $625,000 dispensed over five years. 

BOA Editions has named poet Aracelis Girmay the editor-at-large of the Blessing the Boats Selections, a new line of poetry books by women of color. The line is named after Lucille Clifton’s celebrated volume Blessing the Boats: New & Selected Poems 1988–2000 and will be open for submissions during the month of November.

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded a $750,000 grant to the Clifton House, a new artist space in Baltimore founded by the children of the late Lucille Clifton, due to launch in 2021. In a press release, Sidney Clifton, Lucille Clifton’s eldest daughter and the president of the organization, celebrated the news: “This generous grant will support development and programing, virtual and in-person poetry readings and workshops, writer and artist residencies, and staffing for this important project. We are thrilled that our vision and efforts are bearing results.”   

Eighty-five artists have been selected for the 2020 NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship Program and will each receive an unrestricted grant of $7,000. This year applications were accepted for five disciplines: craft/sculpture, digital/electronic arts, nonfiction literature, poetry, and printmaking/drawing/book arts. 

New Republic staff writer Alex Shephard shares his annual predictions for the Nobel Prize in Literature. “The only certainty about the Nobel Committee is that it does what it wants, while the only certainty about 2020 is that crazy shit happens all the time.” 

“When everything fits together too perfectly, I wonder what’s been left out. Truly honest books have to accept messiness.” Carlos Lozada reflects on the research process behind his latest book, What Were We Thinking: A Brief Intellectual History of the Trump Era. (Los Angeles Times)

The New York Times recommends five new anthologies, including Grabbed: Poets & Writers on Sexual Assault, Empowerment, and Healing from Beacon Press. 

The Millions highlights six new poetry books, including The Historians, a final volume from the late Eavan Boland.