A Daily Dose of Tracy K. Smith, Nicole Chung on Writing for Yourself, and More

by Staff

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

Michael Silverblatt, host of Bookworm on KCRW in Los Angeles, will receive the inaugural Deborah Pease Prize. Sponsored by A Public Space and named after the literary magazine’s founding benefactor, the new prize is awarded to “a figure who has advanced the art of literature.” Silverblatt will be honored at a benefit party for A Public Space on December 6 in New York City. (A Public Space)

The Library of Congress, American Public Media, and the Poetry Foundation are collaborating to offer a daily poetry podcast featuring U.S. poet laureate Tracy K. Smith, who will read works by poets from around the world “and explore how poetry helps us better understand life, history, art, science, and more.” The five-minute program, The Slowdown, will debut on podcast platforms on November 26; it will be made available to public radio stations nationwide early next year. (American Public Media)

The Burlington Book Festival has cancelled a planned fundraiser featuring author and radio personality Garrison Keillor after overwhelmingly negative public reaction on social media. The festival’s founding director, Rick Kisonak, initially defended the event in a Facebook post on Sunday, writing that Keillor “is not (as some of you allege) a sexual predator,” but reversed his decision on Monday, stating “there’s a lot of anger and a lot of hurt, and I certainly didn’t want that, and certainly didn’t expect that.” Keillor was fired by Minnesota Public Radio last November following allegations of improper behavior by a woman who worked with him. (Los Angeles Times)

“I’ve been told these aren’t stories. It enrages me.” Rumaan Alam profiles Diane Williams, whose 784-page volume of collected stories was published earlier this week by Soho Press. The book contains more than 300 stories; their average length is a little over two pages. “For any writer, an omnibus collection is a triumph,” Alam writes. “To see years of Ms. Williams’ confounding fictions collected in so hefty a volume is like seeing snowflakes accrue into an avalanche.” (New York Times)

“I think it’s useful for everyone, no matter what stage of their career they’re at, to know it’s okay to write for yourself first—sometimes only for yourself…. I don’t think there’s always a rush. It’s okay to take the longer voyage.” Nicole Chung, whose debut memoir, All You Can Ever Know, was published earlier this week by Catapult, illustrates her decision to wait years to share her story by pointing to a favorite passage from E. B. White’s essay “The Sea and the Wind That Blows,” in which White describes himself as “a passionate but hapless sailor who has gradually learned to pilot larger and more complicated boats.” (Atlantic)  

Nicole Chung is one of five debut authors featured in Melissa Faliveno’s “ The Genre of Resistance,” in the September/October 2018 issue.  

“She reads with her whole heart — she’s thoughtful, insightful, and so precise in her observations.” Fatima Farheen Mirza, author of the debut novel A Place for Us, published in June by SJP for Hogarth, talks to J. R. Ramakrishnan about working with Sarah Jessica Parker, the imprint’s editorial director. (Electric Literature)

Fatima Farheen Mirza was one of five debut authors featured in “First Fiction 2018,” in the July/August 2018 issue; read an excerpt from A Place for Us

“The book is an elegy for how life passes through us, changes us.” Emma Cline revisits The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides. (New Yorker)