A Mountain of Books, a Crevasse of Rejection, 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.

Many readers will face a recurring question throughout their lives: What to do with that mountain of books piling up? For Otoniel Borda Garzon, it’s all about turning books into mountains—or something like them. The Colombian artist carves craggy topographical sculptures out of outdated maps, reference texts, and newspapers. (Colossal)

“There are many parts of Faber’s history that make me proud, but there is no harm in remembering how that history includes the occasional howler.” Toby Faber on the times his family’s publishing house turned down George Orwell’s Animal Farm, James Joyce’s Ulysses—and let’s not forget the disgruntled editor’s note dismissing a children’s book about a bear named Paddington. (Literary Hub)

At the Millions, Russell Rowland shares the other side of the rejection slip story: that of the author trying to find a publisher. “I’ve wondered why I would have been so willing to subject myself to being treated like a commodity, as the major publishers tend to do, rather than working with people who value your work for what it is.”

The National Book Foundation will honor lifelong activist and author Edmund White with the 2019 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. Lisa Lucas, executive director of the foundation, describes White’s work as “revolutionary and vital, making legible for scores of readers the people, moments and history that would come to define not only queer lives, but also the broader trajectory of American culture.” (Associated Press)

In an interview at NPR, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power talks about her new memoir, The Education of an Idealist, and describes how her approach to negotiation has changed over the years.

“If we wish to inspire future generations to embrace and value creative work, we must preserve the attributes that have historically seen the U.K. upheld as a cultural hub of talent. This means continuing to produce literature rich in diverse voices.” Holly Barrow describes how Brexit’s proposed immigration policies will damage the U.K. publishing industry. (Electric Literature)

At the MarginsMonique Truong discusses the research process for her latest novel, The Sweetest Fruits, and the risks and rewards of travel. “I think some people think that they become someone else, someone not themselves when they travel. I think we become our unvarnished, unmasked selves. If that’s indeed true, then it’s a paradox, yes? We travel far from home to be most at home.”

In an interview with Adobe Books, Tongo Eisen-Martin describes reading poetry alongside musician Marshall Trammell in their performance duo, ZNH. “Performing with Marshall is like making a deal with a distant universe.”