Academy of American Poets Receives $4.5 Million, Flatiron Cancels American Dirt Tour, 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 Academy of American Poets has received a $4.5 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, earmarked for the organization’s poet laureate program. Last year the Academy awarded grants from $50,000 to $100,000 to thirteen poets laureate of states, cities, and other regions across the United States. This coming April, ten to twenty new laureates will be inducted. (New York Times)

Flatiron Books publisher Bob Miller has announced that all remaining book tour events for American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins have been canceled, citing concerns over safety due to “specific threats to booksellers and the author.” In place of the tour, the publisher will organize a series of town hall meetings in which Cummins “will be joined by some of the groups who have raised objections to the book.” Miller also responded to specific complaints about the American Dirt publicity campaign, and acknowledged the publisher had made “insensitive” decisions. “The discussion around this book has exposed deep inadequacies in how we at Flatiron Books address issues of representation, both in the books we publish and in the teams that work on them.” (Publishers Weekly

In more American Dirt news, PEN America has issued a statement on the controversy. “As defenders of freedom of expression, we categorically reject rigid rules about who has the right to tell which stories. We see no contradiction between that position and the need for the publishing industry to urgently address its own chronic shortcomings.” 

Celina Su and Wah-Ming Chang engage in a dialogue via Google Docs. The two writers respond to each other through photographs, poetry, and prose. (Harriet)

Kristopher Jansma researches the complex history of J. D. Salinger’s novel Hapworth 16, 1924, and explores why the author decided not to publish it. (Electric Literature)

Katherine Hill reflects on the anonymity of Elena Ferrante, and what becomes possible when an author is “invisible from the start.” (Paris Review Daily)

The Observer New Review highlights the ten best British and Irish debut novelists of 2020.  

Juan Cardenas and Margarita García Robayo recommend fifteen Colombian novels. (Literary Hub)