Adrienne Rich’s Feminist Beginnings, the Everlasting Shakespeare, and More


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:

At the New Republic, Michelle Dean considers the background and formation of poet Adrienne Rich’s radical feminist politics, and examines a collection of Rich’s previously unpublished letters with poet Hayden Carruth that “paint an intimate portrait of her intellectual and political awakening, one which has scarcely been seen before.” 

James Hannaham has won the 2016 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction for his second novel, Delicious Foods. The $15,000 award is given annually for a book of fiction published during the previous year. Read more about Hannaham and the finalists at the Grants & Awards Blog

At age fifty-five, Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney sold her debut novel, The Nest, to Ecco Press for a seven-figure sum. In an interview at Literary Hub, Sweeney talks about her path to becoming a writer, her decision to enroll in an MFA program in her forties, and her experience as a first-time novelist in middle age. “I thought: Am I the oldest-ever debut author? Thinking in those terms is such a cultural devaluation of female voices past a certain age. It’s unfortunate and I do think it’s starting to change. I think there is a groundswell of frustration about the privileging of young voices versus old.”

Author, editor, and Tin House cofounder Rob Spillman discusses his new memoir, All Tomorrow’s Parties, at the Los Angeles Times.    

“I like to think that what literature can do that op-ed pieces and other communications don’t do is describe felt experience.” Poet and nonfiction writer Maggie Nelson talks about her acclaimed book The Argonauts and how she aims to challenge binary ideas of sexuality by exploring in her writing “the subtle, bewildered places that people actually inhabit.” (Guardian)

Actor Ian McKellen has returned a $1.4 million advance to U.K. publisher Hodder & Stroughton for his memoir, which he was commissioned last year to write. Of his reasons for backing out of the contract, McKellen said, “The privacy of my life I don’t quite understand myself, and it has nothing to do with what I do for a living. So there you go, I’m sorry.” (Flavorwire)

“We speak of Shakespeare’s works as if they were stable reflections of his original intentions, but they continue to circulate precisely because they are so amenable to metamorphosis. They have left his world, passed into ours, and become part of us. And when we in turn have vanished, they will continue to exist, tinged perhaps in small ways by our own lives and fates, and will become part of others whom he could not have foreseen and whom we can barely imagine.” Ahead of the four hundredth anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, on April 23, Stephen Greenblat writes about the Bard’s global, enduring success. (New York Review of Books)