Ali Smith on Crossing Borders, Writers for Migrant Justice, 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.

“I think all art is political, since everything is political, it just is, and that anyone not responding in their aesthetics to a time of immense political ferment and speed-of-sound change and regression like this one we’re living through is acting every bit as politically as anyone who is.” Ali Smith talks to the Los Angeles Review of Books about borders, reclaiming the work of women artists, and being led by the momentum of the book itself in Spring, the latest novel in her seasonal quartet.

At BOMB, Nick Flynn shares how a difficult period of not writing informed his fifth poetry collection, I Will Destroy You. “I think one learns patience from writing terrible poem after terrible poem—it makes the moment when one seems to come alive that much more precious.”

In events held today in museums, bookstores, libraries, and performance spaces across the United States, hundreds of poets and writers are reading in support of the Writers for Migrant Justice campaign. The campaign will protest the U.S. government’s immigration policies; organizers seek to raise more than $25,000 in funds for detained and formerly detained migrants. Participating writers include Terrance Hayes, Juan Felipe Herrera, Rigoberto González, and Tarfia Faizullah. (Poets & Writers)

“Only dead people are allowed to have statues, but I have been given one while still alive. Already I am petrified.” The Guardian has published the first excerpt of The Testaments, Margaret Atwood’s hotly anticipated sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale that comes out next week.

In an interview at the New York Times, journalist and author Malcolm Gladwell talks about finding a friendly audience in podcasting, bypassing the critics, and asking readers to rethink trust in his new book, Talking to Strangers.

“When these people who have a platform pick our books, it means it’s gonna be read widely.” Nicole Dennis-Benn on Jenna Hager selecting her second novel, Patsy, as the August read for her book club on the Today Show. NPR charts how celebrity book clubs are connecting millions of readers with new titles.

A book bag printed with Gothic text and a mysterious red stamp is as ubiquitous in Berlin as the New Yorker tote is in the Big Apple. But where did it come from and what does it mean? (New York Times)

“My vision of a professor had changed enough to include someone like me: someone without a tweed jacket, a writer first, whose love and respect for the craft of writing fuel her commitment to teaching it to others.” Jennine Capó Crucet on finding a career within academia and challenging an institution based on exclusion. (Atlantic)

And Refinery29 rounds up the most exciting titles publishing this month, in a list that includes novels by Angie Cruz, Ann Patchett, and Jacqueline Woodson, and essay collections by Rachel Cusk and Leslie Jamison.