Barack Obama’s Summer Reading, a Literary Timeline of African American History, 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.

Barack Obama has shared his 2019 summer reading list, which includes the collected works of Toni Morrison, Colson Whitehead’s novel The Nickel Boys, Ted Chiang’s story collection Exhalation, and Téa Obreht’s novel Inland. (TIME)

Meanwhile, Pacific Standard staffers and contributors recommend twenty-five books to read this fall.

The New York Times Magazine asked sixteen writers—including Clint Smith, Yusef Komunyakaa, Jesmyn Ward, and ZZ Packer—to contribute poems and stories that bring to life key moments in African American history, from the first recorded landing of a slave ship in Virginia in 1619 to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

“A meticulous attention to language. A wild and reckless sympathy for humanity.” Marie Arana, author and former editor of the Washington Post book review section, discusses what moves her in a book and what she’s reading. (New York Times)

The Paris Review shares the short, author-less stories that Gabriel García Márquez wrote down in his notebooks or liked to share with friends, including tales of rabbits, neighbors, and lost explorers.

“In this age of mass shootings and hate-based violence, the poet Wallace Stevens’s conception of the imagination as a ‘necessary angel,’ ‘a violence from within that protects us from a violence without,’ occurs to me with fresh urgency.” Poet Deborah Landau on gun control and imagining a humane world. (CNN)

“What Lazarus articulates is a uniquely American ideal, a radical welcome that doesn’t presume anything except our common humanity.” Book critic Ron Charles responds to Ken Cuccinelli, the acting director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, revising a line of Emma Lazarus’s famous poem “The New Colossus.” (Washington Post)

“I break things. That’s how my curiosity works.” Poet Cody-Rose Clevidence talks about procrastination, living in the wilderness, and knowing when to abandon a project. (Creative Independent)