Barnes & Noble Workers Petition New Jersey Governor, Joy Harjo Appointed for Second Term as Poet Laureate, and More

by Staff

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.

Over the course of April, workers at the Barnes & Noble distribution warehouse in Monroe Township, New Jersey, have been voicing concerns about workplace safety after multiple employees at the facility tested positive for coronavirus. Barnes & Noble insists that it has since implemented effective safety and cleaning measures, and has resisted calls from workers to close the facility for two weeks to allow for extra cleaning and to provide paid time off for all workers during that period. On Tuesday a group of employees submitted a petition to Governor Phil Murphy asking that he overrule the company and close the warehouse. (

The Library of Congress has appointed Joy Harjo to serve a second term as poet laureate of the United States. During her second year, Harjo plans to focus on developing her signature laureate project, “Living Nations, Living Words: A Map of First Peoples Poetry,” a digital archive that will document and celebrate the work of contemporary Native American poets. Harjo is the nation’s twenty-third poet laureate and the first Native American writer to hold the position. (New York Times)

Paisley Rekdal, the poet laureate of Utah, has also been at work on a digital mapping project. Salt Lake City Weekly reports on her new website, Mapping Literary Utah, an archive of Utah writers past and present that can be searched by region or genre.  

Niall McArdle reports on how the Irish literary community is adapting to the coronavirus pandemic and highlights a number of new digital projects. McArdle recently helped launch Pendemic, an online platform and journal that invites writers to document the age of coronavirus as it unfolds. (Irish Times)

Ho Sok Fong describes working with Natascha Bruce, who translated her story collection Lake Like a Mirror into English. “Usually we avoid explaining our own work. But when that necessity arises, you then have to re-read the stories, and the process shocks into revival those ideas and memories that were hazy when you first put pen to paper.” (Electric Literature)

“I’ve always been preoccupied with how our interactions have ramifications on other people. Not just our individual lives, or the arc of the story we think we’re living in, but how it affects the people around us.” At the Margins, Catherine Chung reflects on how her upbringing informed her understanding of storytelling.   

Aaron Timms on the act of walking during the pandemic. “We walk to escape the trauma of the pandemic, only to relive it all over again by walking.” (n+1)

Amy Shearn writes in praise of libraries. She recalls the magic of wandering the shelves with her children, finding unexpected books together, and being able to say, “Let’s get every single one.” (Human Parts)

And the Daily Shout-Out goes to Poetry Society of New York and Pandemic Poems, who have organized “Pandemic Poems: May Day,” a collaborative poetry experiment in which participants are matched with a partner and then tasked with writing a sonnet together over the course of a single day. Registration is free, and the event will take place tomorrow, May 1.