Best American Poetry Controversy, Salman Rushdie Talks Myth and Fantasy, 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:

Controversy surrounds the 2015 edition of Best American Poetry, which is released today. It has been revealed that one of the contributors, Yi-Fen Chou, is actually a pseudonym for Michael Derrick Hudson, a white poet from Fort Wayne, Indiana, who admitted to using the pen name as a strategy to get published. Sherman Alexie, this year’s guest editor who selected the poem for inclusion, issued a statement on the Best American Poetry blog explaining his decision to keep the poem in the anthology after learning of the poet’s true identity. (Washington Post)

Stephen King and Tobias Wolff are to receive the National Medal of Arts, the highest artistic prize awarded by the U.S. government. President Barack Obama will confer the award to King and Wolff at a ceremony at the White House on Thursday. (Electric Literature)

At the New York Times, Salman Rushdie discusses how myths, fantasy, and the philosophical debate over reason versus faith are incorporated into his new novel, Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights.

On Saturday, September 5, the National Book Festival took place in Washington, D.C., and featured panel discussions, author talks, and readings from nearly two hundred writers and publishing professionals. The festival also featured the first public appearance by Juan Felipe Herrera as the new U.S. poet laureate, during which Herrera announced his first project: a nationwide collaborative poem called “La Casa de Colores.” Herrera will set up a website where people from all over the country can contribute poetry; after one year, Herrera will select user contributions to create the final poem, which he hopes will encompass the diverse range of voices in the United States. (Guardian)

New Zealand has banned its first book in twenty-two years. The country’s Film and Literature Board has removed award-winning author Ted Dawe’s young adult novel Into the River from circulation following complaints from the family advocacy group Family First about the book’s graphic language and themes. (CNN)

Best-selling author James Patterson has donated £110,000 (approximately $169,135) to sixty-nine independent bookstores in the United Kingdom and Ireland. This donation marks the author’s third round of grants to bookstores in the United Kingdom and Ireland, bringing his total donation to £500,000. (Shelf Awareness)

Speaking of independent bookstores, Katrina Woznicki profiles popular San Francisco independent bookstore Borderlands Books, and how an unconventional sponsorship business model saved the shop from permanent closure. (Guernica)