Black Artists for Freedom, Indie Publishers Under the Pandemic, 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.

Black Artists for Freedom, a collective of more than one thousand Black artists and workers, has published an open letter calling on cultural institutions to “commit to racial justice through material changes.” The letter seeks five specific interventions, including that arts organizations break all ties with police. “As Black artists and thinkers, we are energized by the current protest movement led by Black activists,” the letter states. “We hope to amplify the movement’s work and to call out our own industries for what they are: institutions that promote colonialism, capitalism, and racism, and that function in exploitative and destructive ways.” 

Publishers Weekly spoke to seven independent publishers about how the coronavirus crisis has affected business. While many are witnessing a decline in sales, a handful reported more optimistic numbers, in part due to renewed interest in certain backlist titles. Most offices will continue working remotely at least through August, while one publisher, Europa Editions, has decided not to renew its New York City office lease and has asked staff to work remotely indefinitely.   

“We are recognizing and naming injustices, but we also need to organize ourselves for collective action and sustainable community building.” Alicia A. Wallace finds a blueprint for liberation in Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower. (Electric Literature)

In a profile at the Guardian, Colson Whitehead discusses writing, the pandemic, and the ongoing protests for Black lives. “We have a botched pandemic, we have a militaristic response to peaceful protests, we have unprecedented corruption going on behind the scenes. It’s all happening at once in this horrible convergence and we are all witnesses to it.” 

The winners of the 2020 Trillium Book Awards have been announced. Awarded in four categories, the prizes honor Ontario writers and writing. The winner of the English-language open category is Shut Up You’re Pretty by Téa Mutonji. 

“Whenever I feel sorry for myself, I think, ‘Everyone in the world is going through this.’ That makes it much easier.” David Sedaris on weathering the pandemic in New York City. (New York Times)

Carter Sickels, the author of The Prettiest Star, responds to the Trump administration’s recent ruling that rolled back protections for transgender and queer people against healthcare discrimination. 

Marcia Trahan recommends ten memoirs that taught her to consider “women’s abundant psychological and physical resilience.” (Rumpus)