Black History Month Reads, Dylan Thomas Prize Longlist, 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.

It’s the first day of Black History Month, and at Newsday Tom Beer suggests a reading list of recently released works of nonfiction, such as Zora Neale Hurston’s Barracoon: The Story of the Last “Black Cargo, and David W. Blight’s biography of Frederick Douglass. The Atlanta Journal Constitution recommends six more new titles, including Maurice Carlos Ruffin’s novel, We Cast a Shadow, and Tressie McMillan Cottom’s essay collection, Thick.

“For me, as a teenager, hip-hop was how I saw myself when I didn’t see myself in books.” In her latest young adult novel, On the Come Up, Angie Thomas introduces a new protagonist to Garden Heights, the fictional community of her best-selling The Hate U Give: Brianna, a teenage rapper who lives and breathes the genre. (New York Times)

Swansea University has announced the longlist for the international Dylan Thomas Prize, which confers £30,000 (approximately $ 34,294) for an English-language work by an author aged thirty-nine or under. This year’s nominees include Jenny Xie’s poetry collection, Eye Level; Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah’s story collection, Friday Black; and Sally Rooney’s novel Normal People. (Guardian)

Behrouz Boochani has won one of Australia’s most prestigious literary honors, the Victorian Prize for Literature, for his nonfiction debut, No Friend but the Mountains: Writing From Manus Prison. But the Kurdish-Iranian journalist was unable to accept the award in person; he is still detained on Manus Island, the Australian detention center he’s been held in since 2013. (NPR)

Amélie Wen Zhao has asked her publisher, Random House’s Delacorte imprint, to postpone the release of her highly-anticipated debut young adult novel, Blood Heir, after the book became the subject of social media controversy. (Publishers Weekly)

In Overlooked No More, the New York Times remembers Iranian poet Forough Farrokhzad, an icon of artistic, personal, and sexual freedom.

“All poetry is, in some fashion, an act of translation. We translate silences and ourselves for one another.” At the Chicago Review of Books, Peter Twal discusses his experiences of reading, writing, and publishing poetry, accompanied by poets Chase Berggrun, Heather June Gibbons, and Richard Scott.

In a highly competitive marketplace dominated by online purchasing and social media, publishers are looking for book covers to pop onscreen as well as on the bookstore shelf. Margot Boyer-Dry surveys the splashy prints and bold texts of today’s cover art. (Vulture)

And at the New Yorker, Katy Waldman considers the “hedonic appeal” of Random House copy chief Benjamin Dreyer’s new book, Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style. “The emphasis on grammar as a tool for self-expression, not just communication, feels evocative of an era in which online dogmatists periodically go scorched earth on punctuation marks or parts of speech that offend their sensibilities.”