Black Mountain Institute Drops the Believer, New Book Series Honors Black Thinkers and Artists, 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.

The Believer is being shut down by its parent institution, the Black Mountain Institute at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, due to “strategic realignment within the college and BMI as it emerges from the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.” The announcement comes after a rocky period at the publication—current and former employees spoke out against “harmful working conditions” under former editor Joshua Wolf Shenk in an open letter earlier this year. Some members of the literary community have thus eyed the decision to close the magazine with some suspicion. “This just feels like clear retaliation for them feeling humiliated, that people spoke out against UNLV,” said one former staff member. (Los Angeles Times)

A new book series spotlighting venerated Black thinkers and artists, spearheaded by Henry Louis Gates Jr., is in the works at Penguin Press. Each book in the series will be written by a different contemporary author. Among the confirmed assignments: Farrah Griffin will write on Toni Morrison and Brandon Terry will write on Malcolm X. (New York Times)

White Whale Bookstore in Pittsburgh recently doubled its square footage by expanding into an adjacent storefront. The store held a grand opening last Friday. (Publishers Weekly)

“If Gary Paulsen taught readers one lesson, it was to always carry a hatchet into the woods.  But if he taught us a second lesson, it was to occasionally pack a notebook, too.” B. J. Hollars writes in praise of Gary Paulsen’s quieter novels, specifically The Island. (Millions)

“These conversations with Little God arose as a way to move into grief and loss, but also to consider grief as a numinous shade of love. It’s everywhere.” Avni Vyas discusses conjuring the titular figure in her poetry collection, Little God. (Rumpus)

“This book feels very much like it’s trying to make sure everyone sees that I have fists and they are curling and uncurling at all times.” Jane Wong appears on NPR’s Morning Edition to discuss the origins and ambition of her latest poetry collection, How to Not Be Afraid of Everything.

“An editor said that he thought I should publish for adults under another name. I could see what he was doing. He was belittling children’s literature. He was saying I wouldn’t be taken seriously. I said: ‘No way.’” Penelope Lively reflects on the scope of her career and writing for all ages. (Guardian)

“I’d like one day to have an entire room in my house dedicated to writing. I think more literal-minded people just call this a home office, but I prefer temple for the arts.” Chibundu Onuzo, the author of Sankofa, offers a glimpse into her reading life and writing process. (Entertainment Weekly)