Brent Cunningham Steps Down at Small Press Distribution, Kaitlyn Greenidge on the Legacy of Black Spirituals, 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.

Brent Cunningham will step down as executive director of Small Press Distribution. The decision comes after the completion of an internal investigation, which was prompted several months ago after multiple employees accused SPD of workplace abuses, including wage theft and discrimination. Since the announcement, at least two former SPD workers have raised concerns that removing Cunningham alone will not be enough to address the issues at the company. Former employee J Worthen expressed dismay that the board failed to follow through on its promise to make the report from the internal investigation available to the public. (Publishers Weekly)

“There is the spiritual as it was performed for white people and there is the spiritual as our own poetry, as a way to understand the interiority of enslaved people, who were repeatedly assumed to have none.” Kaitlyn Greenidge writes on the history and legacy of Black spirituals. (T: The New York Times Style Magazine)

“What are the ways in which we cope and learn? What lingering effects are still with us? What are the losses that we have to live with?” Naima Coster shares some of the questions that informed her second novel, What’s Mine and Yours. (BOMB)

“A lot of the time I spend working on something is just the thinking time, as opposed to actually-writing time. Each essay and story represents a chunk of my life—usually years.” Jo Ann Beard on the pleasures of “living inside” a writing project. (Los Angeles Review of Books)

Patricia Engel and Imbolo Mbue discuss their new novels. “I think what Infinite Country and How Beautiful We Were both have is these stories that are very much rooted in home and the pull of home,” Mbue says. (Entertainment Weekly)

Publishers Weekly checks in with five independent presses based in the Midwest to ask about the ups and downs of business in 2020. After a difficult spring, sales improved for most of the publishers over the course of the year.

Thomas Beckwith highlights six books that released today, including The Arsonists’ City by Hala Alyan and The Seed Keeper by Diane Wilson. (Millions)

Leah Schnelbach recommends seven science fiction and fantasy books that are publishing this month. (Book Marks)