Brown Bookshelf Issues Call to Action, Ta-Nehisi Coates Guest-Edits Vanity Fair, 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.

“I have not yet watched George Floyd’s murder in its entirety, but I have seen enough of the genre to know the belief in black people as disaster, as calamity, as a Great Fire upon the city, has not yet waned. Guest editor Ta-Nehisi Coates introduces a special September issue of Vanity Fair that engages the Black Lives Matter movement and national conversations about racism, police brutality, and anti-Blackness. Contributors include writers Kiese Makeba Laymon, Danez Smith, and Jacqueline Woodson.

“We, Black creators of books for young readers, urge the children’s literature community to imagine a new way of doing business, and abandon anti-Black and racist practices that perpetuate a system that marginalizes our work.” The Brown Bookshelf, an advocacy organization comprising children’s book authors and illustrators, has issued a call to action to address inequities in the publishing industry.

Novelist Matthew Salesses challenges the efficacy of empathy as antiracist action. “Antiracism is far less about empathy, about appealing to similarities, than it is about love, about honoring and protecting differences.” (Daily Beast)

Ruth Franklin considers Maria Dahvana Headley’s new translation of Beowulf—“brash and belligerent, lunatic and invigorating, with passages of sublime poetry punctuated by obscenities and social-media shorthand”—and the pleasures of reimagining Old English in contemporary vernacular. (New Yorker)

“[W]hat is the true meaning of justice in a society like an Indian reservation, where there are so few resources and there’s a terrible history of genocidal policies by the federal government?” David Heska Wanbli Weiden discusses the crime novel genre and its relationship to questions of social justice in his novel, Winter Counts. (Chicago Review of Books)

“From her isolation to mine, perhaps just as she intended, this has been the connection forged: an appreciation of one’s life as it is, without an inner voice intermittently wondering if this is how it ought to be.” Amrita Brahmo reads May Sarton’s Journal of a Solitude in search of solace in lockdown. (Electric Literature)

Essayist Helen Macdonald considers the deer as emissary of the sublime. “Not knowing very much about deer has made my encounters with them less like encounters with real animals and more like tableaux of happenstance, symbolism, and emotion. My ignorance, I think, has been purposive. It has been me saying: I wish there was more magic in the world. And then the deer have appeared to say, Here it is.” (Paris Review Daily)