Celebrating Censored Poetry, Capote’s Ashes, 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:

To celebrate Banned Books Week, the Academy of American Poets spotlights historically censored poets, including Charles Baudelaire, Geoffrey Chaucer, Allen Ginsberg, and others. The Academy will feature a different banned poetry book on its website every day this week.

“India in my poetry serves the same function as God does in Pascal’s universe. It is everywhere present, but nowhere apparent.” Pulitzer Prize–winning poet Vijay Seshadri talks about religion, the importance of defamiliarizing experience through poetry, and shifting between micro and macro perspectives in his work. (DiveDapper)

Meanwhile, Syrian poet Adonis reflects on poetry as a source of salvation for the conflicts in the Middle East. “Poetry cannot slit a child’s throat, nor kill a man or destroy a museum.” (Times of Israel)

Over the weekend, the ashes of In Cold Blood author Truman Capote were sold at auction for $43,750. Julien’s Auctions, the Los Angeles auction house that sold the ashes, did not anticipate the high selling price. (Guardian)

At the Spectator blog, Theo Hobson considers the “inhuman coolness” of a group of contemporary male writers—including Geoff Dyer, Ben Lerner, and Tom McCarthy—and argues that their writing is marked by an aversion to “higher” earnestness: “One must not display earnestness in the traditional domain of the human soul. One must be dispassionate on two fronts: the meaning of life (to be either religious or atheist is embarrassing), and sex.” 

Rion Amilcar Scott talks with fellow writer Roxane Gay about representing people of color in their work, and the failure of the capitalist publishing market to support more diverse voices. “If the market was going to save us by now it would have.” (Literary Hub)

In an interview at BuzzFeed, poet and recent MacArthur “Genius” grant recipient Claudia Rankine discusses the recent police shooting of black civilian Keith Lamont Scott, and the subsequent protests in Charlotte, North Carolina. “We are in a state of emergency, and as American citizens, we should acknowledge it. Silence is a form of complicity.” Rankine also talks about what an updated version of her 2014 book, Citizen, would look like.