Challenged Books in Kansas Return to Library Shelves, Joyce Carol Oates Prize Longlist, and More

by Staff
11.12.21

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.

A number of books that were recently removed from libraries in a Kansas school district have been put back into circulation. A list of over two dozen books, which included Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give and Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, was under review due to a complaint from a parent, but the fact that books were removed while the review was pending drew national criticism. Jonathan Friedman of PEN America commented: “You have a single parent…produce a list of books, and the district says, ‘Sure, no problem. We won’t let anybody read those books because one parent complained.’” (KMUW)

Thirty-seven writers have been longlisted for this year’s Joyce Carol Oates Prize, which celebrates mid-career authors of fiction and comes with a purse of $50,000. The semifinalists include Kristen Arnett, Kaitlyn Greenidge, and Ruth Ozeki. (Publishers Weekly)

The recently announced Grant Program for Diverse Voices at the MIT Press will provide funds to authors “who bring excluded and chronically underrepresented perspectives” to their fields of study. Each year the press will award two to four grants in the range of $1,000 to $5,000 that can be used towards many different needs, such as research travel or family care.

Nyshell Lawrence continues to expand Socialight Society, her bookshop spotlighting books by Black women. So far Lawrence has operated Socialight as an online book club and pop-up shop, and this weekend she will open a microshop in downtown Lansing, Michigan. The microshop will be housed in another business, but Lawrence is raising funds to ultimately open her own storefront. (Shelf Awareness)

“Poetry felt close yet distinct, enough that it opened a trapdoor for me to access my characters and their inner lives. I repurposed certain kernels and images, and the new scenes unspooled easily once I’d stopped thinking about them.” Kyle Lucia Wu explains how a poetry class helped unlock her fiction. (Literary Hub)

“Sin is defined here in a non-religious sense, more as misbehavior or as behavior that cuts against convention.” Grant Faulkner discusses the different facets of sin represented in his new short story collection, All the Comfort Sin Can Provide. (Bomb)

“Who doesn’t want to write a ghost story? And it’s not only about a haunted bookstore; it’s about how we are haunted by history and how that alters the present.” Louise Erdrich reflects on the ideas at play in her latest novel, The Sentence. (Oprah Daily)

Electric Literature recommends seven writing residencies in Florida, including the Artists in Residence in Everglades program and the Hermitage Artist Retreat.