Civil War Books, Defining Good Writing, 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:

In response to White House Chief of Staff John Kelly’s claim on Monday that “the lack of an ability to compromise led to the Civil War,” Ta-Nehisi Coates recommends five books to “make you less stupid about the Civil War.” (Atlantic)

“Subjective tastes, the reasoning behind a low grade or a rejection letter, is, for certain kinds of people, a well-disguised and acceptable form of executing one’s biases. Our idea of what is ‘literary’ or ‘intellectual’ derives from somewhere, has a history.” Marcos Santiago Gonsalez argues that the creative writing academy needs to do more than accept students of color—it needs to examine the sensibility and style of writing presented as good. (Electric Literature)

Meanwhile, Erik Gleibermann tracks the rise of Spanish-language curriculum in MFA programs, and visits the country’s only fully bilingual program, run by the University of Texas in El Paso. (New York Times)

“So this is how you and I have been walking toward each other maybe this entire time.” Poet Patrick Rosal writes about being mistaken for the help at the National Book Awards ceremony. (Literary Hub)

Warner Brothers will release a film adaptation of Kevin Kwan’s novel Crazy Rich Asians in August. (Deadline)

“What sort of citizen are you on paper? Privilege is being a little more permanent than others, being allowed to linger more in a place without people paying much attention to you. But when you’re not of privilege, you have to be more careful.” Deepak Unnikrishnan talks about temporariness, living in Abu Dhabi, and his debut novel, Temporary People. (Guernica)

Writer Jane Juska has died at age eighty-four. Juska was known for her memoir A Round-Heeled Woman: My Late-Life Adventures in Sex and Romance, which was adapted into a play. (SF Gate)

“I know I’m supposed to care about timelessness, but I don’t…. I think that it’s an unreasonable pressure to put on poets, and I think those poems are boring. They’re not really reflective of anything. Poems have always had time stamps.” Morgan Parker advocates for writing about the current moment. (Creative Independent