Comey Memoir, Liu Xiaobo’s Last Writings, 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:

Former FBI director James Comey is writing a book about his career in Washington, D.C. The book, which is going to auction this week, is expected to fetch a large advance, with all the major publishing houses expressing interest. (New York Times)

The New York Times reports on the last writings of Liu Xiaobo, the Nobel Peace Prize winner and Chinese dissident who died last week while serving an eleven-year prison sentence. In the last months of his life, Liu wrote notes for a tribute to his wife, Liu Xia, to preface a collection of her photographs, “Accompanying Liu Xiaobo.” A Chinese editor is currently looking for a publisher for the book.

Rebecca Shoptaw, an undergraduate student at Yale, is adapting George Eliot’s Middlemarch into a web series. The new series reimagines Eliot’s classic novel through an LGBTQ lens. (New Yorker)

“So here I am—the son and the mother combined—who needs to take a big step back and do most of my grieving in private. My memoir is still out there for you to read. And, when I am strong enough, I will return to the road. I will return to the memoir.” Sherman Alexie explains why he canceled the rest of his book tour for his latest memoir, You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me, which covers his complicated relationship with his mother. (

Poet erica lewis interviews fellow poet Tyrone Williams about how music shapes his work, his aesthetic kin, and resisting the idea of “authentic blackness.” (Harriet)

London-based Marginalia Books is launching a new series of books, Marginalia, in which writers and critics annotate important texts with “scrawled epiphanies, esoteric streams of consciousness” and “ferocious scribbling.” The first titles in the series will be published in September and include annotations of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass and Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

At the New Republic, Evan Kindley considers the mystery and inscrutability of John Ashbery’s poetry in light of Karin Roffman’s new biography of the poet, The Songs We Know Best: John Ashbery’s Early Life, published last month by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

“That is what this enterprise is about. It’s about deconstructing our received history and reconstructing it in a way through poems and through prose in a way that helps us better understand it.” Tyehimba Jess talks with NPR about his Pulitzer Prize–winning poetry collection, Olio.