David W. Blight Wins Parkman Prize, George Saunders on the 2020 Candidates, 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.

Historian David W. Blight has won the Francis Parkman Prize for his biography Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom. Presented by the Society of American Historians for a work “distinguished by its literary merit,” the prize is the third major honor Blight’s book has received in as many months. The biography, which won the Pulitzer and Lincoln prizes, has also been optioned by Barack and Michelle Obama for a Netflix film. (StarTribune)

“If you’re a writer and you think, as I do, that writing has political efficacy, it’s interesting to think that all those great writers in nineteenth-century Russia, probably the pinnacle of certainly the short story—and then it all went to hell. So, did fiction keep the Revolution sane? No, it didn’t.” Novelists George and Paula Saunders discuss political efficacy and the 2020 Democratic Candidates. (Literary Hub)

At the Rumpus, Kali Fajardo-Anstine describes her debut story collectionSabrina & Corina, as a gift to her people. “I am an old soul and an old voice, a voice which I have been given from my ancestors and my mother, from my aunties, and from my great grandmother.”

“Life with children reminds me always of why writing feels essential: At its best and most rigorous, it illuminates—both for writer and reader—the richness and complexity of the human world, and forces us to make a deep moral consideration of our role in it.” Ten questions for Julie Orringer, whose new novel, The Flight Portfolio, is out today from Knopf. (Poets & Writers)

U.S. poet laureate Tracy K. Smith has received the Harvard Arts Medal, an honor presented to a graduate or faculty member who has achieved artistic excellence and made a contribution through the arts to education or the public good. (Harvard Gazette)

Independent publisher Milkweed Editions has launched the Milkweed Fellowship, a paid one- to two-year fellowship designed to offer experience in book publishing for individuals who may not otherwise have access or means to pursue a career in the industry. Submissions are open through June 6.

At the New Yorker, fiction writer Lauren Groff talks about “Brawler,” her short story published in this week’s issue of the magazine.

“Once I’m actually enjoying a book, it really does feel as if the pages are turning themselves; I find myself reading in all the little pockets of time that were once reserved for the serious business of checking to see if my dishwasher pods have shipped.” Ben Dolnick on the advantages of binge-reading. (New York Times)