D.C. Arts Commission Reverses Censorship Measure, Michelle Obama on Donald Trump, 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 the wake of protests from Washington artists and arts leaders, the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities has reversed a controversial new measure to censor its grant recipients. On Monday the arts agency added language to already approved grants requiring artists and arts organizations to avoid producing work that could be considered “lewd, vulgar, or political,” or they would be at risk of losing their funds. The arts community protested, arguing that the measure infringed on their First Amendment rights. (Washington Post)

Another member of the Swedish Academy, the group that awards the Nobel Prize in Literature, is quitting. Jayne Svenungsson, who joined the academy last December, is the eighth person to quit or to be forced off the eighteen-member board of the Swedish Academy since allegations of sexual assault and financial crimes within the group broke last year. (CBC)

“Donald Trump, with his loud and reckless innuendos, was putting my familys safety at risk. And for this Id never forgive him.” In her forthcoming memoir, Becoming, Michelle Obama writes about her feelings on Trump, the racism behind the so-called birther conspiracy, and her struggles to conceive. The book will be released next Tuesday by Crown. (Politico)

French author Nicolas Mathieu has won France’s Goncourt Prize for the novel Leurs Enfants Après Eux (Their Children After Them), about teenagers growing up in a working-class region of France during the 1990s. The novel will be published in the United States by Other Press at the end of 2019. (New York Times)

U.K.–based publisher Saqi Books will publish a newly-discovered collection of short stories by the late Egyptian Nobel laureate Naguib Mahfouz. The as-yet-untitled collection, composed of eighteen stories set in Cairo, is slated for release in Fall 2019. (Publishers Weekly)

Sadie Dupus, the frontwoman of indie rock band Speedy Ortiz, has published a book of poetry. Mouthguard was released earlier this month from Gramma Poetry. (Marie Claire)

“Over the years I came to see that poetry was the best way we had of communicating, of really hearing each other.” In the latest installment of By the Book, Natasha Trethewey talks about the books and authors that inspire her. (New York Times)

Hear Trethewey read from her new collection of poems, Monument, out this week from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, in the latest episode of Ampersand: The Poets & Writers Podcast.

“It seems like things will turn around if we keep putting pressure on to make the good stuff happen.” Phoebe Robinson, author and cohost of the podcast Two Dope Queens, discusses intersectional feminism, her optimism about the future, and her second book, Everything’s Trash But It’s Okay. (Forbes)