Elegy for Journalist James Foley, in Defense of Amazon, 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:

Poet Daniel Johnson elegizes his friend James Foley, an American journalist killed in Syria two weeks ago by the terrorist group ISIS, with a poem, “In the Absence of Sparrows,” and essay published by the Academy of American Poets. (Washington Post)

“While I don’t think my books are worthless, I also don’t have a lot of delusions about how much they’re actually worth.” At Slate, author Neal Pollack defends Amazon as making rather than destroying literary careers. Pollack writes that his career was flagging until Amazon Publishing picked him up in 2011; he has since published three genre novels and three novellas.

Penguin Random House begins a new era of publishing operations today with the formation of Penguin Publishing Group, a new unit that will house all of Penguin’s adult imprints. Penguin Random House’s president of U.S. operations and COO, Madeline McIntosh, will head the new unit; Susan Petersen Kennedy, the current president of Penguin Group U.S., will leave the company at the end of the year. (Publishers Weekly)

Hard Case Crime, a Random House imprint that publishes crime novels, will publish the lost pulp novel of Gore Vidal, Thieves Fall Out, in April. In the 1950s, Vidal wrote three mystery novels, a romance novel, and a crime thriller under separate pseudonyms. (New York Times)

The New York City–based children’s bookstore Bank Street, whose owners have been looking for a more affordable location since December 2013, will move to a new, smaller location in the city’s Upper West Side in February. (Publishers Weekly)

“To reduce literature to its usefulness is to miss the verbal texture, the excess, the sheer pleasure of word and sound, that makes it literature in the first place.” In this week’s installment of the New York Times Bookend series, author Adam Kirsch talks with film critic Dana Stevens about whether literature should be considered useful.

Actor and rapper Nick Cannon will publish a book of children’s poems, Neon Aliens Ate My Homework and Other Poems, with Scholastic in March. (GalleyCat)

Author Paul Anthony Jones rounds up the bizarre day jobs of famous authors. (Huffington Post)