Elizabeth Alexander Named President of Mellon Foundation, Shakespeare Source Text Uncovered, 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 and writer Elizabeth Alexander has been named the next president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the country’s largest philanthropic organization dedicated to the humanities. Alexander is the first woman to hold the position. (Chronicle of Higher Education)

Meanwhile, the National Endowment for the Arts has announced its first round of grants for fiscal year 2018; the agency will award $25 million to nonprofit arts organizations in all fifty states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

Two scholars have used anti-plagiarism software to argue that Shakespeare extensively used a sixteenth-century book by George North, A Brief Discourse of Rebellion and Rebels, to inform the language, plots, and philosophies of several of his plays, including King Lear, Macbeth, and Richard III. (New York Times)

Jesmyn Ward, who won the National Book Award in fiction last year for her novel Sing, Unburied, Sing, has signed a two-book deal with Simon & Schuster. Ward will publish an adult novel that takes place during the American slave trade, as well as a middle-grade novel about a young black woman with special powers. (Publishers Weekly)

PEN America announced that American writer Edmund White and Irish novelist Edna O’Brien have won the 2018 PEN awards in lifetime achievement.

Meanwhile, Sebastian Barry has been named the next laureate for Irish fiction, a three-year post. He succeeds writer Anne Enright. (Guardian)

Are you a tea or coffee person? A British food historian who studies the use of food in Dickens novels argues that the Victorian writer usually gave his good characters tea and his more villainous characters coffee. (NPR)

Maggie Nelson discusses the myth of the first draft and why she keeps her work private when she’s writing. (Creative Independent)