Essential Joseph Brodsky, Poetry Africa, and More

Evan Smith Rakoff

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:

The first patent lawsuit has been filed against Amazon's Kindle Fire. Smartphone Technologies LLC, which in the past has sued Apple, claims Amazon's new tablet infringes on four of its patents. (paidContent)

The Guardian discusses a must-read book of essays, Less Than One, published in 1986 by the late Nobel Prize winner and poet laureate Joseph Brodsky. As a young man, Brodsky was arrested by the KGB for "social parasitism" and almost a decade later was expelled from Soviet Russia. His opening lines from a 1984 Williams College commencement address were: "No matter how daring or cautious you may choose to be, in the course of your life you are bound to come into direct physical contact with what's known as Evil."

Beginning next week, Durban, South Africa, plays host to the fifteenth Poetry Africa international festival. The three-day event features poets from twelve countries. As a precursor to the November United Nations’ conference on climate change being held in Durban, opening night at the poetry festival will focus on environmental challenges. (Witness)

In a recent post on his blog Book Deal, veteran editor and publishing-industry insider Alan Rinzler interviews three prominent acquisitions editors whose job is "to find the next big thing, especially that elusive debut author whose manuscript both inspires their personal devotion and appears to have the necessary commercial appeal."

Meghan O’Rourke, poet, critic, and author of The Long Goodbye (a memoir of the loss of her mother to cancer) recently published Once, her second book of poetry. O’Rourke writes for Slate about the George Herbert poem, "The Flower" which she returned to as she composed her collection: "At once poignant and piercing, it’s a poem I have long gone to in times of need."

In an interview for the Huffington Post, A Visit from the Goon Squad author Jennifer Egan speaks of growing up in San Francisco, the differences between the literary community there and where she lives now in Brooklyn, and dispenses essential advice for writers. "Make it such a part of your routine that not doing it makes it a stranger. You have to be willing to write badly."

If you're eager for a dystopian novel, such as Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale or, more recent, Gary Shteyngart's Super Sad True Love Story, Salon reviews Hillary Jordan’s When She Woke, which is a reimagining of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter.

Case Histories, the 2004 literary detective novel by Kate Atkinson, has been adapted for the small screen—the first episode of the series is airing on PBS's Masterpiece beginning this Sunday evening.

After Ugly Duckling Presse reached the end of its print run for poet Dorothea Lasky's chapbook of essays, Poetry Is Not a Project, the nonprofit arts publisher made the title freely available by placing it online in its entirety.