Guggenheim Fellows Announced, the Science of Book Smells, 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:

On June 30, the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery will open an exhibition offering a visual biography of poet Sylvia Plath. In addition to portraits of Plath at various stages of her life, One Life: Sylvia Plath will also showcase Plath’s rarely seen artwork. (Hyperallergic)

With the aim to rectify the lack of vocabulary to describe the smell of old books, scientists at University College London’s Institute for Sustainable Heritage have developed a “historic book odor wheel” that analyzes particular chemical compounds in books with scents associated with them. (Guardian)

The John Simon Guggenheim Foundation has announced the 2017 Guggenheim Fellows. The twenty-eight fellows in literature include poets Ishion Hutchinson and Claudia Rankine; fiction writers Samantha Hunt and Viet Thanh Nguyen; and nonfiction writers Susan Faludi and Ander Monson.

“[Women] were relegated to Chick Lit, romance novels, our subjects were love and motherhood and other sexually-defined things. Modern Love mocks that, to some degree. It pushes back.” At BOMB, writer and performance artist Constance DeJong talks about the process and impetus behind her 1977 novel, Modern Love, which Ugly Duckling Press has republished to celebrate the book’s thirtieth anniversary. The new edition will be released May 1.

Is the Voynich manuscript—the fifteen-century codex often considered the “world’s most mysterious book”—a tome of secret knowledge or a medieval hoax? Cambridge University professor Eamon Duffy investigates the manuscript’s origins and celebrity. (New York Review of Books)

Amsterdam houses the oldest operating Jewish library in the world. Ets Haim (Hebrew for “Tree of Life”) was founded in 1616 by Sephardic Jews seeking religious freedom in the Dutch city; the library contains nearly thirty thousand works dating back to 1484 and more than five hundred manuscripts dating back to 1282. (Atlas Obscura)

Novelist Susan Choi recounts the decades-long process of bringing Donald Barthelme’s first novel, Snow White (1967), to the stage. The play premiered last Friday at the Catastrophic Theater in Houston. (New Yorker)