How Racism and Anxiety Restrict Language, the Surprising Comforts of Reading Agatha Christie, and More

by Staff
7.28.21

Every day Poets & Writers Magazine scans the headlines—publishing reports, literary dispatches, academic announcements, and more—for all the news that creative writers need to know. Here are today’s stories.

“I am not sure whether I still trust language, which so often fails us. That can be flattened and used against us when we express it honestly. That is picked apart for sport.” Amanda Choo Quan writes about how racism and anxiety restrict language and the self. (Literary Hub)

“In the bad early days of the pandemic, when many of us had lost someone and we were afraid to touch our mail, I fell in love with Agatha Christie.” Jamie Fisher considers the surprising comfort of the “orderly and manageable” deaths in Agatha Christie’s novels. (New York Times Magazine)

“Here we go again: The West is on fire.” Zan Romanoff recommends four books in a range of genres that help make sense of the fire crisis, including the academic text The Pyrocene by Stephen J. Pyne and the young adult novel Paradise on Fire by Jewell Parker Rhodes. (Los Angeles Times)

Poets from the Bay Area and Santa Cruz in California consider how poetry and poetry communities have transformed during the pandemic. “Poetry has always been a place to turn to explore the unknown and help people maybe make some sense of it,” says Farnaz Fatemi. (Good Times)

Amanda Gorman’s debut poetry collection, which is forthcoming from Viking Books in December, has been renamed to Call Us What We Carry. “I wanted to pen a reckoning with the communal grief wrought by the pandemic,” Gorman says. “It’s been the hardest thing I’ve ever written, but I knew it had to be.” (Publishers Weekly)

“Even though the book is not about food, I think the book is a lot about flavors. I’m thinking also about emotional flavors.” Laia Jufresa discusses her evolving relationship to food and the metaphors at the heart of her novel Umami. (Catapult)

“Pittsburgh gets very deep in the marrow of people who are from there.” Ed Simon shares how he came to write his latest book, An Alternative History of Pittsburgh. (Millions)

The United States Postal Service held a ceremony at the Portland Art Museum this week to launch its stamp honoring celebrated science fiction writer Ursula K. Le Guin. (OregonLive)