I, Too Arts Collective to Close Doors, Calling for Diversity in Publishing, and More


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, Too Arts Collective has announced it will cease operations at the end of December, after reaching an impasse with the property owner of the Langston Hughes House in Harlem, where the organization is based. Founded by Renée Watson, the organization first emerged out of a crowdfunding campaign launched in July 2016, which allowed Watson to negotiate a three-year lease with the landlord of the historic building. In its three-year tenure, I, Too became a community space that hosted numerous bestselling authors and ran workshops for young students—all programming guided by Hughes’s legacy. “When I reflect on Langston’s Legacy, I think about his love for Harlem, the love he had for his people,” says Watson. “It is that deep love that inspired and guided us for three years.”

Kacen Callender reflects on their years working in publishing, and the experience of often being the only Black person at the table. Noticing the ways in which white editors often dismissed manuscripts about characters of color by saying “I didn’t connect with the character” or “I didn’t find the story relatable,” Callender reiterates the urgency of hiring more diverse editorial teams. (Publishers Weekly)

The Paris Review has announced it will award Richard Ford the Hadada prize, the magazine’s annual lifetime achievement award inaugurated in 2003 and bestowed on the likes of Joan Didion, John Ashbery, and, most recently, Deborah Eisenberg. The 2020 prize will be presented by Bruce Springsteen at the Review’s Spring Revel in April next year.  

Daphne Merkin reflects on the deaths of two close friends, Barbara Probst Solomon and James Atlas, who were both writers and editors. Through her memories of the two, Merkin considers the broader literary community to which they all belonged, and mourns how it has shifted and faded in the present day. “The garden that once bustled with stimulating literary presences seems inhabited mostly by formidable ghosts. And the shadows that they cast seem ever longer.” (New York Review of Books)

Thessaly La Force traces the history of the 1957 novel No-No Boy, written by second generation Japanese American John Okada. No-No Boy concerns the alienation experienced by Japanese Americans after World War II—their communities irreversibly changed by their expulsion from their homes and internment in concentration camps. (New York Times Style Magazine)

At the Guardian, Lidija Haas interviews Ben Lerner about his latest novel, The Topeka School. The pair discuss male rage, how pain reverberates through generations, and the search for language that might disrupt these cycles. 

In preparation for a move from the United Kingdom to Canada, Connor Harrison wrestles with how to pare down his personal library. “In the moment where I have to decide, I’m certain my hands will choose automatically—the ones I would save if there was a fire.” (Literary Hub)

At NPR, Carmen Maria Machado talks to Lulu Garcia-Navarro about her memoir, In the Dream House, and the limiting and silencing nature of stereotypes surrounding domestic abuse.