Linton Kwesi Johnson Wins PEN Pinter Prize, Hope Wabuke on Downplaying Violent Language, and More

by Staff

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.

English PEN has awarded the 2020 PEN Pinter Prize to poet Linton Kwesi Johnson. “Linton Kwesi Johnson is a poet, reggae icon, academic and campaigner, whose impact on the cultural landscape over the last half century has been colossal and multi-generational,” said Claire Armitstead, one of the judges for the award. Established in 2009, the prize honors a writer who “casts an ‘unflinching, unswerving’ gaze upon the world.” Previous winners of the prize include Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Margaret Atwood. (Guardian)

Writer Hope Wabuke recalls running into a white college classmate dressed in full Ku Klux Klan regalia, who explained it was “for a joke.” She examines other cases in which violent language and ideas are disguised as humor. (Paris Review Daily)

“I hope people will actually read our magazine before scoffing. We have cutting edge stuff—queer readings of Crunchwraps, pieces exploring homelessness, suburban dread, poverty, American identity, and so much more.” M. M. Carrigan, founder of Taco Bell Quarterly, discusses her ambitions for the quirky literary magazine. (Food & Wine)

“When I left for college, I started to realize all the ways my culture is misrepresented, made fun of, exploited, and forgotten.” Ashleigh Bryant Phillips shares her favorite works of fiction that give a voice to rural working class people. (Literary Hub)

“As writers of fiction, we have to be a little cruel to our characters and put them in the highest-pressure situations that we can think of, and for me that was New York City.” Sarah Gerard, the author of True Love, discusses New York City, creative partnerships, and love affairs. (BOMB)

Mailchimp has launched By the Books, a virtual book festival that features original essays, podcast episodes, and author conversations. (Forbes)

Lee Conell, the author of The Party Upstairs, recommends seven books that explore socioeconomic inequality in New York City. (Electric Literature)

“This isn’t real Italy, it’s Shakespeare’s imagined Italy, the Italy of Renaissance dreams.” Jo Walton on the meta-storytelling in her latest novel, Or What You Will. (Chicago Review of Books)