Literary Curiosities Across the Ages, Traci Lester to Lead Center for Fiction, 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.

Doreen St. Felix profiles poet Amanda Gorman, the cover star of Vogue’s May issue. “It took so much labor, not only on behalf of me, but also of my family and of my village, to get here,” says Gorman.  

Edward Brooke-Hitching, author of The Madman’s Library: The Strangest Books, Manuscripts and Other Literary Curiosities From History, talks about researching books and literary curiosities that “ping with strangeness,” including an oversize eighteenth-century French book that turns into a toilet, a German book of battle rhymes with a sharp metal binding that could double as a weapon, and a Marvel comic book from the seventies about the band Kiss partially written with blood extracted from the band members. (Smithsonian)

The Center for Fiction has announced that Traci Lester will serve as its next executive director. Lester, who most recently worked as the executive director of the National Dance Institute, succeeds Michael Roberts, who served as interim executive director after longtime executive director Noreen Tomassi retired last June.

Rena Priest has been named the next poet laureate of Washington State. Priest succeeds Claudia Castro Luna and is the state’s first Indigenous poet to hold the position. (Seattle Times)

On Tuesday the U.K.–based Wild Women Writing Club posted an open letter objecting to the inclusion of Torrey Peters’s novel, Detransition, Baby, on the Women’s Prize longlist, claiming that longlisting a trans woman “communicates powerfully that women authors are unworthy of our own prize, and that it is fine to allow male people to appropriate our honors.” The Women’s Prize organizers responded yesterday by saying they “deplore any attempts to malign or bully” authors nominated for the prize, and many writers and former prize nominees have called out the open letter as transphobic. (Guardian)

Min Jin Lee chronicles a lifetime of reading books from Lois Lenski’s Strawberry Girl to V. S. Naipaul’s A House for Mr. Biswas, and pays tribute to her family members who made that reading possible. (New York Times)

Sarah Shun-lien Bynum talks about playing with point of view, living in Los Angeles, and writing her story collection, Likes. (Los Angeles Times)

“I have been asked many times about how much my writing has to do with being Asian or Asian American, by acquaintances, by interviewers, by friends, and by other writers. This is both very complex and very simple. It has to do with the fact of my humanness, as it has to do with my recognition of it, or claiming of it, and it has to do with it regardless of my recognition or claiming of it.” Translator and writer Bonnie Chau on representation, visibility, and invisibility. (Epiphany)