Liu Xia’s Poetry, the Artist’s Inner Life, 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:

“Hold onto that part of you that first compelled you to start writing. Hold onto that self through the vicissitudes of ‘career.’ A writing life and a writing career are two separate things, and it’s crucial to keep the first. The single essential survival skill for anybody interested in creating art is to learn to defend this inner life from the world.” Lan Samantha Chang urges artists to protect their inner lives. (Literary Hub)

A group of literary journals—including Scoundrel Time, Bat City Review, and Poetry Northwest—have joined together to publish the poetry of Liu Xia, the wife of Liu Xiaobo, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and Chinese dissident who died on July 13 while in custody of the Chinese government for advancing pro-democracy beliefs. Xia, who was previously under house arrest, has since disappeared. Jennifer Stern, co-translator of Xia’s poems says, “Liu Xia is one of us, a poet. I wish there was one way to stop the erasure of a human, but I don’t think there is. Yet we can do this: read Liu Xia’s poems.”

American literature has become more profane: A new study analyzing a million books published in the U.S. from the early 1950s to 2008 shows that books published from 2005 to 2008 are twenty-eight times more likely to use swearwords. (Guardian)

Poets Hayan Charara and Patricia Smith talk about their lineages, families, and musical loves. (Lifted Brow)

CBS News reports that last week the state of Connecticut denied Reginald Dwayne Betts, an accomplished writer who committed a felony at age sixteen, the right to practice law despite his passing of the state’s Bar Exam. Current Affairs editor Nathan J. Robinson argues that the American criminal justice system is excessively punitive: “But as Betts’s case shows, if you have a criminal record, you can even be nine times as good and it might not matter.”

Every Writer has released an updated version of its “Top 50 Literary Magazines.” The list is based on each journal’s founding date, number of publications in national anthologies, and the “quality of work and names of past authors published in the magazine,” among other criteria.

“The creative impulse is ultimately driven not by your personal or professional history, but by a kind of uninhibited curiosity, the capacity to let yourself improvise, to play around without imposing judgment.” Steve Almond and Cheryl Strayed offer advice to an accountant considering quitting her job to pursue writing. (New York Times)