London’s Storied Commuters, a Poetic April Fools’ Prank, 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.

London commuters can look forward to a different kind of scrolling this week, as the United Kingdom installs its first short story vending machines at Canary Wharf. The short reads will feature writers including Anthony Horowitz and Virginia Woolf, and will be dispensed on paper slips free of charge. (Guardian)

In this year’s most literary April Fools’ Day prank, developer Chris Zubak-Skees created a Google Chrome extension that replaced Gmail’s algorithmically generated responses with lines of poetry. (Verge)

“That would be equivalent to being on the New York Times bestseller list every week for a year.” Writers and publishers respond with disbelief to Baltimore mayor Catherine E. Pugh’s book deal with the University of Maryland Medical System, which paid the then-senator $500,000 for one hundred thousand copies of her self-published children’s book series, Healthy Holly. (Washington Post)

Reflecting on last week’s AWP conference, Vulture takes notes from panelists Alexander Chee, Garth Greenwell, and Carmen Maria Machado on how to write a good sex scene, while at Millions Craig Morgan Teicher recovers from the “soul-deep sense of overwhelm” of too many writers in one room. “We would rather be alone, and we come to AWP to hang out with other people who would also rather be alone.”

A group of independent booksellers from across the United States have declared August 17, 2019, the first annual “Romance Bookstore Day.” (Publishers Weekly)

The NAACP Image Awards were announced last week, with literary awards going to Alice Walker for her poetry collection Taking the Arrow Out of the Heart, Tayari Jones for her novel An American Marriage, and Michelle Obama for her memoir, Becoming. (Entertainment Tonight)

Paramount Television and Anonymous Content have bought the rights to produce a small screen adaptation of Susan Orlean’s bestselling 2018 titleThe Library Book, with Orlean set to write the series with director James Ponsoldt. (Los Angeles Times)

And at the Paris Review, Mary Norris reveals her model and muse: Athena, goddess of copyediting. “She wouldn’t worry about offending a writer or whether a writer liked her or not, and she wouldn’t let anyone get away with anything. I just had to trust that my motives were pure: I was there for the language.”