Marie Ponsot Has Died, Samuel R. Delany on Queer Erasure, 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.

“That night our hearth was desolate, but then its stones / sprung flowered and the soaring rafters arched.” Poet, translator, and teacher Marie Ponsot has died. She was ninety-eight. (New York Times)

At the Los Angeles Review of Books, Samuel R. Delany talks about writing “the last pre-Stonewall work of gay fiction,” meeting Stormé DeLarverie as a camp counselor long before she became famous for allegedly throwing the first punch at the 1969 riots, and coming up against queer erasure in the science fiction community.

“Inside this modest thing called literature, I have found reminders to myself to negate frontiers and carry others across, and reminders of others who carry me, too.” Teju Cole on what literature and careful translation can offer in times of emergency. (New York Review of Books)

At the New Yorker, Mary Gaitskill talks about choosing to address many recent #MeToo incidents through fiction instead of nonfiction. “The essay form is best for making an argument that is more or less rational, and my feelings on the subject are too complicated and contradictory for that.”

“What I really want as an artist, and also as a person, is to continually experience that desire to explore and discover and to relish things in the world.” Poet Yanyi shares the principles behind his debut collectionThe Year of Blue Water, which won the Yale Series of Younger Poets Prize in 2018. (BOMB)

At the Guardian, author Jokha Alharthi and her English translator, Marilyn Booth, talk about how Alharthi’s Celestial Bodies came to be the first novel by an Omani woman to be translated into English and the first book from an Arab country to win the Man Booker International Prize. “I still think that what attracts us to literature is not that it’s familiar to us, it’s that we can relate to the universal value in it,” says Alharthi.

“Hearn has already had his say, and I wanted to hear what other people around him think.” Monique Truong on telling the story of author Lafcadio Hearn through the voices of the three women in his life in her latest novel, The Sweetest Fruits.

And in New York City, the Harlem home of Langston Hughes is among the twenty-two sites and organizations to be awarded funding to help preserve Black history. The grants are funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and administered by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. (New York Daily News)

For more on the creative legacy that lives on in Hughes’s Harlem brownstone, read LaToya Jordan’s article on the I, Too Arts Collective at Poets & Writers.