Mellon Grant Supports African Poetry Digital Portal, Pop-Up Bookstore Owners Adapt During the Pandemic, 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.

A new $750,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will help fund the expansion of the African Poetry Digital Portal, a project stewarded by Kwame and Lorna Dawes of the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. Developed in collaboration with partners at various institutions across the globe, the project helps connect researchers and readers to information on African poets and poetic traditions.   

The Los Angeles Times checks in with Jenny Yang and Chris Capizzi, the owners of the pop-up bookstore A Good Used Book, to find out how their business has evolved during the pandemic. “If we can get beaten up by COVID this much and still be optimistic coming out of the tail end-ish, I think we have a good chance of making it,” said Capizzi.

“I finished the novel in 2017. And no one was interested. When I did finally get a small publisher in the U.K. and a small publisher in South Africa to copublish, they couldn’t get anyone to review the book.” Karen Jennings is still processing that her latest novel, An Island, has made the longlist for this year’s Booker Prize. (Guardian)

“When you try to write a far-off dystopian or postapocalyptic narrative, I think you inevitably end up creating something that resonates with a lot of what is happening in the world today.” Alexandra Kleeman, the author of Something New Under the Sun, questions what constitutes realist fiction. (Paris Review Daily)

In personnel news from the books desk at the New York Times, John Williams has been promoted from daily books editor to assistant editor. “This is a very well-deserved promotion for one of the best team players—and now leaders—on the desk,” writes Pamela Paul, the editor of the New York Times Book Review.

Reese Witherspoon has selected We Were Never Here by Andrea Bartz as the August title for Reese’s Book Club. Meanwhile, The Turnout by Megan Abbott was revealed as the latest pick for Jenna Bush Hager’s book club, Read With Jenna. (Kirkus)

The Millions spotlights over twenty books releasing this month, including The Women of Troy by Pat Barker and When the Reckoning Comes by LaTanya McQueen.

Lauren Groff’s latest novel, Matrix, is the headliner of the September 2021 Indie Next List.


Editor’s note: There will be no Daily News tomorrow, August 6. Coverage will resume August 9.