W. S. Merwin Appointed Poet Laureate, Melville Gets His Own Whale, 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:

W. S. Merwin has been appointed the seventeenth poet laureate of the United States. At age eighty-two, Merwin has long been one of America's preeminent poets, having already served the country as Poetry Consultant to the Library of Congress, the precursor to the laureateship, in 1999. (New York Times)  

Christopher Hitchens has suspended the book tour for his recently released memoir in order to begin chemotherapy treatment for esophageal cancer. (Los Angeles Times)

Scientists have discovered a prehistoric sperm whale that "evidently dined on other whales" and named it, appropriately enough, after Herman Melville. "You gotta love any time you get a nod to literature in taxonomy," one researcher said. "It was a big whale, so why not?" (Associated Press)

Amazon is now offering a 70 percent royalty to authors who publish through the online retailer's Kindle Digital Text Platform. However, to receive the royalty, authors "must price their books between $2.99 and $9.99 and, also, at least 20 percent below the list price of the print book," Publishers Weekly reports.

The Bookseller reported yesterday that the "actors Alan Rickman and Emma Thomson are to star in a BBC production based on a poem by this year's Costa winner Christopher Reid." The film will premiere on the U.K.'s National Poetry Day, October 7.

Tonight in Brooklyn, New York, a free outdoor music and poetry festival will take place called "I Do Not Doubt I Am Limitless: Walt Whitman's Brooklyn." "It's going to be a Whitman freak-out jam by the waterfront," the event's organizer told the Wall Street Journal

New studies have revealed that many undergraduate students have "limited
knowledge of the process of academic research and the tools of scholarship." In other words, they don't know how to use the library very well. (Chronicle of Higher Education

Two poets in Louisville, Kentucky, got into a public dispute last week over whether one of them had a right to call himself an "outlaw poet." (Courier-Journal)

In the wake of the New Yorker's "twenty under forty" list and the plethora of alternative lists floated in response, the Guardian offers a timely reminder: "You're never too old to start writing."