Min Jin Lee on Learning to Write, the Rebellion of Amelia Bedelia, 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.

“The power that I wanted was the ability to speak and to be socially knowledgeable and to understand how to interact with people.” Min Jin Lee talks to WBUR about why she started writing and how she uses the tools of fiction to write about immigration, race, and homeland.

At the New Yorker, Sarah Blackwood considers the artful rebellion of Peggy Parish’s Amelia Bedelia children’s books, in which a housemaid subverts almost every task assigned to her, highlighting “the messy entanglements of domestic labor, love, and power.”

“I could buy the career of a young writer for, like, $25,000 with a promise of $5,000 advances for every book... and the promise that we will publish (post-editing) every book that author writes until the end of their career.” Open Letter publisher Chad Post imagines a publishing world structured a lot more like a fantasy baseball league. (Three Percent)

In California, the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment has announced the 2019 winners of the biennial ASLE book awards. The award for environmental creative writing went to Elizabeth Rush for Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore while the ecocriticism prize went to Cajetan Iheka for Naturalizing Africa: Ecological Violence, Agency, and Postcolonial Resistance in African Literature.

“I wish it were otherwise, but it remains all too true, for me at any rate, that to write another novel is not at all like riding a bicycle.” Binnie Kirshenbaum on her new book, Rabbits for Food, and the “subliminal propaganda” of portraying the emotional lives of animals. (BOMB)

At the Millions, Ed Simon looks to Ben Jonson and the Cavaliers as the poets laureate of the anthropocene. “Though rarely thought of as such, Jonson is an ecopoet at the precise moment in history when we redefined our relationship to nature—for the worse.”

“American fiction isn’t necessarily insular but American prizes certainly are. We don’t have to stoop to that. Without borders, literature means something more.” Booker Prize Foundation literary director Gaby Wood on the decision to widen the award competition. (Guardian)

“Prose poems mystify me. On a most basic level they trigger my suspicions: how is this really poetry? So when poets make this form work, it’s a bit like Marie Curie dropping her glowing bar of radium into a darkened drawer—minus just enough of the poison.” Poet Marianne Boruch joins Melian Radu, Tom Wayman, and other contributors to this month’s issue of Poetry magazine in sharing their current reading lists.