Namwali Serpell on Mixing Genres, Stanford Cancels Press Funding Cut, 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.

At the Guardian, Namwali Serpell looks back on the two decades she spent writing The Old Drift, her multi-genre debut novel about a multigenerational family living in Zambia.

Following widespread criticism, Stanford University provost Persis Drell has announced that the university is backing down on its plan to cut financial support for the Stanford University Press—at least for another year. The press, which publishes around 130 books a year, makes around $5 million in annual sales but relies on the university’s yearly support of $1.7 million to see dozens of those books into print. (Inside Higher Ed)

Today in Washington, D.C., nine high schoolers will compete in the final round of Poetry Out Loud, a national poetry recitation contest. The contest offers a first-place prize of $20,000, but the students, who choose the poems they recite, are in it for more than prize money. Mahlana Graham, champion of the U.S. Virgin Islands, says, “This competition is a huge part of my life. I’ve been looking forward to it since I’ve been in elementary school.” (NPR)

Seventy years after its initial publication, Brazilian author Clarice Lispector’s novel The Besieged City has finally been translated into English. Mike Broida considers why an author praised for revolutionizing Portugese writing struggled to publish her book in either language. (Paris Review)

Harper’s Bazaar recommends the work of seven Irish writers: Sinéad Gleeson, Eimear McBride, Lisa McInerney, Melatu Uche Okorie, Elske Rahill, and Sally Rooney.

Noëlle Santos has opened an independent bookstore in the Bronx—the only one of its kind in the borough. The Lit. Bar has sections highlighting work by women and people of color, as well as a wine bar in the back. (Gothamist)

“Print is life. The endless scroll on our devices has left us feeling kind of empty and sad.” Uli Beutter Cohen on why she founded Subway Book Review five years ago, a project through which Cohen interviews commuters about the print books they're reading. (Forbes)

Poet Dante Micheaux has won the second annual Four Quartets Prize for his book-length poem, Circus. The $20,000 award honors a unified sequence of poems published the previous year. (Poets & Writers)