National Book Award Winners, Art for Justice Grants, 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:

Last night in New York City the National Book Foundation announced the winners of the 2017 National Book Awards in poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and young people’s literature. Frank Bidart won in poetry, Jesmyn Ward won in fiction, Masha Gessen won in nonfiction, and Robin Benway won in young people’s literature. Each winner will receive $10,000.

The Art for Justice Fund, an organization that connects criminal justice advocates with artists to counter mass incarceration in America, has awarded a total of $22 million to thirty nonprofits that seek to reduce prison populations and provide education and employment opportunities for formerly incarcerated people. Literary organizations that received grants include the National Book Foundation, the Asian American Writers Workshop, PEN America, and the University of Arizona Poetry Center.

“We have allowed our thinking to be conformed to the model of ideology, which is the old enemy of ideas, as it is of plain realism.” Novelist and essayist Marilynne Robinson reflects on Trump’s first year in office and the decline of intellectual discourse in America, for which, she argues, America’s higher education system is in part responsible. (New York Review of Books)  

Today’s Google Doodle honors the eighty-seventh birthday of the late Nigerian novelist and poet Chinua Achebe, often referred to as the “father of modern African literature.” Achebe’s 1958 novel, Things Fall Apart, sold over twelve million copies and was translated into more than fifty languages. (Independent)

“Unputdownable.” “Spellbinding.” “A literary tour de force.” Do these descriptors sound familiar? The Powell’s Books staff lists the seven sins of book blurbing.

Although lesser known for his poetry, German playwright Bertolt Brecht captured the horrors of World War II and his life in exile in his poetry collection, War Primer, which he wrote from 1939 to 1941. (Nation)

Barnes & Noble has announced the return of its annual Black Friday Signed Editions Program, a promotion held at Barnes & Noble stores nationwide offering five hundred thousand autographed titles by a hundred fifty acclaimed authors. (Business Wire)