Patti Smith on Writing Today, Bill Gates’s Top Five Books, 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:

“And I can’t let this guy [Trump], and what they’re doing, keep me from my inalienable right to do my work, to have some kind of joy in life.” In a conversation with Salman Rushdie last night in New York City, Patti Smith talked about writing during the Trump administration. (Seattle Times)

Speaking of Patti Smith, the artist helped Sam Shepard, who died of complications from Lou Gehrig’s disease in July, complete his final work, Spy of the First Person, which comes out today from Knopf. Written in the last months of Shepard’s life, the book is “an unvarnished, intimate portrait of a man facing the end of his life, as he reflects on his past and observes how his own body has betrayed him.” (New York Times)

NPR has released its annual “Book Concierge,” which features the outlet's picks for the best books of 2017 in a variety of categories, including “Family Matters,” “It’s All Geek to Me,” and “The Dark Side.”

Meanwhile, Bill Gates has announced his top five books of the year, including Matthew Desmond’s nonfiction book Evicted and Viet Thanh Nguyen’s novel The Sympathizer. (Los Angeles Times)

After nine years in the position, Tony Valenzuela will step down from his role as executive director of Lambda Literary in June 2018. “Tony’s visionary leadership has attracted many of us to this organization, to which we now feel an enduring commitment,” said Amy Scholder, president of the board.

The New Yorker examines the “other Susan Sontag,” whose fiction and late essays offer an “aching, moving irresolution” in contrast to the “ferocious brio” of her most famous criticism.

A Texas school district has banned Angie Thomas’s best-selling young adult novel, The Hate U Give. The district’s superintendent refuses to offer an explanation for why the book was banned. (Vulture)

Adrianna Smith considers Christian Wiman’s new poetry anthology that focuses on joy and “has the urgency and relevance of words that are meaningful yet missing in public life and everyday conversations.” (Atlantic)

“I wanted it to be both clear and magical.” Emily Wilson talks about translating Homer’s The Odyssey and trying to restore dignity to the women depicted in the epic. (Book Riot)