Philip Levine New Poet Laureate, Kathryn Stockett Sued, and More

Evan Smith Rakoff

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:

The Library of Congress has named Philip Levine U.S. poet laureate for 2011–2012. A student of the poet John Berryman at the Iowa Writers' Workshop, America's new laureate is best known for poems that plumb memories of growing up in working-class Detroit. Levine succeeds W. S. Merwin, and will begin his term in October. (New York Times)

A class action suit has been filed in California by Seattle-based law firm Hagens Berman against Apple and five publishers over the pricing of e-books. The suit claims the publishers “colluded to increase prices for popular e-book titles to boost profits and force e-book rival Amazon to abandon its pro-consumer discount pricing.” (eBookNewser)

In related e-book news, Amazon has launched the Kindle Cloud Reader, an app designed for Apple's iPad that uses the Safari web browser to skirt Apple's proprietary app store rules.

Following a trend of newspapers retooling their books coverage, the Washington Post announced it's eliminating its books editor position and other staff will report to the new sections in which their reviews will run: the Outlook section, which will cover nonfiction, and the Style section, which "hosts most fiction coverage and reviews" (Poynter). For other happenings in the world of book reviews, the Observer breaks down the shakeups and new births.

The film adaptation of Kathryn Stockett's best-selling novel, The Help is in theaters today. The story centers on relationships between white families and their African-American housekeepers in 1960s Mississippi. Her brother’s maid, Ablene Cooper, who claims the character Aibileen is based on her, has filed a lawsuit against Stockett. (Washington Post)

Meanwhile Stockett revealed in an interview on KCRW's The Business that she sold screen rights for The Help to her childhood friend, Tate Taylor, who wrote, directed, and produced the film, despite the objections of her husband, agents, and advisers.

Famed literary critic Helen Vendler provides an account of her favorite poetry teacher at Harvard, I. A. Richards. (Boston Review)

Novelists Margaret Atwood, David Mitchell, and T. C. Boyle, among others, are included in a new anthology by Verso Press entitled I'm With the Bears. The intent of the collection is to use compelling short fiction to draw attention to the climate crisis. Royalties from book sales will help fund, an organization intent on reducing the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. (Guardian)

Wells Tower, the award-winning author of Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned, was a North Carolina garbage man. The Paris Review shares a few other odd jobs of well-regarded writers.