Poe Toaster, Two Centuries of Novel Marriages, 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:

Happy 207th birthday to Edgar Allan Poe! This year the Poe Toaster tradition has returned to Baltimore for the author’s birthday. Who is the Poe Toaster, you ask? Since 1949, a mysterious black-clad figure placed a bottle of cognac and three roses on Poe’s grave each year on his birthday, but has failed to show up since 2010. The enigmatic visitor is scheduled to return this year, however, and Baltimore will celebrate the Poe Toaster tradition once again. (New Historian, ABC News, New York Times)

At the New Yorker, Adelle Waldman chronicles the ideal marriages and conceptions of love in major novels over two centuries, from Tolstoy to Knausgaard, and Brontë to Ferrante.

Shelf Awareness features an interview with Gene Luen Yang, the newly appointed ambassador for young people’s literature. The graphic novelist discusses his plans for his two-year term, the evolution of the graphic novel, and how he sees the genre’s role for teaching future generations.

Scholastic has withdrawn publication of its picture book titled A Birthday Cake for George Washington, written by Ramin Ganeshram and illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton. The book received criticism for its upbeat depiction of slaves. In a blog post Scholastic stated, “We believe that, without more historical background on the evils of slavery than this book for younger children can provide, the book may give a false impression of the reality of the lives of slaves and therefore should be withdrawn.”

In an interview at Public Books, poet Danez Smith discusses his craft, his debut collection, [insert] boy, spirituality and community, and finding joy in poetry despite political injustices: “I think there’s a responsibility for us to talk about injustices and to not shut up about those things but I also think it’s important for art to imagine the next step, the better, the possibility of the tomorrow of it all, as well. And also to warn of the possible destruction of it all. Especially in my work, something’s always burning down and something’s always growing from the dust. That’s important, for us to both dismantle and reconstruct in poetry.”

Penguin Random House announced it will no longer require job applicants to hold a university degree, in order to attract a wider variety of job applicants in an industry that has been “criticized for its lack of diversity.” (Guardian)

Novelist Emma Donoghue—whose film adaptation of her novel Room has been nominated for several Academy Awards—has signed on to adapt her eighth novel, Frog Music, into a film. Donoghue will write the screenplay for the film, which is being optioned by Monumental pictures.