Poetry Foundation Leaders Resign, Publishers Respond to Day of Action, and More

by Staff

Every day Poets & Writers Magazine scans the headlines—publishing reports, literary dispatches, academic announcements, and more—for all the news that creative writers need to know. Here are today’s stories.

The Poetry Foundation has announced the resignations of president Henry Bienen and chair of the board Willard Bunn III. Earlier this week, a group of poets published an open letter that called for both resignations, and criticised the organization’s response to the current protests against anti-Black racism and ongoing failure to “redistribute more of its enormous resources to marginalized artists.” Spearheaded by thirty poets, more than two thousand community members ultimately signed the petition.

After more than one thousand publishing workers took part in a day of action in solidarity with the ongoing national protests for racial justice, three of the Big Five publishing houses have pledged to ramp up efforts to support Black workers and writers. Among the actions, Penguin Random House announced it would expand its partnership with We Need Diverse Books by sponsoring a new fund for Black creatives. (Publishers Weekly)

A group of fellows, instructors, and collaborators associated with the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts, have written an open letter to the board and staff calling for substantive reforms. The group calls out the organization for creating a hostile and unsafe environment for people of color, and for its failure to intervene and protect fellows during confrontations with local police. Among their demands, the group seeks a formal apology for past actions, a transition to a shared governance model, and an apparatus to support and protect artists of color. 

English PEN has awarded PEN Translates prizes to nineteen books, representing work from fifteen countries and thirteen languages. The winners were selected on the basis of “outstanding literary quality, the strength of the publishing project, and their contribution to U.K. bibliodiversity.” 

The nominees for the 2019 Shirley Jackson Awards have been announced. Awarded in six categories, the prizes honor “outstanding achievement in the literature of psychological suspense, horror, and the dark fantastic.” 

Nic Stone and Kim Johnson discuss anti-Black violence, racism in publishing, and imagining a better future via young adult literature. (Entertainment Weekly)

“I write something that I wish for.” Maxine Hong Kingston talks with Hua Hsu about writing and her plans for one final novel. (New Yorker)

“It was often painful to watch the protagonist continuously choose such destructive options.” Zaina Arafat discusses her debut novel, You Exist Too Much, and searching for a healthy form of love. (Electric Literature)

Laurence Ralph recommends five books that reckon with anti-Black violence and police brutality. (Chicago Review of Books

And the Daily Shout-Out goes to the co-curators of Still Queer, Alexander Chee and Dustin Schell, for adapting their reading series to the virtual era. The next event, which features Jenn Shapland, the author of My Autobiography of Carson McCullers, will take place on June 25 at 7:00 PM EDT.