Possibility in Poetic Constraint, Remembering Yoko Kawashima Watkins, 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.

Publishers Weekly has named Ellen Adler, publisher of the New Press, its 2021 Person of the Year. Colleagues praise Adler for her talent for steering a nonprofit and for her role in building the press’s diverse staff and author list. “Ellen’s tireless advocacy on behalf of independent publishing, her humor, and her great generosity make her an irreplaceable colleague and an invaluable friend,” says Michael Reynolds of Europa Editions.

Yoko Kawashima Watkins has died. The author of works including So Far from the Bamboo Grove and My Brother, My Sister, and I, Watkins drew from her family’s experiences as refugees after World War II to write her fictionalized memoirs and is particularly remembered for inspiring children through her classroom visits. (Shelf Awareness)

Adam Levin discusses the pleasures of writing about couples and his recent impatience with “artful transition” in favor of elision and interruption. “Probably this is self-preserving. The number of ostensibly worthwhile notions that have rotted on the vine while I tried to figure out how to seamlessly move from one to the next was beginning to bum me out.” (New Yorker)

“The sonnet crown gave me the opportunity to refine my own voice after listening to other voices for so long.” For the Rumpus, Jeri Frederickson describes how the formal constraint led to new possibility in her collection, You Are Not Lost.

As part of an ongoing series of essays in which staff members remember their work at the Asian American Writers’ Workshop on the occasion of its 30th anniversary, Sophia Hussain recalls her time as the organization’s programs coordinator. “Week after week, returning to an event space that made it easy for people of color to be funny, rigorous, loving, and critical of each other, that embraced experimentation and even error, that embraced the radical origins of ‘Asian America’ and sixties movement work but wanted to stretch it further, was a period of intense growth and engagement.” (Margins)

“In the winter of 2015, I copied and pasted the same message to every girl I’d recently matched with on Tinder: What’s your favorite Fast & Furious movie?” In a new installment of her Muscle Memories column, essayist Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya discusses the Vin Diesel franchise as queer dating litmus test and what heist movies have to do with breakups. (Catapult)

Chicago Tribune columnist John Warner rounds up his favorite fiction titles of 2021, including Joshua Henkin’s Morningside Heights and Patricia Lockwood’s No One Is Talking About This, from what he describes as a year rich with good reading: “My cup of favorites overfloweth.”