“Post-Truth” Is OED Word of the Year, Writers on Art Post-Election, 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:

The Oxford English Dictionary’s word of the year is “post-truth,” an adjective defined as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and belief.” The U.S. presidential election, as well as the European Union referendum in the U.K., contributed to the spike in the word’s frequency of use.

“And so we turn to art: for comfort, for inspiration, for fuel.” Forty-one writers, including Brit Bennett, Angela Flournoy, Jonathan Lethem, and Yiyun Lee, share the art, music, and writings they each consulted for solace and understanding after the presidential election. (Brooklyn Magazine

Poet Nikky Finney interviews Donika Kelly about her debut collection, Bestiary, out now from Graywolf. Finney selected Kelly’s book for the 2015 Cave Canem Poetry Prize. (Los Angeles Review of Books)

Dan Chiasson profiles award-winning poet Ishion Hutchinson, whose “brash, brilliant verse,” he writes, “is both wrought and rooted in contradiction.” Hutchinson’s second collection, House of Lords and Commons, is out now from Farrar, Straus and Giroux. (New Yorker)

John Makinson will retire from his position as chairman of the Penguin Random House board of directors at the end of the year. Philip Hoffman, who has served on the publisher’s board of directors since 2013, will take over as chair beginning January 1. (Publishers Weekly)

The estate of Dr. Seuss has sued Connecticut-based publisher ComicMix for copyright infringement over the publisher’s project, Oh, the Places You’ll Boldly Go! The project was proposed on Kickstarter as a mashup of Dr. Seuss and Star Trek, and had raised tens of thousands of dollars before the lawsuit. (Hollywood Reporter)

Yesterday in Oakland, author Robin Sloan spoke at the Real Future Fair about training neural network artificial intelligence programs (machines modeled after the brain) to fill in parts of a story when authors feel stuck. Sloane said writers might use the programs to gain inspiration: “[The programs] can use grammar and put words together in interesting and convincing ways—and I think unexpected and beautiful ways.” (Live Science)

Author and New Statesman book critic John Gray considers the “irrational rationality” of Enlightenment writer and political satirist Jonathan Swift. “Swift’s work illustrates an irony of ration­alism. Unlike most rationalists, who use reason to prop up their conventional prejudices and opinions, Swift used it to judge the human world.”