R. O. Kwon on Being a Woman in America, New Sylvia Plath Story Discovered, and More

by Staff
1.8.19

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.

Anakana Schofield rejects tidying guru Marie Kondo’s advice for cleaning out one’s bookshelves. “The metric of objects only ‘sparking joy’ is deeply problematic when applied to books.” (Guardian)

“Guilt, the train wheels clucked like round black birds, and guilt, and guilt, and guilt.” A newly-discovered story by Sylvia Plath, “Mary Ventura and the Ninth Kingdom,” will be published by HarperCollins next month. (New Yorker)

“It’s actually not the trolls that are going to drive me off social media—it’s more the people who expect me to be everything to everyone at all times, to always have the perfect politics, to always say the perfect thing.” At the Pool, Roxane Gay discusses the expectations (and the Channing Tatum-related bonuses) that accompany literary fame. 

“Sometimes, I’ll read a novel written by a man in which a woman walks home alone, late at night, in America, without having a single thought about her physical safety, and it’s so implausible that I’ll put the book down.” R. O. Kwon writes about what it’s actually like to be a woman in America. (Paris Review)

Kwon was one of the featured authors in First Fiction 2018; read an excerpt of her debut novel, The Incendiaries.

In need of a “literary once-a-day multivitamin?” Tracy K. Smith’s daily podcast gives you permission to sit down and listen. (Electric Literature)

For an introduction to the current U.S. poet laureate’s work, read “Far From Ordinary: A Profile of Tracy K. Smith.”

The winners of the 2018 Costa Book Awards, open to British and Irish authors, were recently announced. Sally Rooney won the Costa Novel Award for Normal People; Stuart Turton won the First Novel Award for The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle; J. O. Morgan won the award in poetry for Assurances; Bart van Es won in biography for The Cut Out Girl; and Hilary McKay received the children’s book award for The Skylark’s War. They each received £5,000 (approximately $5,716) and are automatically in the running for the Costa Book of the Year Award, which will be announced on January 29th. (Irish Times)

The Academy of American Poets has named Joy Harjo and Natasha Trethewey as its newest Chancellors.

Listen to Natasha Trethewey read from her Pulitzer Prize–winning book, Native Guard (2007) on Episode 22 of Ampersand: The Poets & Writers Podcast.

In the latest 2019 reading roundup, Vulture offers a month-by-month selection of forthcoming books. For January: Kristen Roupenian’s short story collection You Know You Want This, and Maurice Carlos Ruffin’s novel We Cast a Shadow.