Racial Inequality in British Publishing, Graywolf Press Supports Local Community, and More

by Staff
6.19.20

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 Black Writers’ Guild, which represents the Black publishing community in the United Kingdom, has issued an open letter to British publishers, criticizing the industry for its ongoing failure to address internal racial inequality. Observing that publishers have “taken advantage of this moment to amplify the marketing of titles by their Black authors,” the guild writes: “We are deeply concerned that British publishers are raising awareness of racial inequality without significantly addressing their own.” The letter includes a series of requests, including a call to hire more Black staff across departments. (Independent)

In the wake of the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, and the country’s reckoning with issues of anti-Black racism, Graywolf Press has split a donation of $25,000 between five local organizations in the Twin Cities. Selected by Graywolf’s junior employees, the five organizations are MIGIZI Communications, Juxtaposition Arts, Minnesota Healing Justice Network, We Love St. Paul, and #RestoreNorth. Graywolf also plans to expand its Citizen Literary Initiative, which currently offers a ten-month, paid fellowship to a person of color pursuing a career in publishing. (Publishers Weekly)

The Justice Department has sought a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against former national security adviser John Bolton, in an attempt to block the publication of his forthcoming memoir, The Room Where It Happened. The department argues that Bolton did not complete the required national security review process and that the final manuscript contains classified information. Meanwhile, Bolton’s lawyer argues that the claim the review process was violated is a “pretext to censor or delay Mr. Bolton, in violation of his constitutional right to speak on matters of the utmost public import,” and states that a White House official had confirmed the book did not contain classified material back in April. For the time being, Simon & Schuster still plans to release The Room Where It Happened on June 23. (Washington Post)

We Need Diverse Books and Penguin Random House have announced the winners of their 2020 Creative Writing Awards, conferring $10,000 college scholarships to five graduating public high school seniors. In addition to receiving the scholarship prizes, winners will also participate in a weeklong virtual professional development event. (Publishers Weekly)

“I sat on my porch and learned to type again. One letter, one line, one paragraph, one story.” Brandon Taylor writes on the intense anxiety of the past few months, and finding a way to be in the world again. (Literary Hub)

Independent bookstores across the country are holding special events to honor Juneteenth, which commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. (Bookselling This Week)

Alexander Chee reflects on the similarities between the early days of the AIDS crisis and the coronavirus pandemic. “This virus is not that virus. But this country is still that country.” (New York Times)

“Queer people have always had a relationship to crime—often by force rather than choice. Our very existence has been outlawed, criminalized, medicalized.” James Polchin curates a reading list of queer true crime writing. (CrimeReads)  

For the past three months, we have been heartened to observe and spotlight creative initiatives that have sustained literary community during the pandemic. We are closing out our Daily Shout-Out feature this week, but we look forward to continuing to cover community efforts in our regular Daily News coverage. Our last shout-out goes to High Five Books in Florence, Massachusetts, for creating a safe, social-distancing browsing experience, by curating a collection of books and art kits on its porch to help a mother surprise her daughter for her thirteenth birthday.