Ralph Ellison in Letters, Thunder Cake, and More


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.

“Going from iconoclastic to iconic, Ellison’s stature gains a burdensome gravity.” Kevin Young considers the newly released volume The Selected Letters of Ralph Ellison, and charts how the writer’s voice and focus shifted across the decades. (New Yorker)

Literary Hub asks this year’s Center for Fiction First Novel Prize finalists about the first books they fell in love with. Ocean Vuong remembers Thunder Cake by Patricia Polacco, a story about a girl and her grandmother who make a cake in the midst of a storm. “I want to live like that. I am trying to live like that. I want to eat cake with those I love when the storm takes me.”

Vuong spoke to Rigoberto González for this year’s July/August issue of Poets & Writers Magazine

A poem is like a thing that’s already happening in the world. . . . The question is whether you feel like stopping to be an interlocutor with it.” At the Nation, Eve L. Ewing discusses her latest collection, 1919, which engages with the history of racial violence in Chicago, among other themes. 

In September Lambda Literary held a conversation with several writers about contemporary literature and poetry that addresses the ongoing AIDS crisis. A recording is newly available online. 

At the New York Times, Alison McCulloch highlights four recent works of translated fiction originally published in Japanese, Catalan, Dutch, and Tamil. 

Sam Farahmand talks to the Rumpus about his debut novel, Chimero, and the absurdity of real life

The Washington Post has announced its selections for the best poetry collections of 2019. The list features five titles, including Ilya Kaminsky’s Deaf Republic

Garth Greenwell interviewed Kaminsky for Poets & Writers Magazine earlier this year. 

John DeLore, executive producer of the Paris Review Podcast, shares memories from behind the scenes and discusses his creative process.