Reflections on #PublishingPaidMe, Writers Respond to Harper’s Letter, 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.

At Publishers Weekly, several literary agents and authors share reflections on #PublishingPaidMe, a hashtag coined by L. L. McKinney that exposed the disparity between what Black writers and non-Black writers are offered for their work. Many writers and agents interviewed are advocating for greater financial transparency from publishing houses. 

More than one hundred and fifty journalists, academics, and other writers have issued a rebuttal to “A Letter on Justice and Open Debate,” the Harper’s letter that was published last Tuesday and signed by prominent artists such as Margaret Atwood, Salman Rushdie, and J. K. Rowling. “The letter reads as a caustic reaction to a diversifying industry—one that’s starting to challenge institutional norms that have protected bigotry. The writers of the letter use seductive but nebulous concepts and coded language to obscure the actual meaning behind their words.” (Objective)

“I’ve been thinking about what it means to normalize the everyday surrendering of advantage—to put an ideology of equality in practice at a time when it’s obvious that voting once a year or whatever is not going to be enough.” Jia Tolentino reflects on the pandemic, politics, and the efficacy of protest. (Interview

“Look at the systems around you. What do you benefit from? What do you create and sustain? And how can you change those things?” Layla F. Saad, the author of Me and White Supremacy, explains how to approach anti-racist work with intention. (NPR Life Kit)

Carlos Fonseca recalls an Alexander McQueen retrospective and other images that informed the writing of his new novel, Natural History. “Instead of the frivolities I expected, I was surprised to find a fascinating exploration of fashion as the meeting point between art, humanity and animality.” (FSG Work in Progress) 

“I think most writers have a deep-seated envy of most musicians, because they perform and they’re a part of the appreciation feedback loop.” David Mitchell talks to the Guardian about exploring London’s sixties music scene in his new novel, Utopia Avenue

Tana Wojczuk shares her research into the historical context that informed Shakespeare’s King Lear. (Chicago Review of Books)

Andrew Martin recommends eight books about artists struggling with their craft. (Electric Literature)