Reginald Dwayne Betts on Ntozake Shange, the Most Anticipated Books of 2019, 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.

“Shange turned a cell barely big enough to live in into a walking tour of the world.” At the New York Times Magazine, Reginald Dwayne Betts remembers the late poet Ntozake Shange, whose work he first read while in solitary confinement. 

“A lot of critics have noticed that my books are basically nineteenth-century novels dressed up in contemporary clothing.” Lauren Collins profiles Irish novelist Sally Rooney, whose second novel, Normal People, will be published in the United States in April. (New Yorker)

At the Washington Post, Michael Dirda reviews The Best American Poetry 2018, the thirtieth installment of the annual anthology, which explores the question, How do you define authenticity?

“When a sentence jumps all of the rhetorical hurdles that life and our saturated minds place along the way to reach sublimity, I become moved to near tears.” In the latest installment of By the Book, novelist Chigozie Obioma talks reading, writing, and what moves him most in a work of literature. (New York Times)

At Inside Higher Ed, a mathematician and uncredentialed writing instructor makes a case for teacherless writing classes.

After a recent announcement that it would be leaving its longtime SoHo location due to rising rents, New York City indie bookstore McNally Jackson may be staying put on Prince Street. (Curbed New York)

“My migration pattern has not been ordinary and that has impacted the way I think and see—I just wanted to relay that as best as I could through the structure.” The Rumpus Poetry Book Club chats with Marwa Helal about her debut collection, Invasive species.

The year-end book lists may be over, but the preview lists are just beginning: The Guardian, Nylon, Lit Hub, and the Huffington Post round up their most anticipated books of 2019.