Remembering Mary Oliver, Sally Wen Mao on Giving Up the Gaze, and More

by Staff
1.18.19

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.

“She was a poet who provided not only the solace of beauty but showed that it was possible to look at darkness and see the light.” At Harper’s Bazaar, Erica Wagner remembers Mary Oliver. And at Literary Hub, Brandon Taylor reflects on the lasting gift of Oliver’s poem “Wild Geese.”

At the Margins, Sally Wen Mao talks to Jenny Xie about Oculus, Mao’s new poetry collection. “The paucity of visual narratives only cast a sharper edge on what exists, which is a very salacious and demented distortion—in some cases, complete fabrication—of actual Asian and Asian American women’s lives.”

“I think that Baldwin martyred himself for lots of people, and it meant that his writing became polemical. The less internal life that he was allowed, the more polemical he became.” Hilton Als on giving James Baldwin back his body. (New Yorker)

The Story Prize has announced the winner of its annual Spotlight Award: Half Gods by Akil Kumarasamy. The prize, awarded to a short story collection of exceptional merit published the previous year, includes a $1,000 purse.

“The good news is we’ve seen an uptick in daytime traffic, with presumably furloughed folks grabbing a coffee and working at their computers. The bad news is our check averages and book sales are down.” In Washington D.C., booksellers are seeing the effects of the government shutdown. (Publishers Weekly)

The typeface Lydian has made comeback. The crisp but “humanist” font, which graced the 1939 edition of James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake and had its heyday on the covers of pulp novels and Nancy Drew mysteries, is back in bookstores, representing titles including Against Everything by Mark Greif; If You Leave Me by Crystal Hana Kim; and In the Unlikely Event, Judy Blume’s first adult novel in seventeen years. (Vox)

“Anzaldúa was the first literary pathway for me to discuss and understand what it means to be writing in English, Spanish, Spanglish. She wrote in that essay about the various tongues that we speak in, how we accommodate the dominant tongues and ideologies around us, what tongues are viewed as illegitimate.” At the Millions, Christopher Soto pays tribute to poet Gloria Anzaldúa.

A GoFundMe campaign may save New York City independent bookstore Westsider Rare & Used Books from closing after thirty-five years. In just one day, supporters have pledged over $26,000 to keep the store open. (Gothamist)