Remembering Meena Alexander, Indie Bookstores Booming, 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.

“Bookstores are back and they’re back in a big way.” A number of holiday shoppers took to independent bookstores over the weekend for Small Business Saturday, and booksellers say business is better than ever. (CBS News)

Indian American poet Meena Alexander died last week at the age of sixty-seven. Born in Allahabad, India, Alexander was the author of five books of poetry, including most recently Atmospheric Embroidery, which was published earlier this year, as well as two novels, a memoir, a collection of essays, and three books of criticism. She lived in New York City, where she was a distinguished professor of English at Hunter College. (Wire)

Listen to Alexander read three poems from Atmospheric Embroidery.

“My job will always involve engaging diverse readership, because it’s why I came into publishing in the first place.” Publishers Weekly talks to the next generation of Black publishing professionals, who discuss how they got into the industry and what they hope to achieve.

In a new film, The Kindergarten Teacher, Maggie Gyllenhaal plays a frustrated aspiring poet and teacher who discovers that a boy in her kindergarten class may be a budding literary genius. Poets Ocean Vuong and Kaveh Akbar were enlisted to share stripped-down versions of their work for the film. (New York Times)

Hear Akbar and Vuong read from their debut poetry collections, featured in our 2018 and 2017 Debut Poets roundups, respectively.

“I feel I’m a feminist so I write like a feminist.” At the Guardian, novelist Meg Wolitzer discusses her latest book, The Female Persuasion, and seeing her earlier novel The Wife adapted into an Oscar-nominated film.

James H. Billington, who served for three decades as librarian of Congress, died last week at age eighty-nine. Billington, whose vision for the Washington, D.C. library was for it to be an “active catalyst for civilization,” grew the collections from 8.5 million items to 160 million during his tenure. (Washington Post)