Remembering Toni Morrison, the Refuge of Writing, 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.

“I don’t know if we would have the vocabulary for contemplating the impact of slavery upon contemporary selfhood and nationhood, let alone for speaking publicly about it, were it not for the work of Toni Morrison.” At the New York Times, Tracy K. Smith joins Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Tayari Jones, Salman Rushdie, Jesmyn Ward, and many others in remembering Toni Morrison, who died on Monday at age eighty-eight. Over at the Paris Review, Fran Lebowitz and Danez Smith reflect on the impact Morrison had on their lives. At the Washington Post, Ron Charles remembers how Morrison encouraged generations of writers to reimagine American literature. And Slate offers a selection of social media tributes to Morrison, including posts from Shonda Rhimes, Oprah Winfrey, and Barack Obama. “Her writing was a beautiful, meaningful challenge to our conscience and our moral imagination,” said the former president. “What a gift to breathe the same air as her, if only for a while.”

“Oppressive language does more than represent violence; it is violence; does more than represent the limits of knowledge; it limits knowledge.” Vulture shares Morrison’s acceptance speech from when she won the 1993 Nobel Prize in Literature.

In a press release, Cave Canem has named Sandra Bowie its interim executive director. Bowie, a nonprofit executive with two decades of experience, will serve in the role vacated by former director Nicole Sealey until a new executive director is appointed.

Andrew O’Fallon Price shares how writing became a refuge from his obsessive compulsive anxieties. “The blank page unsettles many writers, but to me, it’s a soothing null space that offers the promise of a world I fully control, a placid refuge from the real life uncertainty that motivates my disorder.” (Paris Review)

Hillary Clinton has teamed up with her daughter Chelsea to write a book about the women who inspire her. Highlighting the achievements of more than one hundred female leaders and visionaries, The Book of Gutsy Women is scheduled for publication by Simon & Schuster in October.

In El Paso, Texas, local publisher Cinco Puntos recommends helping the city heal after the weekend’s mass shooting by donating to the El Paso Community Foundation, which has set up a fund to help victims of the violence. (Publishers Weekly)

“In my view, the anger has to be directed at the structural forces that make racism work (and the political leaders who consciously and intentionally make use of those forces).” Jess Row talks to Poets & Writers about the role of anger in literary criticism and his new essay collection, White Flights: Race, Fiction, and the American Imagination, out yesterday from Graywolf Press.

Workman Publishing is set to publish a political biography of U.S. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Written by Prachi Gupta, AOC: Fighter, Phenom, Changemaker will be released in November. (Publishers Weekly)