Roxane Gay Pulls Book From Publisher, Solange Buys Books for Fans, 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:

Best-selling author Roxane Gay has withdrawn her next book, How to Be Heard, from Simon & Schuster in response to the publisher’s recent $250,000 book deal with Milo Yiannopoulous, a controversial right-wing commentator and editor of Breitbart. “I kept thinking about how egregious it is to give someone like Milo a platform for his blunt, inelegant hate and provocation. I just couldn’t bring myself to turn the book in,” Gay said in a statement. The book was scheduled for release in March 2018 by the publisher’s TED Books imprint. (BuzzFeed)

Following her performance at the Peace Ball in Washington, D.C. on Thursday, musician Solange Knowles met with fans at a local independent bookstore and bought two hundred fifty books to give away to attendees, many of whom were Howard University students. “I think that now more than ever we have to invest in community and fellowship,” Knowles said as she greeted the crowd. (Washingtonian)

The Poetry Society of America has announced Susan Howe as the recipient of its Frost Medal, given annually for distinguished lifetime achievement in poetry. Previous winners of the award include Wallace Stevens, Gwendolyn Brooks, Adrienne Rich, and Lucille Clifton.

Washington Post book critic Ron Charles comments on the recent spike in sales of George Orwell’s dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four—Penguin reports sales have increased by 9,500 percent since the inauguration—and discusses the book’s continued importance and relevancy in today’s political climate. 

Meanwhile, best-selling fiction writer Min Jin Lee discusses censorship, the responsibility of the writer, and the line between observation and surveillance. “As writers, we fear and fight surveillance because surveillance is when those who are in power use the tools of observation against the observed.” (PEN America)

At MobyLives, Julia Fleischaker considers what we stand to lose if congress approves the presidential administration’s proposal to abolish government funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Poet Ruben Quesada considers the lack of Latinx faculty at writing retreats and asks several Latinx writers, including poet Ada Limón and novelist Alex Espinoza, to share their experiences as either a participant or faculty member in writing retreats. (Ploughshares)