Ruth Dickey to Lead National Book Foundation, 2021 PEN America Literary Awards Shortlists, and More

by Staff

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.

The National Book Foundation has appointed Ruth Dickey to serve as its next executive director. Currently the executive director of Seattle Arts & Lectures, she will start work at the foundation in May. Dickey succeeds Lisa Lucas, who recently moved to Pantheon and Schocken Books to serve as senior vice president and publisher. (New York Times)

PEN America has revealed the shortlists for the 2021 PEN America Literary Awards. The finalists for the most valuable prize, the $75,000 PEN/Jean Stein Book Award, are Borderland Apocrypha by Anthony Cody, The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi, Be Holding by Ross Gay, The Freezer Door by Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, and Sharks in the Time of Saviors by Kawai Strong Washburn. The winners in all categories will be announced in a virtual ceremony on April 8.

Independent bookstores in the U.K. will begin to receive “pool funds” from Bookshop U.K. every month instead of twice a year. The same adjustment is in the works for Bookshop in the United States. (Shelf Awareness)

Ross Gay and Bon Iver have collaborated on a video in which Gay recites his poem “Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude” accompanied by music from Bon Iver. The release is part of indie label Jagjaguwar’s twenty-fifth anniversary celebrations. 

“I longed to be terrified. I was thrilled by it. I spent my childhood chasing constructed fears, rather than dealing with my wordless ones.” A. E. Osworth writes about how the past year has revived their childhood fascination with horror media. (Catapult)   

“When people talk about representation, or reflections, or mirrors, they don’t mean, Replicate my exact experience. They mean, Make it ordinary to see someone who looks like me.” Maura Cheeks writes about the road to Black representation. (Paris Review Daily)

Netflix has acquired the rights to adapt Brian Jacques’s beloved Redwall series. The studio plans to adapt the first novel, Redwall, as a feature film, in addition to creating a television series based on one of the characters. (Vulture)

To celebrate Black History Month, the AARP recommends nine books by prominent Black authors, including The Prophets by Robert Jones Jr. and Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi.