Sara Borjas on Navigating Identity, Crime Writers Protest Staunch Prize, 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.

“When I think of where my poetic landscape is, I consider, ‘Is it nature?’ But no, it isn’t. My poetic landscape is the house. It’s the kitchen, the linoleum floor, the grout my mother can’t get clean.” Poet Sara Borjas talks about finding inspiration at home and navigating Chicana identity in her debut collection, Heart Like a Window, Mouth Like a Cliff. (Electric Literature)

As the Staunch Prize—an award for a thriller in which no woman is beaten, stalked, sexually exploited, raped, or murdered—enters its second year, crime writers are protesting the prize organizer’s implication that novelists who depict violence against women foster it in real life. “Violence against women takes many forms, perhaps the most insidious of which is censorship,” says author Sarah Hilary. (Guardian)

Read more about the Staunch Prize in “Prize for Thrillers Sparks Debate” from the current issue of Poets & Writers Magazine.

“So let us make a pact to be the country that acts / As compassionate as we are courageous.” In Boston, inaugural National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman performs her poem commemorating Independence Day. (CBS)

At the Rumpus, Elisa Gabbert shares the process of intuition, influence, and Jenga tower–building behind her new essay collection, The Word Pretty. “Recently while working on a particularly difficult part of a long essay, I kept getting up spontaneously from my chair, like in the middle of typing a sentence, to pace around. It wasn’t something I was consciously deciding to do, it just happened, reflexively, like the pace of my thinking required me to be upright and moving my legs. The brain wants what it wants.”

At the Paris Review, Garth Greenwell considers the same-sex relationship at the center of Iris Murdoch’s novel A Fairly Honourable Defeat. “This is a remarkable act of affirmation in a book published in 1970, just three years after the decriminalization of private homosexual acts in the United Kingdom; more remarkable still is that it remains, fifty years later, perhaps the most beautiful literary representation of a same-sex marriage I know.”

“Every time I sat at my desk I thought, ‘Well this isn’t as good, this isn’t as funny... It isn’t going to sell as many copies.’” Novelist David Nicholls on the challenge of living up to his best-selling phenomenon, One Day, and finally writing a “better” book with his latest novel, Sweet Sorrow. (BBC)

At the New Yorker, Hermione Hoby examines the question shared by two satirical novels set in MFA programs: What does it mean to be a “real” writer? “What is required is a sort of faith in uncertainty—an acceptance that one’s capacity to conjure authentic new realities will have to be tested again and again, that the writer must be in a constant state of becoming.”

“It was a challenging time with so many friends dying of AIDS, and he had a beautiful way of talking about it like we were going to make the world a better place with our struggles. I am sure he was right. I know the world is much better for having had him in it.” CAConrad and many other writers pay tribute to poet, novelist, playwright, and scholar Kevin Killian, who died last month. (Poetry Foundation)