Simon Armitage New U.K. Poet Laureate, the 2019 Believer Festival, 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.

Simon Armitage has been appointed the next U.K. poet laureate, a ten-year post. The West Yorkshire writer succeeds Carol Ann Duffy. (BBC)

“I desperately need speculative fiction right now, as a writer and a reader, to open up an elastic space where it’s possible to represent all of the dimensions of love and of horror, the utopias and dystopias co-evolving on this planet.” Short story sorcerer Karen Russell speaks with Poets & Writers about her third collection, Orange World, out tomorrow from Knopf.

Despite competition from the glow of the Red Rock Canyon at sunset and a larger-than-life neon cowgirl, it was the writers who held the audience’s attention at this year’s Believer Festival, which featured readings by Hanif Abdurraqib, Natalie Diaz, Kiese Laymon, and many other authors. The New York Times covers why the literary festival and the Las Vegas landscape are a natural match.

For Mother’s Day on Sunday, novelist and nonfiction author Ann Patchett remembers her own mother and what it meant to look “like sisters.” (Washington Post)

“The act of writing this book has made me more radicalized, for sure.” Richard Powers speaks to the Guardian about writing his Pulitzer Prize–winning novel, The Overstory, and reading more than 120 books about trees.

HarperCollins, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Hachette Book Group, and Simon & Schuster have all reported a strong beginning for 2019, with all four major trade publishers seeing a sales increase during the first quarter of this year compared to 2018. (Publishers Weekly)

At the Atlantic, Franklin Foer considers the late poet Mary Oliver’s claim that “attention is the beginning of devotion,” and the urgency of Oliver’s verse in an age of distraction. “It was not Mary Oliver’s intent to critique this new world—and it’s hard to imagine she even owned a flip phone—but her poetry captures its spiritual costs.”

And Jody Bolz and E. Ethelbert Miller bid farewell to Poet Lore, the country’s oldest poetry magazine, as they step down as executive editors after seventeen years. (Poets & Writers)