Sondheim Receives PEN Literary Service Award, Artistic Paralysis, 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:

Composer-lyricist Stephen Sondheim has been awarded the 2017 PEN/Allen Foundation Literary Service Award, given annually for a “critically acclaimed writer whose body of work helps us understand and interpret the human condition.” Sondheim is the first composer-lyricist to win the award.

At the New York Times, Nicholas Kristof has posted some of the two thousand entries he received for his Donald Trump Poetry Contest.

Fiction writer William Melvin Kelley died last week at the age of 79 from complications due to kidney failure. Kelley wrote experimental fiction with a fabulist bent, including his first novel, A Different Drummer, and his last novel, Dunfords Travels Everywhere. (New York Times)

The Rumpus offers a reading list for Trump’s America with recommendations from nineteen writers including Kim Addonizio, D. A. Powell, Jonathan Lethem, and Carl Phillips.

“What is the point of making beautiful things, or of cherishing the beauty of the past, when ugliness runs rampant?” Alex Ross meditates on the paralysis many artists experience in times of political strife. (New Yorker)

The Atlantic tallies the number of exclamation points writers used per one hundred thousand words—Elmore Leonard kept it to just forty-nine while James Joyce used 1,105.

Swansea University has announced the longlist for the £30,000 International Dylan Thomas Prize, given annually for a book published in the previous year by an author under the age of thirty-nine. The list includes two poetry collections, six novels, and four story collections.

The Conversation rounds up five protest poets to read, including Nikki Giovanni, Diana Di Prima, and Denise Levertov.