Subway Reads, the Linguistics of Clickbait, 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:

Hasan Minhaj, a senior correspondent for the Daily Show, is partnering with PEN America to launch the M Word, an event series for Muslim American voices. According to the press release, the series will provide a platform for Muslim American writers, comedians, and cultural figures “to address audiences on their own terms…to challenge the prevailing narrow representations of highly diverse Muslim communities comprised of more than three million Americans.”

Yesterday, Oscar-nominated actor Gene Wilder died at age eighty-three from complications linked to Alzheimer’s disease. Wilder’s New York Times obituary notes that after retiring from acting in 2003, he turned to more literary endeavors and wrote several novels, a story collection, and a memoir. 

“Art form or not, short and sweet titles are often hard to figure out.” At JStor Daily, linguist Chi Luu examines the language of headlines and clickbait, and the effectiveness of tactics used to engage readers online.

A Cairo court has ruled against Egyptian fiction writer Ahmed Naji’s motion to suspend his two-year prison sentence, which he is currently serving due to the sexual content depicted in his novel, The Use of Life. Earlier this year, more than five hundred Egyptian writers and artists, as well as more than a hundred and twenty international writers, signed a statement calling for Naji’s release. (Guardian)

In an interview with the Los Angeles Review of Books, poet Camille Rankine discusses her debut collection, Incorrect Merciful Impulses, and her poetry’s fraught relationship with nature. “There’s a sort of struggle between what is natural and what’s constructed in terms of ideas and relationships, which is not to say that the collection necessarily privileges the natural. The natural world can be brutal and indifferent—just like our constructed reality.”

The winners of the 2016 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Awards have been announced. The annual $30,000 awards are given to six emerging women writers of exceptional talent. This year’s winners are poet Airea D. Matthews; fiction writers Jamey Hatley, Ladee Hubbard, and Asako Serizawa; and nonfiction writers Lina María Ferreira Cabeza-Vanegas and Danielle Geller.

On Sunday, Penguin Random House—in partnership with the New York City Transit Authority—launched Subway Reads, a web platform that delivers free novellas, short stories, and excerpts from full-length books to train passengers’ mobile devices. The service is available for the next eight weeks.