Susan Howe on Wallace Stevens, Amazon Fights Fake Reviews, 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:

“I owe [Wallace Stevens] an incalculable debt, for ways in which, through word frequencies and zero zones, his writing locates, rescues, and delivers what is various and vagrant in the near at hand.” Poet Susan Howe’s essay on Wallace Stevens, “Vagrancy in the Park,” is up at the Nation. The piece will appear in Howe’s forthcoming essay collection, The Quarry, which will be published by New Directions on November 7.

The New Yorker’s Masha Gessen profiles Belarusian author Svetlana Alexievich, the winner of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Literature. Of Alexievich’s work, which documents historical crises including World War II and Chernobyl, Gessen writes, “This is oral history stripped down to segments so raw that it can stretch both credulity and the reader’s tolerance for pain."

Amazon has filed a lawsuit against more than aone thousand people who allegedly offered to write fake product reviews in return for payment. (Mashable)

Song of Solomon was incredibly galvanizing; it made me want to write.” Marlon James—the winner of this year’s Man Booker Prize for his novel A Brief History of Seven Killings—reflects on the profound impact of Toni Morrison’s work on his life and writing. (Guardian)

In an interview at the Millions, Margaret Atwood discusses her new novel, The Heart Goes Last, and the line between comedy and horror. The Heart Goes Last is Atwood’s first standalone novel since her 2000 work The Blind Assassin.

Meanwhile, over at the Rumpus, Guggenheim fellow and Los Angeles Times book critic David L. Ulin talks about his new book, Sidewalking: Coming to Terms with Los Angeles, a rumination on the city’s resistance to urban conventions such as being pedestrian friendly.

Moby-Dick may be the first book that comes to mind in the “whale lit” genre, but there are many other notable titles. Literary Hub editor Blair Beusman offers a literary history of whales, citing works that differ widely in their descriptions and treatment of the “benevolent behemoths,” from Paul Verlaine to Cormac McCarthy.