The Economy of Poetry Prizes, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Reviews Barack Obama Memoir, and More

by Staff
11.13.20

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.

“A few years ago we began a project to understand the literary prize. We were interested in this question of whether the literary prize was impartial or not, who is favored, who left out.” Poets Juliana Spahr and Stephanie Young study the function and dysfunction of literary prizes in the poetry community. (Association for the Study of Arts of the Present)

“For all his ruthless self-assessment, there is very little of what the best memoirs bring: true self-revelation. So much is still at a polished remove.” Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie reviews Barack Obama’s forthcoming memoir, A Promised Land. (New York Times)

In a profile at the New York Times, Maaza Mengiste discusses the research process behind her Booker-shortlisted novel, The Shadow King. “When historians or writers start to look at documents from history, we’re moving in contested territory. There are huge gaps, and we are in danger of falling into pits, if we don’t know where to look.”

Meanwhile, at the Guardian, Mengiste and fellow Booker finalists Diane Cook, Avni Doshi, Tsitsi Dangarembga, Douglas Stuart, and Brandon Taylor share short essays on the origins of their shortlisted novels

“The dream of the city for me is the place where you find everything and everyone that you never imagined.” Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, the author of The Freezer Door, describes her eternal search for connection. (Seattle Times)

“The actual act of writing is so solitary that we forget the collaboration required to have something to write about.” Marci Calabretta Cancio-Bello talks to the Rumpus about building a life as a poet. (Rumpus)

“I really put it all out there, in the book. The scariest part of the process is not really knowing how people will react to that.” Cazzie David reflects on getting personal in her debut essay collection, No One Asked for This. (Entertainment Weekly)

“We are going to have a president who quotes poetry.” Tess Taylor celebrates Joe Biden’s win and considers the value of poetry in troubled times. (CNN)