The Emergency Poet, Mary Gaitskill on Endings, 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:

In an interview at Guernica, fiction writer Mary Gaitskill discusses her latest novel, The Mare, as well as the challenge of writing “happy endings,” the monetary struggles of women, and the social stigma of childlessness, among other thematic elements in her work.

Today, the meaning of the word allegory has drifted far from its roots, and Laura Miller, Slate’s books columnist, would like you to stop mistaking allegories for metaphors. “An allegory, in short, is not just another word for a metaphor. In essence, it’s a form of fiction that represents immaterial things as images. It calls attention to what it’s doing, typically by giving those images overtly thematic labels, like presenting the Seven Deadly Sins as a procession of people named Lust, Sloth, Pride, and the rest.”

From allegories to aphorisms: “For a word that literally means definition, the aphorism is a rather indefinite genre.” Writer and translator Ryan Ruby considers the long history of the aphorism, from Hippocrates to Maggie Nelson. (Lapham’s Quarterly)

At NPR, poet Gregory Pardlo, winner of the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for his collection Digest, talks about how the award has affected his life and work, and the value of poetry in the twenty-first century: “What is most important to me is the opportunity to imagine a world in which complete strangers can meet in peaceful intimacy, a peaceful moment, in which neither the poet nor the reader is guarded and can risk the kind of connection that…really isn’t possible and enter a moment of pure sharing.”

Bangladeshi publishing house Shuddhashar is to receive the Association of American Publishers’ 2016 International Freedom to Publish Award. Shuddhashar, which publishes secular works by Bengali writers, has been targeted by Islamic militant groups with violent acts. Cofounder Mahbub Leelen said, “Secular writers are the most vulnerable group of people in Bangladesh, and we are not getting justice for the writers and publishers killed…. This recognition will send a clear message to both the government and the fundamentalists that Bangladeshi secular writers and publishers are not alone in their battle.” (Association of American Publishers)

If you’ve got a fever, the only prescription might be more…poetry. In a mix of therapy and theater, U.K.–based writer Deborah Alma has for the past four years been playing the role of “Emergency Poet,” offering consultations from inside a vintage ambulance and prescribing poems to cure what ails her patients. (

Celebrate independent bookstores worldwide, from New York City to New Zealand, with the Independent’s list of twelve bookstores readers should visit in their lifetimes.