The Legacy of Sufi Poet Haidari Wujodi, We Need Diverse Books to Avoid the Term #OwnVoices, and More

by Staff

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.

Lynzy Billing spoke with Sufi poet Ghulam Haidar, also known as Haidari Wujodi, not long before he died of COVID-19 in June last year. An esteemed figure in the Afghan literary community, Wujodi was particularly dedicated to his work at the Kabul Public Library, where he could be found daily even after retirement. “Our library is small and old but we tried our hardest to build a collection and I am proud of it,” Wujodi said. (Al Jazeera)

We Need Diverse Books has announced it will cease using the hashtag #OwnVoices and instead opt to use “specific descriptions that authors use for themselves.” In the press release, the organization explains the hashtag has been misappropriated over time: “The hashtag was never intended to be used in a broader capacity, but it has since expanded in its use to become a ‘catchall’ marketing term by the publishing industry. Using #OwnVoices in this capacity raises issues due to the vagueness of the term, which has then been used to place diverse creators in uncomfortable and potentially unsafe situations.”

“I knew about Homer, of course, but I hadn’t really thought about what the blind bard might have to do with me.” M. Leona Godin writes about “the tradition of the blind bard” and her own experience as a blind writer. (Literary Hub)

“Ralph Ellison was private but not reclusive. In a word he favored, he was complex. His letters reveal a man capable of tremendous humor and self-reflection as well as stubbornness and occasional vanity.” For the book club at T: The New York Times Style Magazine, Adam Bradley writes about Ralph Ellison and Invisible Man.

“There are few experiences as profound as seeing oneself reflected in art, especially if a significant facet your identity has been traditionally shrouded in shadow.” More than one hundred queer and trans writers, including Garth Greenwell and Torrey Peters, share favorite LGBTQ books. (Oprah Daily)

“I hope the book totally rearranges the relationship between me and my readers.” John Paul Brammer, known for his queer advice column, Hola Papi, discusses revealing more of himself to his readers in his new memoir, Hola Papi: How to Come Out in a Walmart Parking Lot and Other Life Lessons. (Entertainment Weekly)

Elizabeth A. Harris of the New York Times previews materials from Philip Roth’s personal library, which the author donated to the Newark Public Library. The collection, which opens to the public this week, features a wealth of marginalia, furniture from his writing studio, and other artifacts.

Friederike Mayröcker, an esteemed German-language poet who was born in Austria, died on Friday at age ninety-six. (New York Times)