The Physicality of Poetry, the Sensation of Holding a Shark, 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.

Publishers Weekly charts the “unprecedented spike” in efforts to ban books that have swept school libraries across the nation in recent months. “The volume of challenges we are hearing and seeing now appears to be the result of an organized movement by certain groups to impose their political views and make them the norm for education and for our society as a whole,” says Deborah Caldwell-Stone, director the American Library Association’s Office for Information Freedom. Caldwell-Stone reports a 60 percent uptick in book challenges in the month of September compared to the same time last year.

“I don’t always like thinking about teaching or reading poems aloud as ‘performance.’ Art, yes. Dangerous, yes. Important, yes. But it’s more intimate for me than performance alone can carry. It’s an embodied exchange.” Stacey Waite describes the physicality of sharing poetry aloud. (Rumpus)

“Gingerly I took the shark in my arms, holding it well away from my face. It lay there, looking up at me with its remarkable eyes. I stared into them for a while and was utterly transfixed. It felt like I was looking from space into a storm system blazing on the surface of an alien planet.” Ross Frylinck recounts being changed by encounters with sharks in an excerpt from Underwater Wild. (Literary Hub)

“Initially, I resisted politics because I resent the fact that when Africans write books, it’s almost as if you have to write about politics.” Bisi Adjapon discusses the intersection of politics and feminism in her novel, The Teller of Secrets, and the research that shaped her writing about Ghana’s women. (Electric Literature)

Hannah Howard recommends that writers harness the brain’s particular attention to smell. “The way our brains are structured makes us extra alert to unfamiliar sensory information, especially smells. A weird or off smell means something bigger is weird or off. There could be a predator lurking, or a storm, or a bomb. (Or the 1 Train.)” (Don’t Write Alone)

For the New York Times, Diana Gabaldon recounts what she reads—“anything, including the label on the Tabasco bottle if there’s nothing else”—and what she avoids—“books in which terrible things happen to children”—in the latest installment of By the Book.

Sara Lippmann reviews Lily King’s debut story collection, Five Tuesdays in Winter. “This is a book for writers and lovers, a book about storytelling itself, a book for all of us.” (Washington Post)