The Politics of the Lyric Poem, the World’s Weirdest Bookshops, 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:

“It always surprises me when people say that the realm of the lyric is the personal and the personal is not political. I just don’t know how we can get to 2014 and say that with a straight face. When you think of a poet like Yeats, how can you say politics is not in the poem? When you think of Milosz, how can you say politics is not in the poem?” At the Los Angeles Times, poet Claudia Rankine discusses her latest collection, Citizen, and her recent visit to Ferguson, Missouri.

Meanwhile, in response to Jordanian-British poet Amjad Nasser being denied entry into the United States, PEN American Center and Split This Rock have issued a public letter to Jeh Johnson, Secretary of Homeland Security, entreating the department to review the case. On September 27, a homeland security agent at London Heathrow Airport detained Nasser—who was planning to give a reading at New York University—for two hours and then denied him entry into the country with no explanation. (Washington Post)

In more political news, author Salman Rushdie, winner of the 2014 PEN Pinter Award, awarded by English PEN for lifetime achievement, has chosen to share the prize with Syrian activist Mazen Darwish. Darwish, a journalist and lawyer, is currently imprisoned for “publicizing terrorist acts” through his organization that documents human rights abuses in Syria. Every year the winner of the PEN Pinter Prize selects a fellow writer “who is active in defense of freedom of expression often at great risk to their own safety” to share the prize. (Guardian)

Following the announcement yesterday of Patrick Modiano as the 2014 winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, the Wall Street Journal speaks with the Swedish Academy’s Permanent Secretary Peter Englund about the award. Englund praises Modiano’s novels, which often grapple with French postwar identity, as subverting the conventions of both historical inquiry and the detective novel. Excerpts from three of Modiano’s novels can also be read at the Wall Street Journal.

In other French literature news, Antonin Baudry, the cultural counselor for the French embassy and a popular French cartoonist, has opened a new bookstore, Albertine, in the embassy’s townhouse in New York City. The bookstore offers over fourteen thousand titles in English and French. Baudry has also launched Festival Albertine, which will start next Tuesday and celebrate French and American thinkers in a variety of fields. (New York Times)

Speaking of bookstores, the Guardian rounds up photos of weird and wonderful bookshops, including a book barge in England, a nightclub in Beijing, and a van in Portugal.

In a talk at the Frankfurt Book Fair, author Paulo Coelho urged publishers to adapt to the changing book market and lower their e-book prices. (Publishers Weekly)

Mental Floss rounds up little-known punctuation marks like the “snark mark” and the “interrobang” with an infographic.


Paula Coelho and the Amazon/publisher debate

I love Senor Coelho and respect his writing.  I  just read an article about the Amazon/publisher debate where James Patterson said that publishers don't make a lot of money.  Interesting how each side is telling the other not to be "too greedy."