Toni Morrison on the Holiness of Writing, a Murderer’s Debut Book, 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:

At the New York Times, Alexandra Alter explores the ethical dilemma of publishing a convicted murderer’s first book. Curtis Dawkins, a writer serving a life sentence without parole in Michigan for killing a man in 2004, published his debut story collection, The Graybar Hotel, with Scribner yesterday. The book has received early praise from authors such as Roddy Doyle and Atticus Lish.

“I think [being] an artist, whether it’s a painter or a writer, it’s almost holy. There’s something about the vision, the wisdom. You can be a nobody, but seeing that way, it’s holy, it’s godlike. It’s above the normal life and perception of all of us, normally. You step up.” Toni Morrison talks with Granta about being a writer, the current political climate, and her next novel.

The Washington Post recommends summer reads from small presses, including Poisoned Pen Press, Centipede Books, and Europa Editions.

Meanwhile, Publishers Weekly offers a list of the fall’s most anticipated debut books, from Ayobami Adebayo’s novel, Stay With Me, to Jenny Zhang’s story collection, Sour Heart. For some of the most exciting debuts of the summer, check out “First Fiction 2017.” 

“I put nothing into the book that people had not done at some time, in some place.” Margaret Atwood talks with Junot Díaz about her novel The Handmaid’s Tale. (Boston Review)

Melville House interviews poets Rachael Wilson, Andrew Gorin, and MC Hyland about their project “Executive Orders,” an online collaboration through which poets are writing their own executive orders “as a real-time response to the corruption of governments and the people in power.”

Warner Brothers and the estate of J. R. R. Tolkien have settled a lawsuit over licensing. The Tolkien estate claimed that Warner Brothers had breached their contract by merchandising characters from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit series in the “morally questionable (and decidedly nonliterary) world of online and casino gambling.” (New York Times)

“What Shakespeare bequeathed to us offers the possibility of an escape from the mental ghettos most of us inhabit.” At the New Yorker, Stephen Greenblatt considers what The Merchant in Venice taught him about xenophobia and the literary imagination.