Tracy K. Smith Named U.S. Poet Laureate, Rebuilding the Mosul Library, and More

6.14.17

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:

“She’s always been drawn to questions of what we leave behind, what it means to survive, to endure,” writes Renee H. Shea in her profile of Tracy K. Smith for  Poets & Writers Magazine, on the release of her 2015 memoir, Ordinary Light. Earlier today Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden named Smith as the next U.S. poet laureate. Smith, who succeeds Juan Felipe Herrera, will start her one-year term in the fall and plans to bring poetry to smaller towns and rural places in the country. (Poets & Writers, Los Angeles Times)

“How to live with criticism is perhaps the hardest lesson that a liberal democracy teaches its citizens.” At the New York Times, Adam Kirsch considers the reluctance of both artists and politicians to listen to criticism, which he argues is crucial to the health of a democracy.

Robin Wright chronicles the University of Mosul’s efforts to rebuild and restock its library, which was burned by ISIS troops during their occupation of the Iraqi city from 2014 to 2016. The library once housed a million books, maps, and manuscripts, some of which were over a millennium old. (New Yorker)

Galley Beggar Press cofounder Sam Jordison takes a closer look at editor Robert Gottlieb’s decision to not publish John Kennedy Toole’s cult classic novel, A Confederacy of Dunces, a decision Gottlieb later described as his “most conspicuous failure.” (Guardian)

New York Magazine offers book recommendations for Father’s Day gifts, including Pankaj Mishra’s Age of Anger, V. S. Naipaul’s A House for Mr. Biswas, and Paul Beatty’s The Sellout.

“In literature, I like extreme situations. You really don’t know who people are until they’re tested. These almost impossible-seeming situations are where the soul of a character gets put to the fire.” At the Atlantic, Victor LaValle examines his interest in horror writing. Read more about LaValle and his new novel, The Changeling, in a Q&A with Yahdon Israel at Poets & Writers.

Colossal showcases the work of Ekaterina Panikanova, a Russian-born artist who creates fragmented ink paintings on vintage books.

At the Kenyon Review, agent Monika Woods and editor Matthew Daddona discuss the basics of publishing, what’s popular right now, and their advice for writers.