Translation Patience, Chick Noir, 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:

According to poet Eileen Myles, poetry is alive and well in America. “Poetry always, always, always is a key piece of democracy. It’s like the un-Trump: The poet is the charismatic loser,” she explains to Ana Marie Cox at New York Times Magazine. “Poetry gets better, because it becomes more necessary.” Myles ran for president as a write-in candidate in 1992. When asked if she would consider running again, she replied, “If the voters rose up with a write-in campaign, then of course I would serve.”

In the age of Internet dating and the threat of constant surveillance, there remains a subgenre of less-than-thrilling domestic fiction: chick noir. “The heroines of contemporary chick noir, in contrast to their femme-fatale forerunners, are good girls—they floss daily and bake hot cross buns for Easter.” (Chronicle of Higher Education)

The Morning News has announced the shortlist and judges for the 2016 Tournament of Books. Beginning in March, each weekday a judge will read two books, choose one to advance, and explain his or her decision. This is the twelfth year of the Tournament.

At Guernica, Ann Goldstein—longtime English translator of Italian writer Elena Ferrante’s novels—speaks with translator Katrina Dodson about her experience translating Ferrante’s epic Neapolitan novels versus her other books, the emotional intensity of inhabiting the writer’s characters, and how her work as an editor at the New Yorker has aided her translation work. “Being an editor, someone who works with words, is very good training for being a translator because it trains you to be attentive to words in a very specific, very concrete, very literal way. And I think that’s part of the reason that I have the patience to translate.” Goldstein’s forthcoming Italian to English translation is Jhumpa Lahiri’s In Other Words, which comes out in February from Knopf.

Meanwhile, in the latest issue of Asymptote, award-winning fiction writer Junot Díaz discusses his novels and story collections, working with translators, narrating diaspora, and the relationship between fiction and history. “As a writer, I always feel like I’m talking very intimately to my reader and I tend to assume my reader has a lot of my same knowledge. But of course translation is what writers do, from another perspective. We transmute the world into fiction.”

Deadline reports that Guillermo del Toro, director of films such as Pan’s Labyrinth and Hellboy, will potentially direct the film adaptation of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark for CBS Films. The film is based on the international best-selling book series by Alvin Schwartz, first published in 1981, and famously illustrated by artist Stephen Gammell. John August wrote the screenplay.

Over at BOMB, writer Matthew Sharpe interviews National Book Award–winning poet Robin Coste Lewis about the structure and genesis of her debut collection, Voyage of the Sable Venus, which catalogues Western art depicting black female figures from 38,000 BCE to the present. “I tried very deliberately to have absence be the main character in that so-called story. And it’s very important to me that fragmentation be something that’s not only present, but that I also celebrate. I don’t accept the idea of my history as tragic. I refuse that in every way that I possibly can. And in order to do that, I have to embrace and celebrate situations that many people quite understandably renounce.”