Ward and Nguyen Receive MacArthur Genius Grants, the Mall Poet, 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:

Novelists Jesmyn Ward and Viet Thanh Nguyen have received 2017 MacArthur “Genius” Grants, which honor artists, thinkers, and activists in all fields that have “shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction.” The recipients each receive $625,000 over five years. (NPR)

Read more about Jesmyn Ward in “Where the Writing Will Take Her,” a profile of the author on the release of her 2013 memoir, Men We Reaped, in the September/October 2013 issue of Poets & Writers Magazine.

In other award news, the Griffin Trust for Excellence in Poetry has announced Romanian poet and essayist Ana Blandiana as the recipient of its lifetime achievement award.

“Every time I write for strangers in public, I’m nervous. I always wonder: will this be the time, the place, where no one wants a poem? But even at the mall, when we set up to take photos, people stopped and I breathed a sigh of relief. Poetry would work, here, next to Wetzel’s Pretzels.” Poet Brian Sonia Wallace shares his experience as the poet-in-residence at the Mall of America. (Guardian)

Parul Sehgal reviews a new volume of Sylvia Plath’s letters, which over the course of more than 1,300 pages “disabuses everyone of the notion that Plath wasn’t aware of her contradictions or in (some) control of them.” HarperCollins will publish the book next week. (New York Times)

The Dutch translation of the long-awaited sequel to Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials series, La Belle Sauvage, was accidentally released in the Netherlands before its official pub date next week. The books have since been recalled. (Guardian)

E. L. James will publish another book in her Fifty Shades of Grey series. Darker: Fifty Shades Darker as Told by Christian, will be released by Vintage Books next month. The series has sold more than 150 million books worldwide. (Los Angeles Times)

Kate Tuttle, the president of the National Book Critics Circle, talks about book criticism in the age of social media and common misconceptions of book critics. (Literary Hub)