Yaa Gyasi on Activism, the Racial Imaginary Institute, 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 is not enough to go to the protest, if when you go home nothing in your life changes. If black lives (Muslim lives, women, etc.) matter in public, in your tweets and on Facebook, during the protest, they must also matter in private and in practice...” Acclaimed novelist Yaa Gyasi writes that protesting Donald Trump’s presidency is not enough to challenge injustice, and encourages all people to examine their private thoughts and imagination, which are “carefully devised and tended through the centuries-long project of institutionalized racism.” (Guardian)

Meanwhile, poet Claudia Rankine discusses her efforts to open the Racial Imaginary Institute in New York City, which would host artist talks, podcasts, and visual exhibits of work focused on race and the creative imagination. Rankine says that the institute is not a response to the incoming administration, but that it does aim to look at how lives are being influenced by people’s understanding and misunderstanding of race. (New Yorker)

Richard Blanco, the inaugural poet for Barack Obama’s second presidential term, speaks with WNYC about the tradition of inaugural poets—Donald Trump did not choose a poet for his inauguration—and how regardless of party, there must be a “belief and hope within the American political system that prevails through every presidency.”

Fiction writer Anuradha Roy talks about her Man Booker Prize–nominated novel Sleeping on Jupiter, as well as the craft of storytelling and the nature of violence. (Rumpus)

Neil Gaiman has written all six episodes of the forthcoming television adaptation of Good Omens, the 1990 novel that he cowrote with the late Terry Pratchett. Amazon Studios plans for a worldwide release in 2018. (Guardian)

Autostraddle lists forty-five queer feminist books to read in early 2017, including works from Roxane Gay, Rebecca Solnit, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Jenny Zhang, and others.

Screenwriter and debut novelist Elan Mastai speaks with Bookselling This Week about his debut novel, All Our Wrong Todays, which topped the list of the American Booksellers Association’s Indie Next Great Reads list for February.