Daily News

Every day the editors of Poets & Writers Magazine scan the headlines—publishing reports, literary dispatches, academic announcements, and more—for all the news that creative writers need to know.

4.19.24

The Forward reports on the withdrawal of many authors from consideration for this year’s PEN America Literary Awards amid criticism of the free speech organization’s response to the war in Gaza. Camille T. Dungy remains the only author nominated for the $75,000 PEN/Jean Stein Book Award who has not withdrawn her book, Soil: The Story of a Black Mother's Garden, from consideration. In a statement she told the Forward that she supports PEN America for its work against book banning: “Such bans are putting young people at risk, particularly Black, Brown, queer, and trans youths who can’t access books that represent and affirm who they are and who they need and want to be.”

4.19.24

Lord Byron died on this date, April 19, in 1924 at age thirty-six. Trinity College of the University of Cambridge in England, Byron’s alma mater, is hosting a festival honoring the Romantic poet this weekend, and other bicentennial events honoring him are being held elsewhere in the United Kingdom, United States, and elsewhere.

4.19.24

The New York Times investigates “a shadowy corner of the rare book world”: volumes bound with human skin.

4.19.24

In an open letter, PEN America’s president, author Jennifer Finney Boylan, addresses criticism of the free speech organization’s response to the war in Gaza, saying “a working group of authors and scholars [will] review PEN’s work—not just over the last six months, but indeed, going back a decade, to ensure we are aligned with our mission, and to make recommendations about how we respond to future conflicts.”

4.18.24

A formerly incarcerated writer reports that he and others who won PEN America’s Prison Writing Contest never received payments. After he tweeted about his lack of payment, the free speech organization used Zelle to pay him, he says. His cowriter on the story for Prism “identified five winners from 2020, 2021, 2022, and 2023 who are still missing a total of $925 in payments.” In a statement PEN America says it has “in all but one case, reconciled payment of the contest prize money” to six incarcerated writers it had identified as not receiving prize money and is otherwise putting measures in place to correct similar problems in the future.

4.18.24

Nonprofit Quarterly reports on the closure of Small Press Distribution, noting that it was “the only nonprofit literary distributor in the country.”

4.18.24

Literary Arts in Portland, Oregon, announced that it will celebrate its fortieth anniversary by moving into a more expansive downtown headquarters. The new digs, expected to open later this year, “will serve as a community and cultural hub with a bookstore and café, as well as classroom and event space, writing areas, staff offices and a recording studio.” The nonprofit literary organization aims “to engage readers, support writers, and inspire the next generation with great literature” by offering workshops, lectures, school programming, and more.

4.18.24

An exhibition of “book-like objects” dating from as early as the eighteenth century are now on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art through July 16, reports Fine Books & Collections magazine. Made of materials ranging from wood to precious metal, the curiosities include jewelry, toys, and tools that resemble literary volumes.

4.17.24

A beloved pro-democracy bookstore in Hong Kong called Mount Zero has closed amid increasing government scrutiny of the shop in the wake of Chinese security laws that have cracked down on Hong Kong’s freedom and independence, reports the Hong Kong Free Press.

4.17.24

Less than two weeks before the scheduled April 29 PEN America Literary Awards ceremony, more than a third of nominated writers and translators have withdrawn their names from consideration due to the organization’s response to the war in Gaza, reports Literary Hub. A letter from thirty nominated writers and translators reportedly sent to the PEN America Board of Trustees this morning called for the resignations of PEN America CEO Suzanne Nossel, PEN America President Jennifer Finney Boylan, and the entire PEN America Executive Committee.

4.17.24

The other four of the Big Five publishers have joined Penguin Random House in a lawsuit that aims to thwart a law in Iowa that bans books in school libraries that deal with sex, sexuality, and gender identity, Publishers Weekly reports. “We as publishers are uniting in our unwavering commitment to stand with educators, librarians, students, authors, and readers against the unconstitutional censorship measures being imposed by the state of Iowa,” the publishers wrote in a joint statement.

4.17.24

Translators are losing work because of language-generative AI, the Guardian reports. A survey by the Society of Authors—the United Kingdom’s largest trade union for writers, illustrators, and translators—found that more than a third of translators lost work due to the technology. Nonetheless, 37 percent of translators said they used AI to support their work.

4.17.24

A new literature museum will open in Hong Kong this June, reports Travel + Leisure. The Museum of Hong Kong Literature will store literary artifacts, mount exhibitions, and host literary exchange events.

4.17.24

Some publishers in the United Kingdom are looking toward AI to help sell books: Marketing tools that use generative AI “will enable the relatively smaller marketing resources of most publishers to punch way above their weight,” Sara Lloyd, global head of AI at Pan Macmillan, tells Fortune.

4.17.24

The New York Times reports on the closure of Small Press Distribution (SPD) and how hundreds of indie presses are working to claim remaining inventory and payments. SPD’s “dissolution is being overseen by the Superior Court of California, which will decide how to distribute any of S.P.D.’s remaining assets to creditors.” The nonprofit reportedly owes one small publisher, LittlePuss, $12,000, roughly a third of the small press’s revenue from last year.

4.16.24

PEN America has released a report on book banning efforts in school libraries, recording “more school book bans during the first six months of the 2023-24 school year than in all of 2022-23.” PEN America’s announcement follows a report by the American Library Association last month that found book banning had reached unprecedented levels last year in public and school libraries.

4.16.24

Deep Vellum, a nonprofit publisher and bookstore owner in Dallas, is planning to expand by opening offices in New York and possibly London, reports the Mercury, a publication of the University of Texas in Dallas.

4.16.24

Attendance at literary events in New York City is surging, prompting leaders in other industries to host readings, including in restaurants and fashion, reports the New York Times.

4.16.24

Masie Cochran is the new publisher and editorial director for Tin House Books, reports Shelf Awareness. Cochran had been serving as interim publisher and editorial director. She succeeds Craig Popelars, who left the press in October.

4.15.24

On Literary Hub Alissa Quart investigates the financial tenuousness of the writing life in a six-part series called “Cutting Class: On the Myth of the Middle Class Writer.”  

4.15.24

Condé Nast Traveler profiles poet Hala Alyan. Listen to Alyan read from her new poetry collection, The Moon That Turns You Back.

4.15.24

The Associated Press reports on authors turning down awards and award consideration from PEN America in protest of the free speech organization’s response to the war in Gaza.

4.15.24

The New York Times writes about Salman Rushdie and how he has been faring personally and professionally since he was attacked at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York in 2022. Rushdie’s memoir about the experience, Knife: Meditations After an Attempted Murder, will be published tomorrow by Random House.

Week of April 8th, 2024
4.12.24

On CBS’s 60 Minutes on Sunday, author Salman Rushie will offer his first televised interview since he was attacked at the Chautauqua Institution in New York in August 2022, the Guardian reports.

4.12.24

The New Yorker considers how smartphones have altered our reading practices.

4.12.24

PBS NewsHour reports on efforts by librarians to resist censorship and defend the right to read in the midst of an unprecedented movement to ban books from libraries nationwide.

4.12.24

The New York Times reports on a university program in Australia that seeks to create ties between the nation’s mainstream and Indigenous publishing industries.

4.11.24

Political leader Aleksei A. Navalny, who opposed Russian president Vladimir Putin before dying in prison in February, wrote a memoir. Titled Patriot, the memoir will be published in October by Knopf, reports the New York Times.

4.11.24

Literary Hub reports on trouble that continues to swirl around PEN America, which has received criticism for its response to the war in Gaza, where Israel’s offensive has reportedly killed more than thirty-three thousand Palestinians and induced “imminent” famine. Several writers have declined to have their books considered for PEN America’s historically prestigious awards, and more writers have declined to participate in the PEN World Voices Festival.

4.11.24

The winners of the 2024 Whiting Awards for emerging authors have been announced.  

4.11.24

The town of Princeton, New Jersey, has declared itself a book sanctuary, joining a growing movement to protect the right to read amid heated book-banning efforts nationwide. Read more about the book sanctuary movement in Poets & Writers Magazine.

4.11.24

The Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) and the Seattle Public Library (SPL) have issued a report on the work of Books Unbanned, an initiative to counter efforts to ban books by offering borrowers nationwide digital access to titles through the libraries. The report includes data and testimonials about the impact of the program—launched in April 2022 by BPL and in April 2023 by SPL—which has reportedly increased access to books for readers facing a variety of challenges. Read more about Books Unbanned in Poets & Writers Magazine.

4.10.24

An investigation by the New York Times reveals how tech companies “cut corners” to train language-generative AI, including ChatGPT and other chatbots. Tech executives “discussed skirting copyright law,” and Meta, the parent company of Facebook, even considered buying Simon & Schuster to have access to longer works.

4.10.24

Goddard College in Vermont, which offered a low-residency MFA in creative writing, has announced that it will close in May due to financial challenges and low enrollment, reports Inside Higher Ed.

4.9.24

PEN America has announced its longlists of finalists for the free speech organization’s literary awards, the winners of which will be announced April 29.

4.9.24

The Associated Press reports on the stress librarians are feeling as conservative activists continue to ramp up efforts to ban books, primarily titles that deal with race and queer themes, from school and public libraries.

4.9.24

The New Yorker profiles author Maggie Nelson.

4.9.24

Literary activists are lobbying to appoint a poet laureate for the city of Austin, Texas, the only city in the Lone Star State without an official bard, reports news channel KXAN.

4.9.24

The shortlist of finalists for the International Booker Prize have been announced: Selva Almada for Not a River, translated from the Spanish by Annie McDermott; Jenny Erpenbeck for Kairos, translated from the German by Michael Hofmann; Ia Genberg for The Details, translated from the Swedish by Kira Josefsson; Itamar Vieira Junior for Crooked Plow, translated from the Portuguese by Johnny Lorenz; Jente Posthuma for What I’d Rather Not Think About, translated from the Dutch by Sarah Timmer Harveyand Hwang Sok-yong for Mater 2-0, translated from Korean by Sora Kim-Russell and Youngjae Josephine Bae.

4.8.24

Ingram Publisher Services has spurred panic among small presses after issuing deadlines for them to claim remaining book inventory after the closure of Small Press Distribution (SPD), an indie publishing distributor that was partnered with Ingram, reports Publishers Weekly. Small presses have reported not receiving final payments from SPD or clear directions about how to retrieve books that SPD was supposed to distribute for them.

4.8.24

Jina Moore has resigned from her role as Guernica’s editor in chief after the online literary magazine retracted an essay by Joanna Chen about living in Israel in the aftermath of the October 7 attack and the ensuing war in Gaza. Moore says she disagreed with the decision to retract the essay amid criticism that it “normalized the violence Israel has unleashed in Gaza,” she wrote in a statement on her personal website. “Guernica will continue, but I am no longer the right leader for its work.”

4.8.24

The New York Times offers a list of titles that were the most targeted by activists seeking to ban them from school and public libraries last year, which set a new record in book banning efforts nationwide. Gender Queer, an illustrated memoir by Maia Kobabe, is at the top of the list.

Week of April 1st, 2024
4.5.24

The Washington Post offers some tips for finding gems at used bookstores.

4.5.24

Simon & Schuster celebrates its one hundredth anniversary this year; Publishers Weekly looks back at the publisher’s history and considers its future.

4.5.24

The Atlantic considers George Orwell’s 1946 retreat in the Isle of Jura in Scotland, where he wrote 1984.

4.4.24

Caitlyn Shea has been named the new executive director of the Walt Whitman Birthplace Association, which manages the farmhouse in Huntington, Long Island, where Walt Whitman was born in 1819 and which now hosts poetry readings, workshops, and other events.

4.4.24

Ed Simon offers a history of the literary anthology at JSTOR Daily.

4.4.24

The Washington Post reports on the closure of Small Press Distribution.

4.4.24

In the Guardian, author Kester Brewin argues that writers should include a transparency statement in their books about their use of AI. “Until we have some mechanism by which we can test for AI—and that will be extraordinarily difficult—we at least need a means by which writers build trust in their work by being transparent about the tools they have used.”

4.4.24

One of the world’s oldest books will go up for auction this spring, reports CNN. The Crosby-Schøyen Codex, a Christian liturgical book written in the Coptic language on papyrus in Egypt, dates between the middle of the third and fourth centuries.

4.3.24

Guadeloupian author Maryse Condé, who in 2018 won the New Academy Prize—an “alternative” to the Nobel Prize in Literature, which in 2018 was suspended due to a controversy—has died at age 90.

4.3.24

Language-generative AI does not need to be trained with copyrighted texts in order to perform well, according to the leaders of a French company profiled by Euronews.

4.3.24

Author John Barth, a leading figure of postmodern fiction, has died at age 93.

4.3.24

Literary Hub considers how small presses are faring in the aftermath of the closure of Small Press Distribution.

4.3.24

On Literary Hub Allison Rudnick, a curator of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, explores how literary magazines played an integral role in the development of graphic design.

4.2.24

The winners of this year’s Windham-Campbell Prizes have been announced: Deirdre Madden and Kathryn Scanlan for fiction, Christina Sharpe and Hanif Abdurraqib for nonfiction, Christopher Chen and Sonya Kelly for drama, and M. NourbeSe Philip and Jen Hadfield for poetry. The awards, which offer $175,000 to each winner, are administered by Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

4.2.24

More than two dozen items owned by Sylvia Plath will be for sale at the New York Antiquarian Book Fair this week, including a painting by the poet, her personal books—at least one with annotations—and other materials offered by Type Punch Matrix, a rare book company.

4.2.24

The Los Angeles Review of Books shares papers by nine poets and critics about poet Lyn Hejinian, who died in February. The papers were delivered in February at the 51st annual Louisville Conference on Literature & Culture.

4.2.24

Fine Books & Collections magazine offers a preview of a museum exhibition on the life of Franz Kafka, who died in 1924. Marking the centennial of the author’s death, “Kafka: Making of an Icon” will open in May at the Weston Library of the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom and travel to the Morgan Library in New York, where it will run from November 22 through April 13, 2025.

4.2.24

On Thursday evening at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., U.S. Poet Laureate Ada Limón will launch You Are Here: Poetry in the Natural World, the anthology she edited as part of her signature project as poet laureate. Limón will also preside that evening at the inaugural Mary Oliver Memorial Event, which celebrates the donation of Oliver’s personal papers—including notebooks, correspondence, and other materials—to the Library of Congress in December.

4.1.24

The Intercept reports on multiple controversies at PEN America, which has received criticism from its staff and the writing community over the free speech organization’s response to the war in Gaza.

4.1.24

In the New York Times Margaret Renkl honors National Poetry Month, which starts today, with an essay about the work of U.S. Poet Laureate Ada Limón: “Ms. Limón isn’t merely an ambassador for how poetry can heal us. She also makes a subtle but powerful case for how poetry can heal the earth itself.”

4.1.24

The Edible Book Festival may be “spiritually linked to April Fool’s Day,” but it is a real festival indeed, writes Literary Hub. An informal, international affair, the festival is open to anyone who wants to put on a tasty literary event. A quick internet search reveals Edible Book Festivals happening this week in Bowdoinham, Maine; Buffalo, New York; and Urbana, Illinois.

4.1.24

A boycott of the Poetry Foundation over its silence on the war in Gaza has been lifted after activists engaged in communications with the foundation, according to a statement by organizers of the boycott. The Poetry Foundation has issued a statement of its own: “We maintain that it is not the role of the Poetry Foundation to make institutional statements about geopolitical crises. What we can do, however, is provide a platform for poets who are most impacted by and connected to those crises, and use the space we take up in the world of poetry accordingly.”

Week of March 25th, 2024
3.29.24

Finalists for Canada’s 2024 Griffin Poetry Prize have been announced, including Jorie Graham for To 2040, Ishion Hutchinson for School of Instructions, Ann Lauterbach for Door, Ben Lerner for The Lights, Fred Moten for Perennial Fashion Presence Falling, and Mira Rosenthal for her translation of To the Letter by Tomasz Różycki. Read about recent changes to the Griffin Poetry Prize in Poets & Writers Magazine.

3.29.24

As National Reading Month comes to a close, NPR offers some tips for how to read more books in 2024.

3.28.24

Small Press Distribution has announced that it will close its doors after fifty-five years in business. The nonprofit book distributor for independent presses across the U.S. cited “declining sales and the loss of grant support from almost every institution” as context for its closure.

3.28.24

The Los Angeles Review of Books writes about Toni Morrison’s rejection letters to writers during the Nobel laureate’s time as a senior editor at Random House. “Morrison’s rejections tend to be long, generous in their suggestions, and direct in their criticism.”

3.28.24

The finalists for the Lambda Literary Awards have been announced in twenty-six categories, representing “outstanding LGBTQ+ literature from 2023.”

3.28.24

PEN America’s staff union, PEN America United, says the free speech organization is attempting “to chill the free expression of its own workers—at a time when PEN America is facing mounting outrage from hundreds of prominent authors for its inadequate response on the war in Gaza,” according to a statement by the union. The accusation comes in response to language PEN America proposed during bargaining with the union this month that would discipline staff for engaging in “political activity that ‘impacts the ability of PEN America to engage in its mission.’” PEN America’s management disputes the charges, according to Publishers Weekly.

3.28.24

At Literary Hub managing editor Emily Temple weighs in on her favorite covers of books released this month, noting the abundance of bright colors.

3.28.24

Harvard University discovered a book in its Houghton Library that was bound with human skin, the BBC reports. Des Destinées de l’Ame, written by by Arsène Houssaye in the mid-1880s, “is a meditation on the soul and life after death.” Harvard has “announced it has removed the binding ‘due to the ethically fraught nature of the book’s origins and subsequent history’.”

3.27.24

For his story collection The Hive and the Honey, Paul Yoon was named this year’s winner of the Story Prize; the annual award for a book of U.S. fiction celebrates its twentieth anniversary this year.

3.27.24

The Washington Post offers a history lesson on the Maryland-born poet who is the namesake of the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore, which collapsed after it was struck by a cargo ship yesterday. Best known for penning “The Star-Spangled Banner,” Key wrote other verse and—like so many lionized U.S. historical figures—held disturbing views that have spurred many to question why his name should be commemorated.

3.27.24

The winners of the 2024 Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards from the Cleveland Foundation have been announced: Ned Blackhawk in nonfiction for The Rediscovery of America, Teju Cole in fiction for Tremor, and Monica Youn in poetry for From From. Maxine Hong Kingston was awarded a lifetime achievement award.

3.27.24

Influential literary scholar Marjorie Perloff has died at age 92, reports the New York Times.

3.26.24

Publishing revenue ticked up modestly overall last year, though adult trade sales took a slight dip, reports Publishers Weekly. Digital audio sales, however, leapt upward in the adult segment by 16 percent.

3.26.24

Fashion brand Chanel recently hosted a “Literary Rendez-vous” in Paris with author Rachel Cusk, model Naomi Campbell, and Chanel ambassador Charlotte Casiraghi, reports RUSSH, an Australian fashion magazine. Chanel apparently has a “rich literary tradition”; its last Literary Rendez-vous featured author Jeanette Winterson, critic Erica Wagner, and Chanel ambassador and actress Kristen Stewart.

3.26.24

The Nation profiles author Viet Thanh Nguyen.

3.25.24

Publishers Weekly has named eight presses to its 2024 list of fast-growing independent publishers, including Mad Cave Studios in Miami, Florida; Microcosm Publishing in Portland, Oregon; and Forefront Books in Nashville.

3.25.24

For those who prefer boo-hoos to basketball, Electric Literature has launched March Sadness, a tournament of bleak books. Voting starts today on the literary website’s social media channels, where voters can weigh in on the biggest tearjerker: Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, Justin Torres’s We the Animals, Hanya’s Yanagihara’s A Little Life, or some other tale of woe.

3.25.24

Philip Metres and Jessica Jacobs discuss their new poetry collections and the serendipity of their shared themes and book-cover imagery on Ideastream, a public broadcaster in Cleveland. Metres’s Fugitive/Refuge, forthcoming in April from Copper Canyon Press, and Jacobs’s Unalone, published by Four Way Books this month, have the same cover photograph and meditate on family history and faith.

3.25.24

Stephen King’s Carrie was first published a half century ago this year. In the New York Times Margaret Atwood reflects on the lure and importance of this horror classic.