Daily News from Poets & Writers

Louisiana Governor Nixes State Poem


Kathleen Blanco, the governor of Louisiana, recently vetoed a bill to designate “I Love My Louisiana” as the state poem. The twenty-three-line poem was written by seventy-two-year-old Prairieville resident James Ellis Richardson.

Lethem and Sorrentino Revealed as Coauthors of "Secret" Book


The true identity of the authors of Believeniks!, a nonfiction account of the New York Mets 2005 baseball season, published in April by Doubleday, was recently reported by New York Magazine. The pseudonymous authors, Harry Conklin and Ivan Felt, were revealed to be novelists Jonathan Lethem (Conklin) and Christopher Sorrentino (Felt).

Retired Mechanical Designer Wins Contest for Worst Writing


Jim Guigli, a retired mechanical designer who lives in Carmichael, California, recently won the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest—a distinction that many writers would just as soon avoid. The award, sponsored by the English department at San Jose State University, is given annually for the worst opening sentence of a novel.

Writing Contest Offers a Spot On Amazon.com


The social networking Web site Gather.com recently launched a contest that offers creative writers a chance to sell their submissions through Amazon Shorts, a program developed by Amazon.com that sells short stories and essays in a digital format for forty-nine cents each.

Authors On Book Tours Try Their Luck at Casinos


In addition to the standard venues for literary readings—bookstores, bars, libraries, and coffee shops—casinos are becoming attractive locations for authors who want to take a gamble on scheduling nontraditional appearances while on book tours.

Annual IPPY Awards Honor the Best From Small Presses


The winners of the 2006 Independent Publisher Book Awards (the IPPYs) were recently announced. Given in sixty-five categories, the annual awards are intended to bring increased recognition to books published in the past year by independent and university presses as well as self-published titles.

Reading Series Raises Money for Brooklyn Elementary School


Paul Auster, Jonathan Safran Foer, Jhumpa Lahiri, Jonathan Lethem, Rick Moody, Gary Shteyngart, and Colson Whitehead are among the authors who have participated in a reading series to raise money for a new library at Public School 107, an elementary school in Brooklyn, New York.

The Loft Literary Center Announces Mcknight Fellows


The Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis recently announced the winners of the 2006 McKnight Artist Fellowships. The $25,000 fellowships are given in alternating years to Minnesota poets and writers of fiction and literary nonfiction.

AbeBooks Reveals Ten Most Expensive Books Sold


To celebrate its tenth anniversary, AbeBooks recently compiled a list of the ten most expensive used books that have been sold on its Web site since 1996. The list includes a first edition of The Hobbit, published in 1937. The book, one of only 1,500 copies printed, sold for $65,000. A copy of the first collection of John Donne’s poems, published in 1633, sold for $60,000. And an inscribed copy of George Orwell’s 1984 sold for $26,500. 

New Study Shows Decline in U.S. Book Production


Book production in the U.S. last year totaled 172,000 titles, a decrease from 2004 of 18,000 titles, or nearly ten percent, according to a recent study by R. R. Bowker, the publisher of the Books in Print database and the official agency for assigning ISBNs in the United States.