The first lines of a dozen noteworthy books including Seeing the Body by Rachel Eliza Griffiths and Parakeet by Marie-Helene Bertino.
Candice Carty-Williams reflects on a historic win; Malcolm Tariq remembers lessons from a beloved professor; Jennifer Baker recommends new and forthcoming books by Black authors; and other stories.
The New York Times will begin uppercasing “Black”; some U.K. libraries prepare to reopen; Saidiya Hartman reflects on writing as an act of building home; and other stories.
Six Black British poets reflect on poetry and protest; R. O. Kwon and Garth Greenwell discuss editing a literary anthology about kink; the American Booksellers Association and Out of Print debut literary face masks; and other stories.
Michigan is just past the three-month mark since entering a state of emergency and a stay-at-home order due to COVID-19 cases rising in our area. It’s been a long and very different spring for everyone, however, as of June 1 our stay-at-home order was finally lifted allowing businesses to slowly open up in phases.
We are still under a state of emergency through July, however, and indoor businesses are ordered to operate at only 50 percent, which means literary events are still primarily occurring virtually or not at all. By now, we are all familiar with Zoom meetings and other live-streaming platforms. Only a handful of Detroit-based literary workshops, open mics, and showcases have shifted to these virtual platforms, but this sudden shift to a mostly digitized world of meetings has created opportunities that may not have been possible otherwise.
When thinking about the best virtual literary events I have attended since March, readings by Mahogany Jones, Aricka Foreman, Nandi Comer, and Tariq Luthun come to the top of the list. In another time, these writers may not have had an opportunity to read together because of physical distance, but in this digital space it was a privilege to hear these writers share their work.
Our Poets & Writers roundtable event held virtually for Detroit was also successful in bringing together event planners from in and around the city. This was a great way to build community among people looking for similar opportunities in our immediate area. A meeting of this nature is not something that occurs often because of complications with schedules, location, and other barriers, but offering this panel to discuss Readings & Workshops mini-funds and shared experiences online made it more accessible.
Over the last month, Black Lives Matter protests in response to the murder of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and many others encouraged thousands to brave the looming threat of COVID-19 in order to make important statements about the mistreatment of Black people by police forces. In Detroit, these protests included organized outdoor open mics that became the first stage many writers and performers have touched since March. This reminded me of how writers, along with others in our community, continue to fight to share our voices and contribute to positive change, even in the midst of a pandemic.
Through these lenses, there is a silver lining to highlight from the last three months: Writers are resilient and will continue to find a way to write, share, organize, and build community no matter the challenge.Justin Rogers is the literary outreach coordinator for Poets & Writers in Detroit. Contact him at Detroit@pw.org or on Twitter, @Detroitpworg.
Resources and ideas for fighting racial injustice and police violence, both on and off the page.
The author of The Prettiest Star celebrates the magic of minor characters.
The Book Industry Charitable Foundation announced the winners of its higher education scholarships; writers recommend texts on race and racism in America; Shelf Awareness turns fifteen; and other stories.
With the spread of COVID-19, organizers of literary events across the United States have devised creative ways to move programming online and build community among writers.
A message to self-proclaimed allies: Actions speak louder than words.