In honor of poet Robert Bly's 75th birthday last month, the Minneapolis-based Loft Literary Center, in conjunction with the McKnight Foundation, revived Bly's innovative literary magazine—originally titled The Fifties, in honor of the decade in which it was founded—by publishing the first issue of The Thousands.
Six months ago, John Barr was named president of the Poetry Foundation. While many poets had never heard of the former Wall Street investment banker (although he is the author of six books of poetry and served on the board of directors of Yaddo as well as that of the Poetry Society of America) many are now acutely aware of the leader of the organization that received a pledge of $100 million over the next thirty years from pharmaceutical heiress Ruth Lilly.
On September 25, nearly two years after pulling up stakes in New York City's SoHo neighborhood, Poets House opened the doors to its new location in lower Manhattan, kicking off a long-awaited inaugural season of readings, workshops, exhibitions, and outreach programs.
PEN American Center, the U.S. branch of the international literary and human rights group, announced yesterday that it has been awarded a twenty-five-thousand-dollar grant by Amazon. The money will support PEN’s Freedom to Write Program, which advocates on behalf of imprisoned or persecuted writers worldwide, as well as its Campaign for Core Freedoms, which opposes censorship in the United States.
A coalition of organizations representing artists and cultural workers has entered the national debate on healthcare reform. Americans for the Arts, in conjunction with twenty other national nonprofit groups, has called on Congress to enact a public health insurance option for individual artists, along with measures making it easier for cash-strapped cultural organizations to provide adequate coverage for employees.
Literature-craving commuters in New York City can now enjoy their own version of a program first launched in the London Underground six months ago—a free book exchange. Choose What You Read NY, a volunteer-run nonprofit, has begun setting up camp near major subway stations on the first Tuesday of each month to collect and redistribute donated books.
PEN American Center, the U.S. division of the world’s oldest literary and human rights organization, yesterday announced the appointment of Steven L. Isenberg as executive director. Isenberg, a professor, lawyer, and former publisher, will replace Michael Roberts, who stepped down in June after eleven years in the position.
In 1998, Dan Bowers, an engineering consultant in Red Lion, Pennsylvania, was on a mission. His son-in-law, Chief Master Sergeant Frederick Honeywell, was serving at an Air Force base in Kuwait that had no recreational facilities and no library—and indeed, no books. When Honeywell's wife, Chris, told her father about the problem, Bowers sent some of his own books, as well as donations from others, overseas. It was the first deployment of what eventually became Operation Paperback. Six years later, the nonprofit organization has sent nearly 150,000 books to American troops in more than 30 locations, including Afghani-stan, Iraq, Bosnia, and Kosovo.
After sitting through a lecture about the harsh reality of literary publishing, an idealistic MFA grad took action and founded the Literary Ventures Fund, whose mission is to financially support books of all genres.
Another literary casualty of the ailing market, the International Poetry Forum (IPF) in Pittsburgh will cease its poetry programming after this season.