If you haven’t already, be sure to check out the new books and culture website The Nervous Breakdown. They’ve already got a great interview with Millions favorite Dan Chaon, as well as some interesting essays that I’m looking forward to digging into. I also like their “self-interview” series–where writers ask, and answer, their own questions.
This past Wednesday Tracy K. Smith officially began her term as the new U.S. Poet Laureate. After adding her name to the guest book traditionally signed by poet laureates upon the start of their one year term, she read aloud from previously published poetry collections and introduced new work. Ron Charles from the Washington Post reports “[a]mong her most powerful new pieces were ‘found poems’ constructed from archival letters that African American veterans sent to President Lincoln asking for pensions they were owed.” Smith is the first poet laureate appointed by the new Librarian of Congress, Carla Hayden. Stay tuned for her upcoming efforts to engage rural communities in poetry discussions.
For the past 17 years, the Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award has celebrated “six women writers who demonstrate excellence and promise in the early stages of their careers.” This year’s winners are Melanie Diane (poetry), Apricot Irving (nonfiction), Fowzia Karimi (fiction), Namwali Serpell (fiction), Merritt Tierce (fiction), and JoAnn Wypijewski (nonfiction). They will accept their awards on September 22 in New York City.
Elizabeth Kostova’s follow-up to The Historian is out today. The Swan Thieves was one of our “Most Anticipated” books. Also out today is Day out of Days, a collection of stories by Sam Shepard, and Game Change, an account of the 2008 presidential race from John Heilemann and Mark Halperin, a pair of big name political reporters.