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.
“Why are people so preoccupied? What is genre in the first place? Who invented it? Why am I perceived to have crossed a kind of boundary?” Kazuo Ishiguro and Neil Gaiman discuss The Buried Giant, fantasy and genre for the New Statesman. Pair with our own Lydia Kiesling‘s review of the novel.
The new issue of Story South dedicated its “Special Feature: Southern Poets” section to the work of Kathryn Stripling Byer. To wit, you can check out two of her poems – “Waiting for Bob” and “Making Myself at Home” – as well as an interview between her and Terry Kennedy, and a review of her latest collection, Descent.
“In a genre that has long been dominated by white men and Western mythological tropes, Ms. Okorafor’s stories, which feature young black girls in starring roles as superheroes and saviors of humanity, have been hailed as groundbreaking.” The New York Times shines a spotlight on Nnedi Okorafor and other African American science fiction and fantasy writers building on -and popularizing-a tradition of African and African American folklore in the sci fi and fantasy genre.