Out this week: A River of Stars by Vanessa Hua; Flights by Olga Tokarczuk; Severance by Ling Ma; Pretty Things by Virginie Despentes; Attention: Dispatches from a Land of Distraction by Joshua Cohen (which you can read an excerpt of here at The Millions); and Night Soil by Dale Peck.
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.
Jacket Copy visits Joan Didion at her apartment in Manhattan to discuss Blue Nights, which moves back and forth between the death of Didion’s 39-year-old daughter, Quintana, six years ago and the author’s reflections on aging. The book is a much anticipated follow-up to 2005’s The Year of Magical Thinking, in which Didion wrote about the death of her husband, John Gregory Dunne.