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The IWJ Blog: Commentary on books, entertainment and writing
Books to Film
Is your favorite short story, book or comic being made into a movie? Check out our Books to Film
section, which has detailed listings of books being adapted into upcoming feature films. Abraham Lincoln,
Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith, The Amazing Spider-Man by Stan Lee, We Can Remember It For You Wholesale
by Philip K. Dick and The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien are all getting film adaptations this year.
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Luci Tapahonso as the first Navajo Nation Poet Laureate
Luci Tapahonso has been named the first Navajo Nation Poet Laureate. The announcement was made by Navajo Technical College (NTC) President Dr. Elmer J. Guy. Tapahonso will be formally introduced to the public at NTC's spring commencement on May 17th.
Dr. Guy said in a statement, "A poet laureate is being honored by the Navajo Nation and Navajo Technical College in an effort to encourage other Navajo poets, writers, film makers, and artists to realize how important their work is to the continuance and growth of Navajo contemporary culture. Luci represents the best of what it is to be Diné, honoring our traditions, while at the same time forming a contemporary voice that speaks beautifully to all people."
Luci was born in Shiprock, NM in 1953 to a family of 11 children. She received her bachelors and masters degrees from the University of New Mexico while majoring in English. She has taught English at the University of Kansas and the University of Arizona in Tucson.
Tapahonso is the author of five books of poetry and stories and one children's book. Her poetry collections include Saanii Dahataal (1993) and Blue Horses Rush In (1997). She was named the Storyteller of the Year by the Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers om 1999. She also won the the Region Book Award from the Mountains & Plains Booksellers Association in 1998. You can find her bio here.
Warsan Shire Wins Brunel University African Poetry Prize
Warsan Shire has been announced as the winner of the inaugural Brunel University African Poetry Prize. She is a 24-year-old Kenyan-born Somali poet and writer, based in London.
The judges described Warsan's poetry as "...beautifully crafted, subtle and understated in its use of language and metaphor yet still able to evoke a strong sense of mood and place that touches the reader."
Warsan's poetry pamphlet, Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth, was published in 2011 by flipped eye. Her poems have appeared in Wasafiri, Magma and Poetry Review and in the Salt Book of Younger Poets (Salt, 2011).
The Brunel University African Poetry Prize was founded by poet and novelist Bernardine Evaristo, who teaches Creative Writing at Brunel. The prize is open to poets who were born in Africa, who are nationals of an African country, or whose parents are African, but who have not yet published a full-length poetry collection. It carries a cash prize of 3,000 pounds. You can find more about the new annual prize here.
Photo: Courtesy of The Brunel University African Poetry Prize
The AV Club interviewed novelist Joe Hill who established himself as a writer long before people found out he's Stephen King's son. In the interview, Joe talks about creating memorable villains: "I think it's great if you can work out some way where the villain can say to himself, 'I'm the good guy in this. I'm doing an important service for the world here."
Hill continues, "And if I can find that hook, if I can find that handle I feel like I've done my job pretty well. And I do feel like I did it best in NOS4A2. I'm very, very, very proud of Horns and Heart-Shaped Box, but if there was one thing I was going to pick at, it's that the monsters are pretty monstrous. It's a little more satisfying if the bad guy is a little bit more emotionally complex, and can say to himself, 'No, I'm the one with the moral high ground here. I had to decapitate that person and eat his face. If I didn't do it, think what terrible things would have happened.'"
Hill says that the more we learn about a villain's backstory, the less scary he becomes. He uses Darth Vader as an example. Hill says Vader was great in the first movies. But then we eventually find out he's a petulant teenager with major issues. We would argue that the problem with the prequel movies was the miscasting of Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader -- not that we learned his backstory.
ALA Unveils Finalists for 2013 Andrew Carnegie Medals
The American Library Association (ALA) has announced the finalists for the 2013 Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction. The winners will be announced at the ALA's annual conference in Chicago on June 30. Each winning author will receive a $5,000 and the finalists will receive $1,500. The awards were established in 2012 and award books published in the U.S. in the previous year.
Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction finalists:
The Mansion of Happiness: A History of Life and Death by Jill Lepore
Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher: The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis/I> by Timothy Egan
Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic/I> by David Quammen
Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction finalists:
Kobo has announced its limited edition Kobo Aura HD ereader. The reader features a high resolution 6.8-inch Pearl E Ink display. The Auro has a 1GHz processor and 4GB of storage, which is expandable to 32GB. It has a battery life of two months. The device costs $169.99.
Michael Serbinis, CEO, Kobo, said in a statement, "From the beginning, Kobo has pushed the eReading industry to new heights and today is no exception. Kobo Aura HD is designed for the most passionate booklovers - those who devour hundreds of stories each year - who asked us to create the ultimate eReading experience. Kobo Aura HD is our way of celebrating these customers."
The Kobo devices compete with other ereaders, such as the Amazon Kindle, Nook and Sony Reader.
Bay Psalm Book Could Sell for $30 Million at Sotheby's Auction
The Bay Psalm Book is known as the first book printed in America. A copy of the book will be auctioned by Sotheby's on November 26, 2013 in New York. 1700 copies of the book were originally made, but just 11 survive today. Sotheby's says the book is "one of the greatest artifacts of American history."
You can find details about the auction here. Sotheby's lists the value of the extremely rare book at $15 million to $30 million.
The Whole Booke of Psalmes – known as The Bay Psalm Book – was produced in the Massachusetts Bay Colony by the Congregationalist Puritans who left England in search of religious freedom. The new poetical translation of the Psalms was made by leading scholars and ministers of colonial New England, including John Cotton, Richard Mather and John Eliot. The book was printed on a press sent from England.
Shortlist for Women's Prize for Fiction 2013 Announced
The shortlist for the Women's Prize for Fiction 2013 has been announced. The prize, founded in 1996, was formerly known as the Orange Prize for Fiction. The winner will receive a 30,000 pound cash prize and a bronze statue known as "The Bessie," which was created by artist Grizel Niven. Here is the shortlist:
Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
May We Be Forgiven by A.M. Homes
Flight Behaviour by Barbara Kingsolver
Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Manetl
Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
NW by Zadie Smith
Miranda Richardson, Chair of judges, said in a statement, "After an exhilarating meeting, all the judges were in agreement that this is an exceptional year for women's fiction. The shortlist for 2013 represents six tremendous writers at the top of their game. Their individual novels are flawlessly presented, they contain a heady mix of ideas and without exception take the reader on a unique and deeply satisfying journey."
Here is a video of the panel of judges discussing the finalists:
Orion Magazine editors say, "Apocalyptic Planet puts an entirely new spin on our usual preoccupations with climate change and catastrophe in general. This is a work deeply worthy of the Orion Book Award."
You can find a list of 2013 Orion Book Award finalists here.
Newly Discovered Oscar Wilde Letter Contains Writing Advice
The Telegraphreports that a previously unseen Oscar Wilde letter has been found. The 13-page letter is undated, but thought to have been written around 1890. The letter appears to have been targeted at a man named Mr. Morgan, a wannabe writer seeking advice. It contains some writing advice from Wilde.
Wilde says in the letter, "The best work in literature is always done by those who do not depend on it for their daily bread and the highest form of literature, Poetry, brings no wealth to the singer."
Wilde also writes, "Make some sacrifice for your art and you will be repaid but ask of art to sacrifice herself for you and a bitter disappointment may come to you."
Mike Heseltine, an auctioneer with Bloomsbury of London, told the Telegraph, "The gist of it is telling the recipient, a Mr Morgan, to write by all means but to make sure he has some other job to rely on for money."
We wonder what became of Mr. Morgan? Did he take Wilde's advice or are there some works by Mr. Morgan buried in the archives of some library in England.
Marie Ponsot Awarded $100,000 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize
The Poetry Foundation has named poet Marie Ponsot the winner of the 2013 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize. The award carries a $100,000 cash prize. It is administered by Poetry magazine and given annually to an American poet.
John Barr, president of the Poetry Foundation, said in a statement, "How fitting that the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, named for poetry's greatest benefactor, should this year honor Marie Ponsot, a woman who has herself made such major contributions to American poetry."
Marie Ponsot has published six poetry collections, including The Bird Catcher (1998), which won the National Book Critics Circle Award. Her latest poetry collection is Easy. Marie Ponsot has also translated over 30 books from French into English. Her bio can be found here.
A list of prior Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize recipients can be found here.
Tan Twan Eng won the 2012 Man Asian Literary Prize for his novel, The Garden of Evening Mists. He is the first Malaysian author to win the prize. The awards carries a $30,000 cash prize.
The novel is set in Malaya following the Japanese occupation. Professor David Parker, executive director of the Asian Literary Prize, said in a statement, "Achieved with the seemingly effortless poise of a remarkable fictional
artistry, Tan Twan Eng's winning novel will be prized by all those who cannot resist the mastery of language."
In a release the Asian Literary Prize says the current sponsor, Man Group, will be relinquishing its title sponsorship. A new title sponsor is being sought for the 2013 prize.
Book Publishers Protest Amazon's Application to Own All of .Book Domain
Publishers Weekly reports
that a group of book publishers is trying to stop Amazon.com's bid to purchase the .book domain from ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers). The Association of American Publishers (AAP) opposes Amazon's application saying that giving Amazon the exclusive use of the .book domain would not be in the public's best interest.
If Amazon is allowed to purchase the domain, no one else can use .book. The AAP argues that giving the domain exclusively would violate the "traditional primary meaning" of the word book. In addition, such an action would hurt book sellers, authors, publishers, libraries, agents, teachers and other professions traditionally associated with books.
These generic domains, like .book, are known as generic top-level domains or gTLDs. ICANN's website about gTLDs can be found at newgtlds.icann.org. ICANN says the goal of its new program is "to increase competition and choice in the domain name space."
Saturday Night Live took aim at Barnes & Noble this weekend with a skit about one store which has had a theft problem. The manager (host Kevin Hart) calls the bookstore staff and the cafe staff (Bobby Moynihan and Cecily Strong) to find out who is the culprit. The baristas take the opportunity to belittle their more nerdy co-workers. Given the recent announcement of how disastrous the Nook's sales have been, it's like kicking the chain when it's down. But every workplace does have a few odd employees. Taran Killam's creepy employee is the best character. Take a look:
Charles Wright has been named the winner of Yale's 2013 Bollingen Poetry. The biennial award carries a $150,000 cash prize. Wright won the award for his latest poetry collection, Bye-and-Bye: Selected Late Poems.
The judges described Wright's latest collection as, "an extended meditation in which we sense 'splinters of the divine' in the phenomena and cyclic changes of the natural world, and in the elusive reaches of memory, myth, and history."
Wright has authored nineteen poetry collections. In addition to writing poetry, Charles Wright is also professor emeritus of the University of Virginia's English department's Creative Writing Program. You can read more about Charles Wright here on virginia.edu.
Information about past Bollingen Poetry Prize winners can be found here.
Richard Blanco talks about his inaugural poem, "One Today." Blanco said he could have gone all the way back to the pilgrims, but he wanted to do something contemporary. Blanco says he wanted to capture a sense of where our generation is now. He did a great job with the poem.
You can watch a video of Blanco reading his poem at the inauguration here and you can find the full text of the poem here. Take a look: