Literary Curator

Newsletter #1

Dear Bibliophile,

Welcome to the inaugural edition of the Literary Curator. As the pandemic raged across the world, changing the very dynamics of how we live, reading patterns became increasingly fluid. I was a reporter for over a decade before I decided to pursue Masters in Creative Writing from University College Dublin. While browsing news from the publishing industry, I realised that I could bring to you a curated list of what’s happening in the field. For now, it will be a bi-weekly newsletter. From controversies to good old launches, I’ll write about some of the most intriguing news from around the world. There’ll also be tips and prompts for those dabbling in a bit of creative writing.

Happy reading!

5 literary news from around the world in 150 words

Renowned US-based Poetry Magazine publishes poem by convicted pedophile

Poetry Magazine has been mired in controversy since its new issue published works by “currently and formerly incarcerated people”, their families and prison workers. It includes a poem by Kirk Nesset, a former professor of English, jailed for possessing, receiving and distributing child sexual-abuse images. The United States’ prestigious magazine, published by the Poetry Foundation, stood by its decision even after much public furore and condemnation, releasing a statement on Twitter: “We recognise the life-shattering impact of violence and denounce harm. People in prison have been sentenced and are serving/have served those sentences; it is not our role to further judge or punish them as a result of their criminal convictions. As editors, our role is to read poems and facilitate conversations around contemporary poetry.” (Part of statement) The Foundation is yet to apologise for the trauma and insensitivity it showed to victims of child-abuse amid calls for boycott.

Age is just a number: At 95, an Irish woman publishes her first book

It’s never too late to become an author and Brigid Kavanagh has sent a strong, positive message by doing exactly so. From County Roscommon in the Republic of Ireland, Brigid turned 95 in February 2021 and published a collection of 95 poems and stories, one for each year in her life. This was a dream come true for her, a dream that began several decades ago. Her attempts to publish in the 1980s were unsuccessful but Brigid continued writing. She didn’t let it discourage her. Today, ‘In My Mind’s Eye, Walking Amongst Ghosts’ is a semi-memoir that made its author Brigid very happy and also became a beacon of hope to others. Her family and the pandemic had a huge role to play in it since the manuscript was discovered by Brigid’s two sons while they were cleaning the house, stuck at home because of lockdown, as reported by Irish Central.

No surprise as Paul McCartney set to publish a ‘lyrical autobiography’

Two volumes, 154 songs and 900 pages will come together to form The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present, Paul McCartney’s self portrait, to be released on November 2. It will chronicle people, places and circumstances that inspired McCartney’s songs, during and after the Beatles era. It’s edited by the brilliant and Pulitzer Prize–winning Irish poet Paul Muldoon, who also penned the introduction. The two volumes will include drafts, letters and photographs. In his press materials, McCartney said: ‘More often than I can count, I’ve been asked if I would write an autobiography, but the time has never been right. The one thing I’ve always managed to do, whether at home or on the road, is to write new songs. I know that some people, when they get to a certain age, like to go to a diary to recall day-to-day events from the past, but I have no such notebooks. What I do have are my songs, hundreds of them, which I’ve learned serve much the same purpose. And these songs span my entire life.’

Celebrated Palestinian writer and poet Mourid Barghouti dies at 77

Palestinian poet and novelist Mourid Barghouti died at the age of 77 in the Jordanian capital Amman February 14, 2021. Having spent a large part of life in exile, Barghouti was famous for his work on displacement and identity. Born on July 8, 1944, in the Palestinian village of Deir Ghassanah on the outskirts of the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, Barghouti moved to the Egyptian capital in 1963 to study English literature at Cairo University. Unable to return to his birth-land Ramallah for the next 30 years, he championed the Palestinian cause, writing about his homeland and the Israeli occupation. Internationally acclaimed autobiographical novel, I Saw Ramallah, is a memoir of exile and displacement, translated into English by Egyptian novelist Ahdaf Soueif, followed by I Was Born There, I Was Born Here, written after his return to Ramallah. Barghouti also published 12 poetry collections. (Pic Credit: Diaa Saleh)

Want a manga of your favourite show? Automatically generate it

Imagine if you didn’t have to slave over your sketch pads, burning the midnight oil, painfully creating artwork that is meticulous and beautiful. As technology has advanced, automating the generation of texts and images, it is no wonder that the same will be used to cut down on manual labour behind creative practices. According to news articles and a paper pre-published on arXiv, researchers from Dalian University of Technology in China and City University of Hong Kong built an innovative framework that automatically generates manga comic books by extracting data from TV series, movies, animations or other videos, without any human intervention. The creative form of manga is not only hugely popular on an international level but is also labour-extensive and time-consuming requiring highly-skilled professional artists. Currently under experimentation, this automated system is still far from perfect and needs more updation, as stated by the researchers.

5 magazines & competitions to submit your prose or poetry

Submitting can seem like a task at times. What helped me achieve a sense of purpose and direction was creating the dreaded Excel sheet (hate it, but it’s damn useful) with colour coded details. Here’s hoping I can convince some of you to finally shake off that anxiety, take a deep breath and click send. Few places to consider with upcoming deadlines:

  1. Banshee | March 1-31 | https://www.bansheelit.com/submit
  2. The Paris Review | March 1-31 | https://www.theparisreview.org/about/submissions
  3. Southword: New International Writing | January 1 ‒ March 31 | https://southword.submittable.com/submit
  4. Alpine Fellowship Writing Prize | Jan 1 – Apr 1 | Theme: Untamed: On Wilderness and Civilization https://alpinefellowship.submittable.com/submit/181985/alpine-fellowship-writing-prize-2021
  5. 4thWrite Short Story Prize, in association with the Guardian, a competition open to Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic writers | Submit by April, 30 | https://www.4thestate.co.uk/4thwriteprize_launch/

WRITING PROMPT: 

There’s so much happening in the world right now, it’s difficult to focus on one thing in particular.
Spring is here, colours have started to pop, there’s a crisp brightness in the air.
Do you believe there’s a pattern to it all? Your prompt is ‘KALEIDOSCOPE’.
I hope you have fun penning down all those colourful thoughts.

THINGS TO READ:

  • A poem by Mourid Barghouti published in the Challenger Magazine here.
  • As inspiration for Alpine Prize, an outdoor-hike short story published in the Outside Magazine here.

Until next time,
Literary Curator

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