paper trail

Danez Smith on failure and art; Writers and jealousy

Danez Smith. Photo: Hieu Minh Nguyen

The New York Times has hired Amal El-Mohtar as the Book Review’s science fiction and fantasy columnist. El-Mohtar is replacing N. K. Jemisin, who has been writing the Otherworldly column for the last two years.

The Observer reports on editorial shake-ups at two Tronc papers. Former New York Daily News editor in chief Jim Rich will return to the same role at the paper, while the Daily News’s current interim editor Jim Kirk has been hired as the editor in chief of the Los Angeles Times. Current LA Times editor Lewis D’Vorkin will be the chief content officer of Tronc.

Poet Danez Smith talks to The Guardian about gender, faith, and failure. “All art-making is about failure. We never get it right,” he said. “But poems are not poems if they make people feel dead. I want people to feel alive—even if it is alive with grief. I want people to feel their blood moving by the time I’m done.”

Mira T. Lee and Celeste Ng discuss writing and jealousy.“I always told myself that once I’d written the book I wanted to write, anything else would be gravy,” said Lee. “But suddenly I find myself plagued by feelings of insecurity and inadequacy, everything from ‘will my sales meet my publisher’s expectations?’ to ‘why didn’t that reader like my book?’”“Literally every single writer I have ever met has confessed to feeling insecure,”Ng agreed. “I’m 97 percent sure even Alice Munro and Toni Morrison are secretly annoyed when there’s a best-of list they’re not on.”

At the Washington Post, T.A. Frank argues that conservative political magazines like Commentary and the National Review “have become oddly vital once more.” “While Sean Hannity and Breitbart News carry water for Trump, and many liberal publications dodge introspection in favor of anti-Trump primal screams . . . conservative magazines are working to bring a plausible intellectual order to this new reality—and figure out what comes next,” he writes.