New Rumpus contributor Marie Calloway.

Gearing up for President Obama's State of the Union address, the website RealClearBooks is posting daily "state of" reports. Kicking things off is “The state of American Books,” by Bookforum’s Chris Lehmann.

Was the threat that prevented Salman Rushdie from attending last weekend’s Jaipur Literary Festival real, or was it fabricated by Indian police? That’s the question overshadowing the scandal, which drove several authors home early out of concern for their safety after they read from Rushdie’s novel, The Satanic Verses, which remains banned in India. Rushdie says he was threatened by “paid assassins” (the Rajasthan government agrees), but a number of Indian media outlets are reporting that the Rajasthan police force invented the threat to scare Rushdie away. For his part, Rushdie has been tweeting threats made against him.

In a big victory for publishers, on Wednesday the Supreme Court overturned a 1994 ruling and extended copyright protection to a number of foreign books and artworks that had previously been in the public domain. The ruling—which was bitterly opposed by Google—affects texts by J.R.R. Tolkien and George Orwell, and some of Picasso’s paintings.

From the Rumpus’s “Sunday Fiction”: Ten reasons not to sleep with a poet. In other Rumpus news, the website’s “Letters in the Mail” series, which sends hard-copy letters to subscribers, has chosen a new contributor: Marie Calloway, who wrote a much-debated story about sleeping with a New York editor.

Last November, poet Jon Cotner “installed” fifteen lines of poetry along a trail in a Bronx old-growth forest. Audio and images of Cotner’s poetry-walkers are now online, including participants taking nature tips from Heraclitus: “You can’t step twice in the same river.”

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