paper trail

Jamaican dub poet Linton Kwesi Johnson wins PEN Pinter Prize; Sarah M. Broom on Black authors’ freedom to write

Sarah M. Broom. Photo: Grove Atlantic

The Columbia Journalism Review is hosting a series of discussions with Black journalists about systemic racism in newsrooms. One of the participants, Wesley Lowery, observes, “there’s been a noticeable uptick in ‘Hey—could you give this a glance?’ notes that we’ve gotten from colleagues in recent weeks. And, to be clear, almost every black reporter I’ve ever encountered is eager and happy to help, but . . . there is very little appreciation of the real labor involved in being every person in the newsroom’s ‘black friend.'”

Austin Channing Brown talks about her memoir, I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness, which has become a bestseller and a pick for Reese Witherspoon’s “Hello Sunshine” book club.

The Yellow House author Sarah M. Broom talks to the New York Times’s “By the Book” column about Scholastic Book Fairs, reading in the bath, and what she’d like to see more of in publishing: “I wish . . . for the day when Black writers—especially women—are free to write whatever in the world they want. And are fairly paid for the thing they wrote.” For more on The Yellow House, see Danielle A. Jackson’s review in Bookforum’s winter issue.

A number of journalists, publishing professionals, and academics have signed “a lengthy response to the Harper’s letter,” which will be released this morning, Daily Beast media reporter Maxwell Tani announces on Twitter.

Gideon Lewis-Kraus writes a deep-dive into Slate Star Codex, the rationalist blog that became influential in Silicon Valley. After a New York Times reporter said he would use the real name of the blog’s anonymous founder in a profile, the site was abruptly shut down. Slate Star Codex’s tight-knit community was not happy, and Lewis-Kraus uses the ensuing conflict to illustrate the larger tension between tech and traditional journalism.

Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s former lawyer, has been serving his jail sentence for tax evasion and campaign-finance violations at home. But yesterday when he refused to sign paperwork that bars him from speaking to reporters, or publishing a book, he was taken back into custody.

Jamaican writer Linton Kwesi Johnson, known as the pioneer of dub poetry, has won the PEN Pinter Prize, which was created to “intended to defend freedom of expression and celebrate literature.” PEN judges pointed to his “political ferocity” and “tireless scrutiny of history.”

This Sunday at 5pm EST, Cambridge’s Harvard Book Store is cohosting a virtual fundraiser for Black lives with Boston Review. Panelists Elizabeth Hinton, Robin D.G. Kelley, Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, and Cornel West will discuss “where we must go to secure a racially just future.” Proceeds from the event will be split between Critical Resistance, National Bail Out, and The OWL Movement Inc.