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Book News: It's Snowing Poet Laureates

Laurels: perfect for the poet laureate on your holiday list.
Laurels: perfect for the poet laureate on your holiday list.

The daily lowdown on books, publishing and the occasional author behaving badly.

Lately, state governments have been waxing poetic. Showing their more aesthetic side, North Carolina has named its new state poet laureate, while both Ohio and Massachusetts are moving forward with plans to establish similar posts at home.

In an announcement Monday, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory appointed Shelby Stephenson to the role of poet laureate. The decision was greeted with cheers from many in the state's literary community, including poet Anthony Abbott, who told the Charlotte Observer that the former professor at the University of North Carolina, Pembroke, is "the earth, a true North Carolinian, a wonderful poet and a splendid human being."

The joy stands in stark contrast to the furor that followed McCrory's last appointment, Valerie Macon, whose tenure in July lasted just six days amid criticism that the governor failed to follow the standard selection process. Macon is a state disability examiner, who critics said lacked significant literary bona fides.

North Carolina's not the only state with poetry on its mind. Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed a bill Friday that established a state poet laureate of its own, according to the Associated Press. The newly minted law "would allow the governor to select the poet laureate from a list developed by the Ohio Arts Council" — a selection that will take effect when the post opens its inaugural term on Jan. 1, 2016.

Just a few steps behind these states, Massachusetts has a bill in the works to establish a poet laureate, too. In a blog for the Library of Congress, Peter Armenti notes that if Massachusetts passes the bill, the state will join a long list of states that now feature the position — a list Armenti compiles here.

B&N Now Sole Owner Of The Nook:On the heels of its agreement to buy out Microsoft's ownership stake in the e-reader Nook, Barnes & Noble has struck a similar deal with the publisher, Pearson. Publishers Weekly reportsthat the mega-bookseller has agreed to purchase Pearson's share of Nook Media for a price of $13.7 million, as well as some 600,000 shares of common stock in Barnes & Noble. The deal, which ends Person's 5 percent stake in the Nook, reportedly gives Barnes & Noble full ownership over the struggling device.

Lit Mags (Should) Live:The life span of a new literary journal isn't likely to be a long one; in fact, a pessimistic prognosis might even place it next to that of a fruit fly. But Peter Kispert argues, "ignoring or excluding the newest efforts is foolish: these are valuable and needed additions to the literary scene — reminders of work yet to be done and news of the great work to come." At Ploughshares, Kispert draws together some new magazines worthy of attention — and even, hopefully, long and healthy lives.

Note:Book News will be taking a brief break for the holiday. But don't fear for a lonely Boxing Day: The column will be back on Friday.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Colin Dwyer covers breaking news for NPR. He reports on a wide array of subjects — from politics in Latin America and the Middle East, to the latest developments in sports and scientific research.