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John Barr: Invested in Poetic Currency

News and Trends

July/August 2004

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When John Barr was named president of the Poetry Foundation six months ago, most poets in the country were asking themselves, “John who?” Although Barr has published six books of poetry and served on the board of directors of Yaddo as well as that of the Poetry Society of America, many poets had never heard of him. His long career as an investment banker on Wall Street hadn’t raised his literary profile either. The worlds of high finance and poetry are totally unrelated. Not anymore. In 2002, Ruth Lilly’s unprecedented financial gift—$100 million over the next 30 years—to the Poetry Foundation, formerly the Modern Poetry Association, changed all that. Suddenly poets are paying attention to what an investment banker has to say.

Helping Soldiers to Write the War

News and Trends

July/August 2004

In April the National Endowment for the Arts launched Operation Homecoming, a program of creative writing workshops for soldiers returning from combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Contester: The Failure of Zoo's Fiction Contests

News and Trends

July/August 2004

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In this inaugural installment of our new column, The Contester, devoted to the news and trends of literary contests, we look at Neil Azevedo's Zoo Press, a press that despite being well known for its poetry books and prizes (the Kenyon Review Prize and the Paris Review Prize), hasn't had much luck in the fiction arena.

 

Literary MagNet

News and Trends

July/August 2004

Literary MagNet chronicles the start-ups and closures, successes and failures, anniversaries and accolades, changes of editorship and special issues—in short, the news and trends—of literary magazines in America. This issue's MagNet features Midnight Mind Magazine, Small Spiral Notebook, Swink, Mot Juste, the Canary, Blackbird, Ducky, Parakeet, and Rhino.

Notes of a Native American: Chronicle of a Collaboration

The Literary Life

July/August 2004

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Notes of a Native Son, James Baldwin’s best-known book, was published in 1955 by Beacon Press. Baldwin’s editor then was Sol Stein, whom he’d known since high school. This essay is an excerpt from Stein’s Introduction to Native Sons by Baldwin and Stein, which will be published by One World, an imprint of Random House, next month. The book includes correspondence between Stein and Baldwin that produced Notes of a Native Son.

Memoir: Whose Life Is It Anyway?

News and Trends

July/August 2004

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Appearing in someone else’s memoir is like appearing in someone else’s dream. Your role is scripted according to the vagaries of the author’s memory and subjected to the Rorschach test of the heart. This utter lack of editorial control is the second thought I have on learning, in the pages of the New York Times Book Review, that the son of my late ex-husband has published a memoir of his father, the poet William Matthews.

Small Press Points

News and Trends

July/August 2004

Small Press Points highlights the happenings of the small press players. This issue features Green Integer, Coffee House Press, Verse Press, Fiction Collective Two, and Kelsey St. Press.

An Interview With Poet Vijay Seshadri

Direct Quote

Online Only, posted 6.29.04

Vijay Seshadri was born in Bangalore, India, in 1954, and moved to Columbus, Ohio, at the age of five. He has lived in various parts of the country, including Oregon, where he worked as a commercial fisherman, and as a biologist for the National Marine Fish Service. He drove a truck for a living in San Francisco, and worked briefly as a logger before coming to New York City to study with poet Richard Howard in the master's program at Columbia University.

An Interview With Poet John Barr

Direct Quote

Online Only, posted 6.17.04

Six months ago, John Barr was named president of the Poetry Foundation. While many poets had never heard of the former Wall Street investment banker (although he is the author of six books of poetry and served on the board of directors of Yaddo as well as that of the Poetry Society of America) many are now acutely aware of the leader of the organization that received a pledge of $100 million over the next thirty years from pharmaceutical heiress Ruth Lilly.

An Interview With Poet Rebecca Wolff

Direct Quote

Online Only, posted 6.03.04

Rebecca Wolff's second collection of poems, Figment, won the 2003 Barnard Women Poets Prize and was published by Norton in April. Her first book, Manderley, was chosen by Robert Pinsky for the 2000 National Poetry Series; it was published by the University of Illinois Press the following year. That publication record alone would satisfy most poets. But Wolff's accomplishments don't end there.

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