| Give a Gift |

  • Digital Edition

Poets & Writers Blogs

The longlist for the 2014 National Book Award in Fiction has been announced. The list represents a notable range of emerging and established writers, including such heavy-hitters as Richard Powers (who won the award in 2006) and Pulitzer Prize winners Marilynne Robinson and Jane Smiley, alongside debut novelist and Mountain Goats frontman John Darnielle, and Molly Antopol and Phil Klay, who were both nominated for debut story collections.

The ten long-listed finalists are: Rabih Alameddine, An Unnecessary Woman (Grove Press); Molly Antopol, The UnAmericans (Norton); John Darnielle, Wolf in White Van (Farrar, Straus and Giroux); Anthony Doerr, All the Light We Cannot See (Scribner); Phil Klay, Redeployment (Penguin); Emily St. John Mandel, Station Eleven (Knopf); Elizabeth McCracken, Thunderstruck & Other Stories (The Dial Press); Richard Powers, Orfeo (Norton); Marilynne Robinson, Lila (Farrar, Straus and Giroux); and Jane Smiley, Some Luck (Knopf).

Robinson, who won the Pulitzer Prize for her 2004 novel Gilead, has twice been a finalist for the National Book Award, for her novels Home (2008) and Housekeeping (1980). Antopol was named one of the National Book Foundation's 5 Under 35 recipients in 2013.

The judges in for the 2014 National Book Award in Fiction are Geraldine Brooks, Sheryl Cotleur, Michael Gorra, Adam Johnson, and Lily Tuck. Publishers submitted a total of 417 titles for this year's award.

The nonfiction longlist was announced yesterday, and the poetry longlist was announced on Tuesday. The longlist in young people’s literature was released on Monday.

Shortlists in all four categories will be announced October 15, and the winners on November 19 at the National Book Foundation’s annual awards ceremony in New York City.

For bios of the finalists and judges, visit the National Book Foundation website.

Photo: Marilynne Robinson

Have you ever been the subject of a work of art? What is it like to look at someone else’s artistic interpretation of who you are? This week, write a piece analyzing why the artist made the compositional choices he or she did. If you’ve never had a work of art created for you, write about how you’d want to be portrayed. What medium, lighting, color palette, and setting do you think would capture your spirit? Who would you want to create the piece? Where would you want it displayed?  

Does one of your characters have an obsession with their appearance? Is she the type that habitually glances at every reflective surface in order to catch a glimpse of herself? Does this behavior have a negative effect? This week, write a story in which this character can no longer examine her appearance. Perhaps she goes on a camping trip, or decides to take down all the mirrors in her house. Think about how this change in circumstance can impact the character’s mood, confidence, and outlook on life.

Louise Glück and Edward Hirsch and are among the ten longlisted finalists for the 2014 National Book Award in Poetry, which were announced this morning. Hirsch is nominated for his most recent book, Gabriel (Knopf), an elegy for his son, who died at the age of twenty-two. Glück makes the list for her twelfth collection, Faithful and Virtuous Night, published this month by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

The seven other books competing for the $10,000 prize include Collected Poems (Knopf) by Mark Strand, Roget’s Illusion (G.P. Putnam’s Sons) by Linda Bierds, A Several World (Nightboat) by Brian Blanchfield, Second Childhood (Graywolf) by Fanny Howe, This Blue (FSG) by Maureen N. McLane, The Feel Trio (Letter Machine Editions) by Fred Moten, Citizen: An American Lyric (Graywolf) by Claudia Rankine, and The Road to Emmaus (FSG) by Spencer Reece. Both Glück and Strand have served as poet laureate of the United States and have won Pulitzer Prizes. Earlier this year, Rankine recieved the $50,000 Jackson Prize from Poets & Writers, Inc.

Five shortlisted finalists will be announced on October 15. The longlist for young people’s literature was announced yesterday, and the longlists for fiction and nonfiction will be announced in the next two days. Winners in each category will be announced at the National Book Foundation’s annual awards ceremony in New York City on November 19.

The judges for this year’s poetry prize are Eileen Myles, Katie Peterson, Rowan Ricardo Phillips, Paisley Rekdal, and Robert Polito. The panel considered more than two hundred submissions. Books written by U.S. poets and published in the United States between December 1, 2013, and November 30, 2014, are eligible for this year’s awards.

To read conversations with both Edward Hirsch and Louise Glück, read the current issue of Poets & Writers Magazine. Watch a video of Hirsch speaking as part of a panel on Why We Write at the most recent Poets & Writers Live event in New York City.

Photos: Glück (Webb Chappell), Hirsch (Tony Gale)

We all have questions buzzing around in our heads. They could be questions about the future, a love interest, or what to make for dinner. We usually turn to family and friends for advice on such concerns, but what if you could ask your favorite poet? How would he or she respond? This week, pick a question that’s been on your mind. Then channel the voice of a poet of your choice who answers your question and offers much-needed advice.

Estelle Ford-Williamson, is coauthor of Seed of South Sudan: Memoir of a "Lost Boy" Refugee, and editor of the Lou Walker Center Writers Anthology, Vols. 1 and 2. She has received Poets & Writers grants to teach creative writing to young adults who have timed out of the foster care system in Atlanta, Georgia.

On the other end of the phone, a willing librarian listened: Would a library in north-central New York State be interested in a former Lost Boy of Sudan and his coauthor reading and discussing their recent book about his experience fleeing death in a religious/ethnic war, and his subsequent life adapting to Atlanta and now living on two continents?

Fortunately, the answer from Oswego Public Library’s Edward Elsner was yes. My coauthor Majok Marier and I began to put together an extensive road trip that included readings in four cities far from our Atlanta roots: Lakewood (Cleveland), Ohio; Oswego and Syracuse in New York; and Washington, D.C. One grant to appear at the Oswego Public Library was the catalyst that encouraged us to set up other readings–the grant was through Poets & Writers. During our tour, we met former Lost Boy John Bul Dau, author of God Grew Tired of Us and a South Sudan aid leader, and many others involved in refugee issues.

Our book, Seed of South Sudan: Memoir of a “Lost Boy” Refugee was published in May by McFarland and Company. It updates the story of the young men and women, thousands who arrived in America in 2001. Their resettlement was a part of an unprecedented airlift to provide futures for the young children facing limited lives in refugee camps due to a decades-long war. Now young men and women, they are spread throughout the United States (Australia and Canada, too) as they pursue an education and jobs that enable them to support family back home, as well as help build the new nation of South Sudan.

The welcome was warm at the Oswego Library, the “Castle on the Hill.” The historic building is a shrine to abolitionism and to the Free Library movement as the library was built by noted abolitionist Gerrit Smith. Our book tour coincided with heated protests in another part of the country to block entry of underage migrant children from Central America. It was probably one of the most emotional times in the recent national debate on refugees in the United States.

The reading yielded only appreciation, encouragement, and a desire to learn more about Majok and our journey together as coauthors of his story–his semi-nomadic life as young Dinka tribesman in the Rumbek area before fleeing his village in the war. Even more interest centered on his goal of drilling the first water wells in such villages.

Our trip affirmed the value of such face-to-face exchanges, and I highly recommend that writers contact this library and other venues in states and cities served by the Readings & Workshop program. All it took was a minimal amount of research, a willingness to cold-call possible sponsors, and an interest by a library to enrich their patrons’ literary experiences.

Photo: (top) Estelle Ford-Williamson. 

Photo: (bottom) Estelle Ford-Williamson, Majok Marier, and John Bul Dau. Photo Credits: Richard Williamson.

Support for Readings & Workshops in New York is provided, in part, by public funds from New York State Council on the Arts, with additional support from the Friends of Poets & Writers.

Some phrases, such as "toe the line," are so ingrained in our minds that we automatically link the phrase with its intended meaning (in this case, to conform to a set of rules) without thinking about the literal meaning (carefully placing your toes along a line on the ground). This week, pause for a moment and try to imagine the actions described in these idioms. When someone says you're "barking up the wrong tree," what do you picture? Is there an idiom that you use frequently, or that you've always been a bit confused by? Write a short personal essay about what this idiom means to you. Then do some research into its history, and if you decide to go further, look up how similar sentiments are expressed idiomatically in other languages.

Think back to your childhood, to the stories you remember being told. Was there a particular story you wanted to hear over and over again? This week, try and remember that story, and choose one of the characters from it. Take that character and write an entirely different story centered around new obstacles. For example, if you choose Pippi Longstocking, write a story in which she is raising her own family, or has become the captain of her father's ship after his retirement.

American writers Joshua Ferris and Karen Joy Fowler have made the shortlist for the 2014 Man Booker Prize, announced today by the Booker Prize Foundation. This year the prize was open for the first time to writers of any nationality whose fiction books were written in English and published in the previous year in the U.K. The winner, who will receive £50,000 (approximately $80,000), will be announced in London on October 14.

The finalists are: American writers Joshua Ferris for To Rise Again at a Decent Hour (Viking) and Karen Joy Fowler for We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves (Serpent’s Tail); Australian writer Richard Flanagan for The Narrow Road to the Deep North (Chatto & Windus); and British authors Howard Jacobson for J (Jonathan Cape), Neel Mukherjee for The Lives of Others (Chatto & Windus), and Ali Smith for How to Be Both (Hamish Hamilton). The six finalists were selected from a longlist of thirteen announced in July.

“As the Man Booker Prize expands its borders, these six exceptional books take the reader on journeys around the world, between the U.K., New York, Thailand, Italy, Calcutta and times past, present and future,” said A. C. Grayling, chair of the judges. “It is a strong thought-provoking shortlist which we believe demonstrates the wonderful depth and range of contemporary fiction in English.” Along with Grayling, the 2014 judges are Jonathan Bate, Sarah Churchwell, Daniel Glaser, Alastair Niven, and Erica Wagner.

Established in 1969, the Man Booker Prize was originally awarded to a writer who was a citizen of the U.K., the British Commonwealth, Zimbabwe, or the Republic of Ireland. Jonathan Taylor, chair of the foundation, announced the prize’s expansion last September. Recent winners include Eleanor Catton, Hilary Mantel, Julian Barnes, and Howard Jacobson.

Upper left: Joshua Ferris, photo by Laurent Denimal; Upper right: Karen Joy Fowler, photo by David Levenson


From: The Time Is Now

In the early and mid-twentieth century, the Dadaists would compose poems by making random selections from found text. This week, let your subconscious do the work. Take a newspaper article, or other piece of text, and carefully cut out each word. Next, throw all the clippings in a bag. Then, take one word out at a time. Arrange the words on a table in the order you drew them from the bag, and copy them down. As the Dadaists say, "The resulting poem will resemble you."

The Rona Jaffe Foundation has announced the recipients of the twentieth Rona Jaffe Awards, given annually to six emerging women writers. The foundation offers awards of $30,000 each to poets, fiction writers, and nonfiction writers.

The 2014 winners are poets Danielle Jones-Pruett of Salem, Massachusetts, and Solmaz Sharif of Oakland, California; fiction writers Olivia Clare of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and T. L. Khleif of Ann Arbor, Michigan; and nonfiction writers Karen Hays of Minneapolis and Mara Naselli of Grand Rapids, Michigan. They will be honored at a private reception in New York City on September 18, and will give a reading at New York University on September 19.

Novelist Rona Jaffe (1931–2005) established the awards in 1995 to “identify and support women writers of unusual talent and promise in the early stages of their writing careers.” The foundation has awarded nearly $2 million to emerging women writers. Previous recipients include Rachel Aviv, Elif Batuman, Eula Biss, Sarah Braunstein, Lan Samantha Chang, Rivka Galchen, Aryn Kyle, Rebecca Lee, Dana Levin, ZZ Packer, Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts, Tracy K. Smith, Mary Syzbist, and Tiphanie Yanique.

The recipients are nominated by writers, editors, publishers, academics, and other literary professionals, and chosen by a committee of judges selected by the Rona Jaffe Foundation. To learn more about the history and growth of the awards, read the Q&A with Beth McCabe, director of the program, in the September/October issue of Poets & Writers Magazine.

Photo: Rona Jaffe

Alice Lovelace is a cultural worker, poet, playwright, and performer. She is coeditor of “Art Changes” at In Motion Magazine, an online journal dedicated to issues of democracy. Lovelace earned her MA in Conflict Resolution at Antioch University’s McGregor School. Her focus is on community art as a form of mediation. In 2011, Lovelace and visual artist Lisa Tuttle collaborated on “Harriet Rising,” commissioned by the City of Atlanta Office of Cultural Affairs Public Art Program and Underground Atlanta, for its four-month long exhibit, Elevate: Art Above Underground in Atlanta, Georgia. The installation remained at Underground Atlanta for one year, and was named one of the fifty best public art projects in the nation by Americans for the Arts’ 2012 Public Art Network Year in Review. 

“Harriet Rising” was born in 2011 when visual artist Lisa Tuttle asked me out for lunch and we discussed the possibility of an artistic collaboration. That was the year the country began reflecting on the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.

The art would be on display at the Underground Atlanta, a shopping and entertainment district in downtown Atlanta. Lisa and I joined our interests in community-built art, envisioning the project as an opportunity to educate the public about universal social conditions faced by women and girls, and the organizations women have built in resistance.

The focus on Harriet Tubman was the perfect choice. Her contributions to the war effort are seldom mentioned or taught. We often see paintings or photos of Tubman as an elderly woman, but she was in her late twenties to early thirties when she brought over three hundred people out of the South, up the Ohio River to freedom via the Underground Railroad.

Years later, during the Civil War, she was commissioned by President Lincoln as spy and strategist for the Union Army. She also served as a nurse to black soldiers, while challenging the President and Congress over the issue of equal pay for equal service and sacrifice. In the 1863 Campaign on the Combahee, she helped over seven hundred slaves escape plantations along the river in South Carolina.

“Harriet Rising” was commissioned by the City of Atlanta and Underground Atlanta, as part of the exhibit, Elevate: Art Above Underground, which opened in October 2011. Lisa installed “Harriet Rising” onto eight four-sided columns in the heart of an Atlanta downtown hub. On the four sides of each column, we combined photography, poetry, historical and educational text, honoring the spirit and legacy of Harriet Tubman, the American hero.

The exhibit included oral histories of current women activists. One fall Sunday afternoon, women dressed in white arrived at the American Friends Service Committee Georgia Peace Center to tell me their stories, and to have Lisa photograph them. They were asked to wear white to signify their relationship to Harriet Tubman, who dreamed of being led to safety by a heavenly host of “ladies in white.” The women were members of 9to5 Atlanta, Atlanta Grandmothers for Peace, Georgia WAND, Refugee Women’s Network, SisterSong, Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective, Women Watch Afrika, Inc., Tapestri, Inc., and the Toni Cade Bambara Writers/Scholars/Activists Collective.


Funding from Poets & Writers for our Readings & Workshops program allowed us to include some of the most dynamic poets from the local slam scene. I was joined for onsite readings by Theresa Davis, Mariangela Manu Mihai, April 'Ap' Smith, Chauncey Beaty, and M. Ayodele Heath, along with singer/activist Monica Simpson. Three times we called, and the community gathered around Harriet’s columns. The crowds grew. We had repeat visitors and earned the attention of those standing in nearby businesses.

Working with Lisa Tuttle and the community of women organizers was a dream come true for a poet/cultural worker like me—I was able to play a major role in a popular public art exhibit and to bring the voices of over thirty women into the public arena. I can’t wait to do it again!

Photos: (top) Alice Lovelace at US Social Forum. Photo Credit: Nic Paget Clarke. (bottom) Harriet Rising Book Cover. Photo Credit: Lisa Tuttle.

Support for Readings & Workshops events in Atlanta is provided by an endowment established with generous contributions from the Poets & Writers Board of Directors and others. Additional support comes from  the Friends of Poets & Writers.

It may be a drag to be the bearer of bad news, but consider the recipient. Would you want to learn that your significant other is ending the relationship through words on a tiny screen? Sometimes we can't connect in person and we must rely on phone calls, texts, or e-mails to communicate difficult news. But what if you could recruit a messenger, a total stranger, to deliver your message for you? How would that alter the message? Write about a message you wish could be delivered by a stranger. For inspiration, watch filmmaker Miranda July's performance piece involving the new mobile app, Somebody.

As everyone recovers from, and reacts to, the shocking announcement that the popular cartoon character Hello Kitty is not a cat but a human girl, take a moment to think about how leaving certain details ambiguous could enhance or detract from a character's impact in a story. Do you have any characters that have elements of their backstory, or ambiguous qualities, that are never explained? If you have a character whom you feel is hiding something for whatever reason, write a scene in which this secret is revealed.

This week write a poem that sets out to explain an item, idea, or process. Begin the title with "How..." or "Three Reasons Why..." or some other phrase that introduces what is about to be explained. Maybe you will pick apart a particular habit you have, or analyze a fear that seems illogical. Don't feel obliged to reach a concrete conclusion. Instead, see where the thought pattern takes you. Is this poem really about why you think bunk beds are unsafe, or does it begin to address something else?

<< first < previous Page: 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 next > last >>

91 - 105 of 1603 results

Subscribe to P&W Magazine | Donate Now | Advertise | Sign up for E-Newsletter | Help | About Us | Contact Us | View Mobile Site

© Copyright Poets & Writers 2014. All Rights Reserved