Next month, Norton will publish Stephen Dunn’s thirteenth book of poetry, The Insistence of Beauty, his second offering since his Different Hours won the 2001 Pulitzer Prize. In a writing career that has spanned three decades, Dunn has also been honored with the Academy Award for Literature from the American Academy of Arts & Letters, the James Wright Prize from the Mid-American Review, and the Levinson Award from Poetry magazine, as well as fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, and the Guggenheim Foundation. He divides his time between Frostburg, Maryland, and Pomona, New Jersey, where he teaches creative writing at Richard Stockton College.
Article Archive: Direct Quote
Articles from Poet & Writers Magazine include material from the print edition plus exclusive online-only material.
Richard Howard is rarely at a loss for words. The poet, essayist, translator, editor, and professor is a tireless conversationalist who is always willing to supply a strong opinion on the many subjects to which he has applied his talents during a career that spans four decades.
In his introduction to The Anchor Book of New American Short Stories, editor Ben Marcus writers, "If we are made by what we read, if language truly builds people into what they are, how they think, the depth with which they feel, then these stories are, to me, premium material for that construction project. You could build a civilization with them." The 473-page anthology includes stories by George Saunders, David Foster Wallace, Anthony Doerr, Jhumpa Lahiri, Anne Carson, Gary Lutz, and more than 20 others.
Ballantine Books recently published You Remind Me of Me, Dan Chaon's long awaited debut novel about a pregnant teenager who gives up her child for adoption in 1966. In a review in the New York Times Sunday Book Review, Sara Mosley wrote that the novel "more than fulfills the promise of his story collection Among the Missing, which was a finalist for a National Book Award in 2001." Chaon is also the author of Fitting Ends, originally published by Triquarterly Books in 1995. A revised edition of the short story collection was published by Ballantine last year. Chaon teaches at Oberlin College and lives with his wife and two sons in Cleveland, Ohio.
While the literary community tries to gauge the influence of academia on the state of contemporary fiction, Frederick Reiken, whose two critically acclaimed novels have been translated into several languages, is gently riding out the wave of debate. A graduate of Princeton and the University of California at Irvine's MFA program, Reiken teaches writing in the graduate program at Emerson College. His first novel, The Odd Sea (Harcourt, 1998), won the Hackney Literary Award for First Fiction and was selected by both Booklist and Library Journal as one of the best first novels of the year. This was followed by a more ambitious novel, The Lost Legends of New Jersey (Harcourt, 2000), which became a bestseller and is described by Charles Baxter as "a miraculous balancing of tone and theme."
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.
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.
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.
Poet Susan Atefat-Peckham and her six-year-old son were killed in a car accident in Ghor Safi, Jordan, on February 7, 2004. A professor in the MFA program at Georgia College & State University, Atefat-Peckham was in the Middle East as a Fulbright scholar teaching creative writing at the University of Jordan. She was 33. The following Direct Quote was originally posted on October 12, 2001, following the publication of her book That Kind of Sleep.
In November, Farrar, Straus and Giroux will publish August Kleinzahler's eleventh book of poetry, The Strange Hours Travelers Keep. A loner and a traveler himself, Kleinzahler has avoided the cloistered life of academia for stints as a logger in British Columbia, a political commentator in Germany and, most recently, a music columnist for the San Diego Weekly Reader.
Mark Doty's work has always straddled the line between a sense of belonging and alienation, so it's no surprise to find the crucial question, Where do I live? at the heart of his forthcoming book
The ninth novel and eighteenth book by Harry Mark Petrakis, who turns 80 on June 5, will be published by Southern Illinois University Press in the same month. Twilight of the Ice is set in the Chicago railyards, in the blue-collar, industrial neighborhoods of the early 1950s. In this elegy to a rough crew of railroad car icemen facing obsolescence in the advent of modern refrigeration, the Chicago author who was twice shortlisted for the National Book Award again finds nobility in the struggles of immigrants and working people.
Colum McCann's most recent novel, Dancer, published by Henry Holt in January, reimagines the life and the international milieu surrounding the Russian ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev, who died in 1993.
In 1995 Brian Henry joined forces with Andrew Zawacki to resurrect Verse magazine. In 2000 he elicited the help of Matthew Zapruder and co-founded Verse Press. Along the way Henry, an assistant professor of English and director of the creative writing program at the University of Georgia, established a broad international reputation, both for his editorial and critical efforts, and for his sizable creative output.
Less than a year after his third novel, The Corrections, was awarded the National Book Award for fiction, Jonathan Franzen is back with a new collection of nonfiction.
Don DeLillo is the author of twelve novels, including White Noise, Libra, Underworld, Mao II, and most recently, The Body Artist. He has won the National Book Award, the PEN/Faulkner Award for fiction, the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Award, and the Jerusalem Prize. He was born in 1936 and grew up in the Bronx.
Poet and editor Dave Smith will resign in July from The Southern Review, the literary journal based at Louisiana State University that he has been co-editing since 1990. Smith, who turns 60 in December, will leave Baton Rouge and the literary post of his hero, the poet Robert Penn Warren who started the journal, for a Chair in Poetry at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. The move will allow him to remain in the South, his home and the inspiration for much of his work.
Lorine Niedecker: Collected Works, edited by Jenny Penberthy, a professor of English at Capilano College in Vancouver, was published in April by the University of California Press. The collection presents all of her surviving poetry and plays.
Claudia Keelan was born in 1959 in Anaheim, California. She is the author of three books of poetry, Refinery (Cleveland State University (1994), The Secularist (University of Georgia, 1997), and Utopic (Alice James, 2000). A graduate of the University of Iowa Writers Workshop, Keelan directs the MFA program at the University of Nevada Las Vegas.
The appearance of Karen Volkman's first book of poems, Crash's Law, selected for the National Poetry Series in 1995 and published by Norton the following year, signaled the arrival of a startling and canorous voice in American poetry. In the introduction to the book, series judge Heather McHugh called Volkman "an analyst of love," and remarked that the book "bespeaks a mind attuned no less to the accidents than to the orders of a sensual life."
Donald Revell grew up in the Bronx, New York. He received his Ph.D. from SUNY-Buffalo, and splits his time between Nevada and Utah, where he is Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Utah. Wesleyan University Press published Revell's seventh book of poems, Arcady, in February. Written as a response to the death of his sister and only sibling, Roberta, in 1995, Arcady draws its vision from the well of Arcadia—the utopic Greek realm described as paradise by Virgil, painted by Poussin, scored by Charles Ives, and contemplated by Thoreau.
Laura Mullen was born in Los Angeles in 1958. She received her MFA from the Iowa Writers Workshop and currently teaches at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. She is the author of The Surface (University of Illinois, 1991) and After I Was Dead (University of Georgia, 1999). Her writing has won many awards including a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Wyatt Mason's Rimbaud Complete, published by Modern Library in March, is a translation of the complete writings of French poet Arthur Rimbaud (1854-1891). The book contains all of his poetry—from his earliest juvenilia to his later poems, which Rimbaud wrote in his early twenties, before he stopped writing poems altogether. The volume contains fifty pages of previously untranslated material, including all the poet's earliest verse, a school notebook, and a rough draft of his best known poem A Season In Hell.