Ah, springtime in New York City! That ineluctable smell! What is it, exactly? Curry and fish sauce, garbage, perfume, rotten eggs, fresh bread, urine, incense, stale tailpipe, shish kebab, body odor. (I am estimating.)
Article Archive: Postcard
Articles from Poet & Writers Magazine include material from the print edition plus exclusive online-only material.
This is the first installment in a series of Postcards written by Steve Almond and Julianna Baggott, coauthors of Which Brings Me to You (Algonquin Books, 2006), while on tour to promote their book.
On April 14 hundreds of scholars gathered in the Millennium Hall of the Loews Hotel in Philadelphia for the second day of the thirty-fourth annual meeting of the Shakespeare Association of America, a nonprofit, academic organization devoted to the study of William Shakespeare and his plays and poems.
On a frigid night in early March, a well-dressed crowd of around five hundred people piled into the New School’s Tishman Auditorium to witness the announcement of the winners of the National Book Critics Circle Awards. The membership organization of seven hundred critics and reviewers, founded in 1974, bestows awards annually for poetry, fiction, biography, general nonfiction, and criticism. This year, for the first time, autobiography (or memoir), was added as a separate category—an interesting distinction at a time when the controversy over the genre has dominated literary news.
The second annual Story Prize ceremony, held at the New School’s Tishman Auditorium in late January, began like most literary events in New York City—with much chattering among publishing folk, rising in volume until the lights went down and a hush descended on the room. The evening’s format was simple. The three finalists, fiction writers Jim Harrison, Maureen F. McHugh, and Patrick O’Keefe, would each read from their books and then sit for a short discussion with Larry Dark. In 2004 Dark, the former O. Henry Prize Stories series editor, launched the prize with Julie Lindsey in an effort to promote a genre they believed was underrepresented by other literary awards. The winner of the first annual prize was Edwidge Danticat for The Dew Breaker (Knopf, 2004).
When I stepped off the plane in Aspen, Colorado, in June 1997, I found a 60-year-old Hunter S. Thompson waiting for me in a convertible Cadillac blasting Norman Greenbaum’s “Spirit in the Sky” at full volume. I was terrified; he was giddy. He was playing the song because it was a part of the soundtrack put together for the film version of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas that was scheduled to hit theaters the following summer, and he could not have been happier.
Like most poets, Henri Cole is “against the war” and uncomfortable in large crowds. He pulls at his dark sleeves and looks around nervously, searching as if he might find someone he knows. He is the only man in the room wearing a cardigan sweater and not a suit jacket. He is the only man, save the president, wearing his Many Lamps lapel pin during cocktails.
Thanks in part to Stewart O’Nan, whose essay, “The Lost World of Richard Yates,” appeared in the October/November 1999 issue of the Boston Review, readers are enjoying a long-overdue critical re-appreciation of the author of Revolutionary Road and The Easter Parade, among a handful of other exquisitely written books.
D.H. Lawrence returned to Italy in 1927 after a soul-searching journey through Mexico, the American Southwest, Ceylon, Australia, and New Zealand. Gravely ill with tuberculosis, unaware of how little time he had left (he died three years later at the age of 44), Lawrence sought an ideal land where he might flourish as a "whole man alive" and find an antidote for the alienation of industrialized society.
In the last decade programs in Translation Studies, designed to train students in the theory and practice of literary translation, have flourished in American and European universities. Still, translators remain concerned about the future of their profession, fearing it will be undermined by a number of serious threats: English as a global language, computer translation, and the reluctance of publishers, at least in the English-speaking world, to take on the costs of publishing translations.
Witnesses looked on in anguish as the murky flood waters of the Vltava River surged over Prague, one of the world’s greatest literary cities-home of Kafka, Kundera, Hrabal, and Havel.
The 16th annual Paris Writers Workshop wrapped up on July 5 after a week-long schedule of workshops, lectures, readings, and walking tours.
W. S. Merwin made his first appearance at the Village Voice bookstore on May 27, the same evening a hailstorm hit Paris. Merwin is the author of 20 books of poems, four books of prose, and nearly 20 books of translations, including one of the Middle English Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, which is scheduled for publication in October by Knopf.
On February 2, over 170 writers, editors, agents, and publishers from five continents attended a two-day writers conference in Geneva, Switzerland—an intensive weekend of workshops, readings, panel discussions, and networking.
“I am annoyed when I’m reading through the 16th century and come across underwear that did not exist,” said Margaret Atwood, who explained to a standing-room-only crowd at the Village Voice bookstore in Paris why she’s a stickler for historical accuracy in her work.
Approximately two hundred editors, writers, and readers of small literary magazines published in the Bay Area gathered at the Black Box, a trendy Oakland theater art gallery on Sunday, November 18, for the Small Press Soiree. Dulcey Antonucci, the editor of Area i, a literary magazine that takes its name from the parking designation for residents of downtown Berkeley, collaborated with local editors to plan the evening in an effort to introduce the audience to new publications.
The term “creative communities” often evokes sequestered environments at far-flung artists’ colonies or graduate school MFA programs. This traditional notion was challenged, expanded, redefined, and reinvented during "The Future of Creativity" symposium in Chicago.
On the evening of October 29, more than seventy-five people crammed into The Red Wheelbarrow, a newly opened Anglophone bookshop, to inaugurate a reading series and celebrate two literary magazines: Upstairs at Duroc, published at the Anglo cultural center WICE, and Pharos, edited collectively by poet Alice Notley’s workshop at the British Institute in Paris. The enthusiastic crowd spilled onto the cobblestone street, smoking cigarettes and craning their necks for a view of the proceedings.
“We can’t say it’s the end of irony,” said poet Carolyn Kizer, in light of the terrorist attacks on September 11. “It’s the beginning. But irony is seldom appreciated by American culture.”