A former writing teacher explores the best methods for encouraging new talent.
Article Archive: The Literary Life
Articles from Poet & Writers Magazine include material from the print edition plus exclusive online-only material.
How important is it for characters to be likeable? A look at a controversial question, and how literature’s darker actors can pose useful lessons about both the craft of writing and ourselves.
Writing through trauma isn’t always a healing experience. A poet and novelist investigates the complexities and challenges of writing with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Best-selling author Daniel Wallace (Big Fish) has been submitting short stories to the New Yorker for more than thirty years, and has yet to receive a letter of acceptance. What he did receive, however, was a surprising friendship...
For the author whose new novel, The Gypsy Moth Summer, is out now, it took over two decades of writing and rewriting the same scene from her childhood to fully understand—and make peace with—her past.
After the sudden death of his sister, an author shifts his focus from trying to write through grief to writing a book for the person he lost.
It took Joyce Maynard twenty-five years of reflection, distance, and understanding to write her first memoir. But when tragedy struck later in life, her second memoir came much more quickly.
A poet explains how allowing ourselves to write badly is not only generative, but can also break the habit of self-censorship and can lead to our best work.
Novelist Elizabeth Nunez discusses the historical and contemporary challenges that black writers face in the publishing industry, and urges publishers to address those challenges by publishing more diverse authors.
A poet, novelist, and memoirist investigates the experience of imposter syndrome—that insidious feeling of being a fraud—and poses the question, What would happen if writers stopped viewing their careers as a series of happy accidents?
A personal and in-depth look at the life and poetry of John Berryman, with particular focus on The Dream Songs.
A writer and workshop instructor grapples with what he sees as an increasing resistance toward the work of established authors among writing students.
In a continuing series examining the state of literature abroad, poets Amjad Etry and Hala Mohammad and filmmaker Muhammad Bayazid discuss the challenges that writers and artists face amidst ongoing political turmoil in Syria.
The strange and beautiful universe of Denis Johnson’s fiction is marked by the enduring appeal of his 1992 story collection, Jesus’ Son.
In the second installment of Where We Write, a fiction writer takes a trip back home to Hannibal, Missouri, the boyhood home of Mark Twain and the town that still inspires her work, long after she's moved away.
Novelist Eleanor Henderson discusses the beauty and necessity of backstory in fiction, offering a counterpoint to a previously published article in which novelist Benjamin Percy warned writers about the dangers of backstory.
Fiction writer Aaron Hamburger got more than he bargained for when he signed up for a class in food writing. Instead of simply learning about a new genre, he also learned some valuable lessons about the one he'd been practicing for years.
Character calls forth writer. Writer calls forth reader. It seems straightforward—but is it? Novelist, filmmaker, and Zen Buddhist priest Ruth Ozeki explores the relationships embedded in every novel and work of fiction.
Contributing editor Stephen Morison Jr. reports on the literary community in Cairo, Egypt, interviewing authors, publishers, and booksellers about the ongoing protests, freedom of speech, and the future of Egypt.
Fiction writer Benjamin Percy cautions beginning writers to avoid overusing backstory in their fiction, offering strategies for moving the story forward by slipping a character’s history into the dramatic present.
After navigating a devastating crisis, husband-and-wife poets Craig Morgan Teicher and Brenda Shaughnessy reflect on the fortifying powers of poetry and their commitment to their marriage and one another’s work.
After reading about one famed writer’s seemingly carefree existence, novelist Jesse Browner ruminates on his personal decision to forego the romanticized bohemian life and contemplates every writer’s choice to pursue the trade-offs writers face between artistic aspirations or financial security.
The Grub Street literary center has created a long-form fiction class that might offer a cure for the novel-writing anxiety that the traditionally story-centric MFA workshop isn’t equipped to resolve.
While caring for her dying grandmother, author Lisa Saffran gained new perspective on the richness of life in language as well as a renewed perseverance as a creative writer.
A look at the psychology of writers block and how scientific studies in creativity offer insight into how writers can use the tools they already have to break through.