For the past fourteen years, Hank Stuever, a two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist, has published his unique brand of creative nonfiction in the form of newspaper articles in the Albuquerque Tribune, Austin American-Statesman, and the Washington Post. The subjects of his articles—haunted waterbed stores, plastic lawn chairs, beauty pageants, and discount funeral homes among them—hardly seem fodder for probing essays on the American psyche. But what might fall into the realm of light comedy for many writers takes on a lyrical profundity in Stuever’s work.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Page One features a sample of titles we think you'll want to explore. With this installment, we offer excerpts from Invisible Bride by Tony Tost and Coin of the Realm by Carl Phillips.
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.
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.
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.
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.
As anyone who's been through an MFA program can tell you, translating peer critiques is an art in itself. For the workshop novice, here's a brief guide.
Some of the best ideas originate in the most unlikely places. For years, Brian Singer, a graphic designer in San Francisco, was fascinated by bathroom graffiti. The cryptic messages and drawings made him wonder what would happen if complete strangers around the world—and not only those who happened to share a public bathroom—were able to exchange their private thoughts. So four years ago he created the 1000 Journals Project, an ongoing experiment in collective journaling.
Next month millions of writers, scholars, and readers will take part in the centennial celebration of Bloomsday, attending readings, lectures, performances, exhibitions, film screenings, writing workshops, and other events planned in cities around the world.
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 can we have our ball back?, Portrait, Argosy, and DoubleTake.
Thirty-five years after the author's death, the original manuscript of Jack Kerouac's most popular novel and other Kerouac memorabilia are back on the road. Two traveling exhibits—one of which is already under way, the other about to begin—aim to bring the Beat generation's most indelible icon to the masses.
For some writers, community service comes naturally. But for those of us who are accustomed to guarding our precious writing time with our lives, the very thought of adding another activity—no matter how worthy—is daunting. We watch in awe as fellow writers teach, mentor, and travel to remote locations to give workshops to populations ranging from the incarcerated to the homeless to senior citizens. Why do they do it? How do they find the time and emotional energy? Is it possible to serve others without neglecting one's own work?
Page One features a sample of titles we think you'll want to explore. With this installment, we offer excerpts from Some Great Thing by Colin McAdam and You Remind Me of Me by Dan Chaon.