For nearly two years, WordTech Communications was one of the growing number of small presses using the contest model in which entry fees fund prize monies as well as the publication and promotion of winning books. Some would even say the Cincinnati-based press was gung ho about it, holding a different poetry contest every month. But in June, WordTech announced it was discontinuing its contest program and replacing it with an open-submissions policy, stating that there was more money to be made without contests.
Articles from Poet & Writers Magazine include material from the print edition plus exclusive online-only material.
Vladimir Nabokov once wrote, “Does there not exist a high ridge where the mountainside of ‘scientific’ information joins the opposite slope of ‘artistic’ imagination?” This was, of course, a rhetorical question, but Nabokov’s own life proved that this connection indeed exists. A dedicated lepidopterist (one who studies moths and butterflies), Nabokov not only held a post at the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University, he also wrote Lolita, a classic of 20th-century literature. I was recently reminded of Nabokov’s butterflies in, of all places, a dead man’s apartment in Boston.
A recent headline in the New York Times Book Review declared, “Books Make You a Boring Person.” Many would disagree with that statement, but few would go as far as the folks in the marketing department at Penguin UK. The London-based arm of the venerable publishing house has begun to advertise its books as dating aids. According to Penguin, you’re not good looking—or Good Booking—unless you’re holding a book.
Small Press Points highlights the happenings of the small press players. This issue features Future Tense Books, Manic D Press, Akashic Books, Nightboat Books, and Autumn House Press.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.