Vivian Gornick’s First Time

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“The life we lead as writers is awful—it’s boring, tedious, lonely,” says Vivian Gornick. “But when it’s working, there’s nothing in the world that compares.” In this installment of the Paris Review’s “My First Time” series, Gornick discusses the experience of writing and publishing her first book, In Search of Ali Mahmoud: An American Woman in Egypt.

Rita Dove Reads Ingeborg Bachmann

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“Whatever comes to pass: the devastated world / sinks back into twilight,” reads Rita Dove from the poem “My Bird” by Ingeborg Bachmann, translated from the German by Mark Anderson, at her study in Charlottesville, Virginia in this installment of the Paris Review’s Poets on Couches series. Get more inspiration from a writing prompt based on this poem in The Time Is Now.

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Sheila Heti’s First Time

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“I really was thinking like I have to work harder than any other writer in the world. I just wanted so badly to figure this out, to figure out how to write.” In this installment of the Paris Review’s “My First Time,” Sheila Heti discusses writing her first book, The Middle Stories (McSweeney’s, 2001), and how she came to write short stories after quitting theater school.

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Monica Youn Reads “Dawn” by Federico García Lorca

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“Dawn in New York has / four columns of mire / and a hurricane of black pigeons / splashing in the putrid waters.” In this installment of the Paris Review’s Poets on Couches video series, Monica Youn reads and discusses “Dawn,” a poem by Federico García Lorca, translated by Greg Simon and Steven L. White.

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Poets in Space: Jericho Brown

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“We thought / Fingers in dirt meant it was our dirt, learning / Names in heat, in elements classical / Philosophers said could change us.” In this Paris Review video, Jericho Brown reads two poems from his most recent collection, The Tradition (Copper Canyon Press, 2019), for which he received the 2020 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry. Filmed in 2019 in the woods of Decatur, Georgia, “Poets in Space” was directed and produced by Daniel Grossman and Sean Webley in collaboration with the poet Malachi Black.

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Maya C. Popa Reads Lisel Mueller

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“Doctor, you say there are no haloes / around the streetlights in Paris / and what I see is an aberration / caused by old age, an affliction.” For the Paris Review’s “Poets on Couches” video series, Maya C. Popa reads Lisel Mueller’s “Monet Refuses the Operation” and speaks about how the poem brings her comfort.

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Posthumous Seduction

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“The orchard grew excellent, // Good mass of apples assembling, one angel burned, looped / On the wire fence, in a bowl of gold most satisfactory.” Stephanie Burt reads Lucie Brock-Broido’s poem “Posthumous Seduction,” which first appeared in the Summer 2012 issue of Paris Review, for the new Poets on Couches series where poets read and discuss favorite poems that get them through during difficult times.

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Jeffrey Eugenides’s First Time

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“Each book that you write, you swim a long way from the pier at a certain point. You just don’t know what’s going to happen.... If you keep going, you’ll figure out how to shape the thing.” Jeffrey Eugenides recalls his experience writing his first book, The Virgin Suicides (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1993), for the Paris Review’s “My First Time” video series. Eugenides’s first story collection, Fresh Complaint (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2017), is featured in Page One in the November/December issue of Poets & Writers Magazine

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Nathaniel Mackey and Cathy Park Hong

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"Reading and writing allows us to be empathic. And without empathy, I think, our society would be at a total loss. I think in that way, writing can affect great change." Poets Nathaniel Mackey and Cathy Park Hong answer questions from New York City high school students about writing and inspiration at a live Writers at Work event hosted by 92nd Street Y with the Paris Review.

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