Make Your Mark
There have been more than a few occasions during the fifteen years I’ve been working on this magazine when we tried to get an interview with Louise Glück. During that time she has published five books, received a number of prestigious prizes, served as judge of a highly esteemed award series, and even been appointed to an official government position—each achievement offering a sharp hook on which to hang a story. There was only one problem: She wanted nothing to do with it. In fact, she doesn’t even like the word interview. This time around, after much discussion, she finally acquiesced, and I strongly suspect it’s because the writer I chose for the assignment, novelist William Giraldi, took such care in his preparation and approach. The result (page 42) is one of the most intelligent, insightful conversations—with one of the best, most thoughtful poets in the country—we’ve ever published.
Speaking of major American poets and intelligent conversation, this issue also includes a talk with Edward Hirsch (50). Here is a man who seemingly never utters a careless word; every time the poet and peerless advocate of poetry opens his mouth, he says something worth remembering. In June he participated in a panel discussion, “Why We Write,” which I moderated at Poets & Writers Live (224) in New York City, and his words remain in my mind: “I think people become addicted to writing poetry, become addicted to the idea that you want to leave something behind,” he said. “You want to leave a trace, you want to make a mark, you want to say what it felt like to be here.” The occasion of Kevin Nance’s dialogue with Hirsch is the publication of Gabriel, a book-length elegy for his son, who passed away in 2011. It’s a devastating book, heartbreaking in its grief and intensity, and I’m proud to share with you the poet’s voice and vision. It certainly does leave a mark.
If there is one thing that connects the writing in these pages—all of it, from the pieces mentioned above to our new column on self-publishing (73) to, yes, even the new listings of MFA programs (88)—it is the deep care and attention that went into creating it. Writing is vital; it’s important to more people than you can imagine. This and every issue of the magazine is meant to honor your commitment to the craft by offering information and articles that are helpful, provocative, and inspiring. I hope you enjoy it, along with every success in your writing.