January/February 2009

A conversation with four young literary agents on what they love, what they hate, and ten things writers should never ever do, plus a special feature on inspiration and our annual roundup of twelve debut poets.


Why We Write Now

by Staff
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What drives us to write? Where do we find inspiration? And how do we stay focused during these unpredictable times? Five masterly authors weigh in on these questions and more. Their insights, we hope, will help strengthen our collective resolve as...

First and Foremost

by Kevin Larimer
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We present our fourth annual roundup of debut poets who put their best work forward in the past year. 

News and Trends

Balancing the Books

by Kevin Nance

As the crisis on Wall Street trickles down to Main Street, businesses of all kinds are responding to the gloomy economic climate with a variety of belt-tightening measures. Independent literary publishers are among the smaller, more vulnerable operations that are reacting to real and projected downturns in orders, sales, and, in the case of nonprofit houses, philanthropic giving.

Google Gets Generous, Settles Suit

by Kevin Canfield

It took three years, but the Association of American Publishers (AAP), the Authors Guild, and Google finally resolved a highly publicized dispute about copyright and intellectual property law by agreeing on a $125 million out-of-court settlement that would seem to benefit all parties involved.


For Writers, the Doctor’s Definitely In

by Andrea Crawford

The literary lineage of those who pursue medicine and also write is long and well known, with Anton Chekhov, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, William Carlos Williams, Mikhail Bulgakov, John Keats, and W. Somerset Maugham as standouts through history. But even among contemporary writers of fiction, doctors continue to hold their own.


Literary MagNet

by Kevin Larimer

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 Farmhouse Magazine, the Atlanta Review, Tin House, theVirginia Quarterly Review, Poems Against War, and Poets Against War.

Page One: Where New and Noteworthy Books Begin

by Staff

With so many good books being published every month, some literary titles worth exploring can get lost in the stacks. Page One offers the first lines of a dozen recently released books, including Stephanie Kallos's Sing Them Home and Kyle Beachy's The Slide as the starting point for a closer look at these new and noteworthy titles.


Q&A: Dan Chiasson Chooses Carefully

by Sarah Weinman

Dan Chiasson, who last fall succeeded former poet laureate Charles Simic as a poetry editor of the Paris Review, recently spoke—by phone from a New York City taxicab—about his new role at the venerable journal.

The Written Image: Richard Baker

by Staff

As more readers choose a nifty gadget like the Amazon Kindle over a hefty new hardcover, or a flashy iPhone application such as Stanza over the soft dog-ears of a well-worn paperback, those who still appreciate objects made solely of paper, ink, and glue will likely respond to the work of forty-nine-year-old painter Richard Baker.

The Practical Writer

The Case for Contests: Why Emerging Writers Should Submit

by Jacob M. Appel
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A frequent contest entrant—and winner—discusses the advantages of submitting to writers contests and offers tips for assessing a contest's legitimacy and value. 

First Thought, Worst Thought: Poetry Exercises That Inspire

by Kim Addonizio
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Poet Kim Addonizio offers a roundup of writing exercises to feed the creative process.

A Writer's Green Guide: How to Work for the Environment

by Nathalie Hardy
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Tips and resources for writers to reduce their impact on the environment.

Bullseye: How to Submit to Slice Magazine

by Staff
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A concise guide to submitting poetry, fiction, and nonfiction to Slice Magazine.

The Literary Life

Finding Beverly: One Writer's Unexpected Afterlife

by J. M. Tyree
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The story of Beverly Jensen, an author who died before receiving any attention for her work, prompts one writer to consider why we write and why some of us choose not to seek publication at all.

On Not Writing: And What, Exactly, It Means

by Gabriel Cohen
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A novelist examines the challenge writers often face of not being able to write.

Rewriting Anna Karenina: The Classics Never Go Out of Style

by Irina Reyn
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A debut novelist explores the impulse she shares with other writers to use the classics as road maps for crafting their own books.

Crazy With Song: Discovering Story in Southern Sudan

by Brandi Reissenweber
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A writer discovers the deep roots of oral storytelling in the Dinka culture of Sudan.