January/February 2011

A special section on inspiration—the unpredictable engine of ideas inside every creative writer—including our sixth annual debut poets roundup; plus, the bilingual imagination; why we write; artful author Web sites; and more.


Writers and Their Obsessions: A Field Guide to the Curious Mind

by Jean Hartig
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From a novelist sparked by theoretical science to a poet investigating sound and silence, five writers share the obsessions that fuel their work.

The Greatest Mystery: Where Writers' Ideas Come From

by Kevin Nance
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Whether it’s from random conversations, direct observation, life experience, or historical research, writers find inspiration in myriad places. Gregory Orr, Marilyn Chin, Walter Kirn, Charles Baxter, and others weigh in on the subject.

The Beauty We Are Made Of: Our Sixth Annual Debut Poets Roundup

by Kevin Larimer
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It can take years to write a good book, and possibly longer to find a publisher. Twelve newly published poets share the stories of their books, sources of inspiration, and advice for writers on the verge.

News and Trends

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 Maxine Hong Kingston's I Love a Broad Margin to My Life and Michael McClure's Of Indigo and Saffron, as the starting point for a closer look at these new and noteworthy titles.

Small Press Points

by Staff

Small Press Points highlights the happenings of the small press players. This issue features Solid Objects, the New York City–based independent press that publishes "short, self-contained works that might not otherwise find their way into book form because of their length."

Literary MagNet

by Staff

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 ZYZZYVA, Cave WallAnnalemma, H.O.W. Journal, Assembly, and the Whitefish Review.

The Written Image: Poet on the Edge

by Staff

A pen-and-ink drawing and a typewritten letter by Charles Bukowski are two pieces among the documents and ephemera currently on view in Charles Bukowski: Poet on the Edge at the Huntington Library in San Marino, California.

The Practical Writer

The Online Book Launch: Self-Publishing Your Way to a Book Deal

by Cathie Beck
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One writer successfully landed a book contract by amping up the online launch of her self-published memoir.

Artful Author Web Sites: The New Book Jacket

by Joshua Bodwell
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When it comes to author Web sites, designer Jefferson Rabb is the business, and has made a name for himself by capturing in pixels the unique spirit of a writer's work.

Bullseye: How to Submit to Agriculture Reader

by Staff
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The editors of Agriculture Reader offer tips for submitting to their artist-designed, hand-crafted journal.

The Literary Life

Why We Write: The Ham-and-Egger

by Jenny Shank
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Awaiting the hard-won publication of her first novel, one author makes a case for detaching from expectations and focusing on the gritty work of writing.

The Bilingual Imagination: Searching for the Real and the True

by Ana Menéndez
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Fiction writer Ana Menéndez’s early education in two languages—Spanish and English—became a wedge that opened her world to possibility, difference, and change.