January/February 2014

Our Inspiration Issue features a special section celebrating the creative power and limitless capacity of every writer to make the essential connection; plus our ninth annual look at some of the year's best debut poets, an in-depth interview with agent David Gernert, a craft essay on writing the sex scene, a practical look at opening a new independent bookstore, and more.


Special Section

No Ideas but in Things: The Importance of First Objects

by Elizabeth Kostova
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Channeling some of our earliest memories, and specifically the physical objects that often exist at the center of such recollections, can prove to be a productive writing exercise—and might just open the floodgates to inspiration. 

Pedestrian Adventures: Walking to Inspiration

by Celia Johnson
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A number of writers—including Dickens, Thoreau, Woolf, and Wordsworth, to name a few—have turned to walking for inspiration. This essay explores the myriad benefits that ambulatory excercise can have on the creative life. 

Urban Tumbleweed: Perambulatory Poetry

by Harryette Mullen
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Poet Harryette Mullen explains how daily walks inspired her most recent collection, Urban Tumbleweed: Notes From a Tanka Diary (Graywolf Press, 2013), and shares a selection of poems from the book. 

Rethinking Restriction: Creative Limitation as a Positive Force

by M. Allen Cunningham
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While writers often express the need for fewer restrictions in their writing lives, one author argues that implementing limitations may actually lead to surprising—and productive—results.

What It Takes: The Messy, Beautiful Business of Being a Writer Parent.

by Jamie Quatro
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In a deeply personal chronicle that spans nearly twenty years, one writer grapples with the struggles, strangleholds, and immeasurable inspirations of being a writer parent.

Breaking Through the Noise: Our Ninth Annual Look at Debut Poets

by Victoria Chang
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For this year's annual debut poetry roundup, we highlight ten emerging poets whose first full-length collections made an inspiring splash in 2013. 

News and Trends

Late December's New Beginning

by Kevin Nance

After nearly three decades defunct, December magazine, a journal founded in 1958 that published early work by some of the country's literary greats, makes its revival.

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 Chang-Rae Lee's On Such a Full Sea and Olga Grjasnowa's All Russians Love Birch Trees, as the starting point for a closer look at these new and noteworthy titles.

Literary MagNet

by Travis Kurowski

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 1913: A Journal of Forms, Miramar, the Intentional Quarterly, Gigantic Sequins, and China Grove.

Small Press Points

by Staff

Small Press Points highlights the innovation and can-do spirit of independent presses. This issue features YesYes Books, a new poetry press that is paving the way for new forms of multimedia publishing.

Q&A: Ríos Named Arizona Poet Laureate

by Norah Booth

This month poet Alberto Ríos, author most recently of the collection The Dangerous Shirt (Copper Canyon Press, 2009), will be sworn in as the first poet laureate of Arizona.

The Practical Writer

The Literary Life

Writing the Sex Scene: Nothing Throbbing, Nothing Turgid

by Beth Ann Fennelly
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One of the most difficult scenes to write in fiction—and as such, one that gets tackled less and less—is the sex scene. Beth Ann Fennelly, a poet who recently cowrote her first novel with her husband, gets down and dirty to find out why.

Modulation in the Moment: Striking a Narrative Balance

by Benjamin Percy
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Mastering the art of modulation—the ebb and flow of suspense, action, and meditation—can be the key to writing a truly great story.

Why We Write: Life Seems Inconceivably Rich

by Richard Smolev
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Diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's disease more than two years ago, an author considers the many inspirations that have kept him writing in the face of tremendous challenge.