Our annual Inspiration Issue features essays on the origins of storytelling, historical fiction as an invitation to wonder, the challenges of facing difficult material on the page, taking risks in creative nonfiction, and our eleventh annual look at the year’s best debut poets; plus writing prompts for the new year, daring to discover your dangerous writing, the art of biography, questioning self-promotion, interviews with Kay Ryan and Saeed Jones, and more.
Fractures Through Time: Our Eleventh Annual Look at Debut Poets
Our eleventh annual Debut Poets roundup highlights ten of the most exciting and inspiring first books of poetry published in 2015.
A Beginning: The Origins of Storytelling
According to National Book Award winner Barry Lopez, storytelling is the most indispensable art. In an excerpt from his keynote speech at October’s Poets & Writers Live event in Portland, Oregon, Lopez gives us an answer to why we tell stories.
Project Empathy: Facing Difficult Material
An accomplished novelist and memoirist offers advice on how to write creative nonfiction with empathy and respect.
Sitting on Plutarch's Throne: Taking Risks in the Essay
An American writer and editor details the importance and emotional necessity of taking risks in the essay by way of an adventure to Greece to find Plutarch’s writing chair.
The Missing Locket: An Invitation to Wonder
When writing historical fiction, the novelist must become an archaeologist—combining research and imagination to excavate relics of the past, confront ghosts, and make old stories new again.
Futuristic Writing Desk: A Special Form of History
Recounting a harrowing trek up Texas’s Enchanted Rock with his wife, a writer details the particularly difficult task of placing yourself in time, and then learning to let time go.
The Aha! Moment: Poet Kay Ryan
Poet Kay Ryan discusses her poem “Tree Heart/True Heart,” which she wrote following the death of her partner, Carol Adair, in early 2009—and how a scientific discovery led her to withdraw the poem from her latest collection, Erratic Facts (...
News and Trends
Page One: Where New and Noteworthy Books Begin
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 Sunil Yapa’s debut novel, Your Heart Is a Muscle the Size of a Fist and Mira Ptacin’s debut memoir, Poor Your Soul, as the starting point for a closer look at these new and noteworthy titles.
With an app, a website, and a fleet of rotary-style pay phones, the new interactive project Call Me Ishmael allows readers and book lovers to call the fabled sailor and leave him personal messages about their favorite books.
Small Press Points: Forest Avenue Press
Small Press Points highlights the innovation and can-do spirit of independent presses. This issue features the Portland, Oregon–based Forest Avenue Press, a boutique house that publishes just three titles per year, all focusing on “a desire to investigate a subject and to bear witness.”
AAWW Continues the Conversation
The Asian American Writers Workshop rings in its twenty-fifth year at the forefront of the movement to diversify the publishing industry, and to provide advocacy, education, opportunity, and visibility to Asian American poets and writers.
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 the Freeman’s, Verse, Masters Review, and Ploughshares.
Q&A: Saeed Jones Feeds the Buzz
BuzzFeed’s newly minted executive editor of culture discusses his new position at the media company, and his goals for the recently launched BuzzFeed Emerging Writers Fellowship.
The Written Image: Visualization of Narrative Structure
In their analysis of three classic texts, two UC Berkeley Neuroscience PhD candidates created an interactive visualization of the emotional relationships between each book’s cast of characters.
The Practical Writer
Reviewers & Critics: Michael Schaub
The latest installment of Reviewers & Critics features Michael Schaub, an incisive—and hilarious—literary critic and former Bookslut contributor.
Brand You: Questioning Self-Promotion
A writer considers the art, discomfort, and necessity of self-promotion, as well as its evolution in the digital age.
The Literary Life
Teeth Marks: The Translator's Dilemma
A Nigerian-born author and professor provides an in-depth look at two versions of the same text, one in the original Yoruba, and an English translation by Nobel Prize–winning author and translator Wole Soyinka. In his comparison of the two, Obioma...
The Art of Biography: Falling In and Out of Love
An author and Guggenheim fellow details her journey in writing a biography of radical poet Lola Ridge.
Dangerous Writing: Go to Your Battlefield
“By forcing the writer to look at an event that changed her life, she has to come to terms with something that is intimate.” A prolific author and teacher explores the process of facing the deepest, heaviest, and saddest parts of ourselves in order...
The Time Is Now: Writing Prompts and Exercises
Experiment with myth, reinvent your relationships, and give love a bad name—three prompts to ignite the creative process.