January/February 2020

In the Inspiration Issue we present our fifteenth annual roundup of the year’s best debut poets; artist Diane Samuels turns famous works of literature inside out; Sarah Ruhl demystifies writer’s block; Grant Faulkner finds new ways of seeing rejection; Michael Bourne reveals the quiet power of literary agent assistants; and author and indie publisher Kelly Link discusses her return to bookselling; plus writing prompts, contest deadlines, and more.

Special Section

Word by Word: Reflecting on Fifteen Years of Debut Poets

by Staff
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Our favorite quotes from past debut poets on community, rejection, writing after the debut, and more.

Open the Book

by Dara Meyers-Kingsley

Artist Diane Samuels turns works of literature inside out in a dramatic process of creative rewriting that highlights the intimate relationship between writer and reader in a painstaking homage to the ultimate act of creativity: writing.


News and Trends

The Practical Writer

The Literary Life

The Time Is Now: Writing Prompts and Exercises

by Staff
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Write a poem inspired by extreme weather, a fiction piece in which the protagonist reevaluates the definition of home, and a lyric essay incorporating scenes written like a script.

Writer’s Block: Variations on a Superstition

by Sarah Ruhl
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The author examines thirteen common instances of writer’s block—or what she calls “the studious avoidance of writing”—and offers practical fixes for each.

Rejection’s Gift: Divine Dissatisfaction

by Grant Faulkner
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The executive director of National Novel Writing Month reflects on a quote from dancer Martha Graham, and how her acceptance of “divine dissatisfaction” can be applied to the writing life.