In the Inspiration Issue we present our nineteenth annual feature on ten of the year’s best debut poets; elemental insights from five accomplished writers on the alchemy of inspiration; an interview with the executive director of Kundiman, Cathy Linh Che; an essay on why ChatGPT will never capture the genius of lived experience; an author’s perspective of the work of publicity and marketing; plus writing prompts, publishing myths, contest deadlines, and more.
The Alchemy of Inspiration
Fire: Be the Revolution
The author of Thrust analyzes the origins of her passion for storytelling and challenges writers to discover what gives their stories urgency in a world that doesn’t always choose life and love over death and destruction.
Water: Stay Fluid
Just as water takes the shape of its container, writers should allow themselves to be shaped by influence—openness, curiosity, and humility are tools that help unlock the possibilities of learning and inspiration.
Air: Speak and Breathe
Renowned poet and author of Tanya reflects upon the indelible impact of war on her family history and air as a medium for sharing essential narratives of the past with the future.
Earth: Ground Yourself in Purpose
Some ideas just stick: Paying attention and being able to find patterns within what repeatedly inspires can help us find a way forward when self-doubt threatens to overwhelm.
Manifest Some Magic: Get Out of Your Own Way and Do the Darn Thing
It is easier to see the beauty in a finished project than to find pleasure in the process, but few things worth our effort are consistently easy. Push past the tedium and watch your writing grow.
Ten debut poets who published in 2023, including Ina Cariño and Shaina Phenix, share the inspiration, advice, and writers block remedies that form their individual poetics.
News and Trends
COVID-19 outbreaks continue to affect conference attendees and organizers alike; members of the literary community consider different ways event policies can realistically address public health needs.
The first lines of a dozen noteworthy books, including You Bury the Birds in My Pelvis by Kelly Weber and Irregular Heartbeats at the Park West by Russell Brakefield.
In a major victory for activists, particularly undocumented writers, a whole new group of people now have reason to be hopeful about their chances for the prestigious award.
No longer limited to static text on a page, poets are composing verse in the unique medium of an NFT, opening new creative, collaborative, and financial possibilities for work that defies categorization.
A nonprofit founded to strengthen the American South’s reputation as a home for great literature and art, April Gloaming publishes books that push limitations in medium and genre.
An introduction to four new anthologies, including Good Eats: 32 Writers on Eating Ethically and Raised by Wolves: Fifty Poets on Fifty Poems.
The debut essayist behind Holy American Burnout! introduces some of the journals that provided a thoughtful home for his work, including Lunch Ticket and Counterclock.
Inspired by the “Wanted” posters U.S. law enforcement officials used to locate fugitive outlaws, poet John Yau and visual artist Richard Hull hail under-appreciated artists such as Sessue Hayakawa and John D. Graham.
The executive director of Kundiman, a national nonprofit supporting Asian American authors, discusses the organization’s evolution over the past twenty years and shares her plans for working in solidarity with other communities of color.
The Practical Writer
Publishing Myths: “It’s Impossible to Sell a Story or Essay Collection”
In our column debunking the myths of the publishing industry, a veteran agent explains why selling a story or essay collection can be difficult (but not impossible) in today’s book market.
An Author’s View of Publicity and Marketing: What to Expect From the Promotion of Your Book
The author of The Apology demystifies book promotion for the uninitiated, offering writers advice on collaborating with the professionals who work to get the word out about their new book.
The Literary Life
The Time is Now: Writing Prompts and Exercises
Write a poem exploring the complexity of love, a short story that withholds the backstory of a character, or an essay considering a time in your life in which you wanted to become someone new.
Even though ChatGPT can replicate and regurgitate the texts it has consumed, it still lacks the unique inspiration that lived experience provides for writers. A teacher of creative writing puts the AI chatbot to the test.