& Writers Magazine
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I started going to Women & Children First (“Inside Indie Bookstores: Women & Children First in Chicago” by Jeremiah Chamberlin, May/June 2010) when the store was located at Halsted and Armitage. I was newly “out” and very shy about going to the store or attracting any attention to myself, but I wanted to find books by lesbian writers, about lesbian characters. I made a point of spending a couple Saturdays a month there looking for new books, reading the ads on the bulletin board, and collecting the week’s newspapers that targeted the LGBT community. I loved seeing the growth of both the store and the inventory. Linda Bubon and Ann Christophersen should be commended for taking the risks they took so many years ago so that the LGBT and feminist community could be so well served.
Excerpted from a comment posted on pw.org/magazine by GAYLE TELLER
I am so excited about Benjamin Percy’s article “Home Improvement: Revision as Renovation” (May/June 2010). I had been wrestling with a story for longer than I care to admit, and after spending too much time polishing draft three (replacing periods with semicolons) and finally realizing that the first fifteen pages were all backstory, I completely gutted the thing, trimming thirty pages of story down to eleven. And, boy, was it exhilarating—I felt like I was finally breaking through. Fear that maybe I had cut too much crept into my mind, but Percy’s article removed the doubt, and while the story may still have its flaws, I am now certain its length is not one of them. I’ll think back to his article whenever I’m lacking the courage to truly revise.
Newport News, Virginia
Thanks for “First: Karl Marlantes’s Matterhorn” (May/June 2010), in which Eryn Loeb describes the collaboration between El León Literary Arts and Grove/Atlantic that brought about Marlantes’s novel. Here’s hoping those in the publishing industry will open their minds to many similar endeavors, especially in these tight financial times. A writer circulating a literary manuscript might be refused by a small press because of lack of resources and by a trade publisher because of commercial considerations—but together they could bring a project to fruition.
A BETTER BRIDGE
While I appreciated Kevin Nance’s fresh perspective on Scott Turow in the profile “Judge and Genre” (May/June 2010), I was surprised to find that Nance’s examples of literary authors who bridge the literary-popular divide included not a single woman or writer of color. What about Toni Morrison? Margaret Atwood? Ann Patchett? Zadie Smith? I hope that Poets & Writers Magazine remains alert to such narrow categorizations in the future.
Brooklyn, New York
READING DONNE'S DEVOTION
As a student and teacher of John Donne’s writings for forty years, I enjoyed how William Giraldi blended his personal crisis of melancholy with a reading of Donne (“The Art of Reading John Donne: Sick Genius of Remorse,” March/April 2010). He offered keen insight into the intense passion that infuses Donne’s early erotic poetry and his later religious poetry. However, Giraldi attributed intellectual and emotional confusion to Donne that I do not believe existed. Donne’s conversion from Catholicism to Anglicanism was not the major lifelong existential crisis that Giraldi experienced with his own loss of Catholic faith. Giraldi claims Donne “was, first and foremost, not a preacher…but a poet,” yet the volume of Donne’s religious poetry is dwarfed by his religious prose. Donne clearly channeled the bulk of his creative energy and imagination there. While I disagree in part with Giraldi’s biographical reading, I compliment him on a stirring piece of writing.
M. GARRETT BAUMAN
Nunda, New York