Poets & Writers Magazine welcomes letters from its readers. Please post a comment on select articles at www.pw.org/magazine, e-mail editor@pw.org, or write to Editor, Poets & Writers Magazine, 90 Broad Street, Suite 2100, New York, NY 10004. Letters accepted for publication may be edited for clarity and length.

Inspiration Strikes
The January/February 2014 issue of Poets & Writers Magazine is inspiration at its best, beginning with the editor’s note, “The Material of Creativity.” I’ve thought many times about the stunning first paragraph introducing the issue’s collection of “mundane objects” capable of prompting associative leaps and causing the reader to be propelled “forward across untrampled psychological and emotional terrain.” Thank you for these poignant insights.
Debbie Hemley
Boston, Massachusetts

Hats off for the January/February 2014 issue. I read it cover to cover and found practical information and creative inspiration on every page. I was especially pleased to see that the issue was bookended by two Arizonans, Alberto Ríos and Denise Uyehara; and Richard Smolev’s “Why We Write: Life Seems Inconceivably Rich” clearly states the writing truth. Perhaps you might keep an eye out for more contributions from elders who can put their hard-earned wisdom into perfect words. There are a lot of us geezers out here trying.
Merrill Collett
Tucson, Arizona

Nothing Undulating
I very much enjoyed Beth Ann Fennelly’s “Writing the Sex Scene: Nothing Throbbing, Nothing Turgid” (January/February 2014) for its sense of humor, but I was disappointed that Fennelly did not mention gay sex scenes—something I was looking to gain insight into for my own novel in progress featuring lesbian protagonists. Euphemisms for penis are of little concern to me, but I do know I will avoid the phrase “undulating hips,” common in sex scenes between women. Despite Fennelly’s heterosexual focus, it was fun to learn about the Literary Review’s Bad Sex in Fiction Award and its recipients, an award I hope not to be “honored” with, even if I needn’t worry about using the phrase “turgid member.”
Yvonne Zipter

Chicago, Illinois

How to Make an Impression
I loved reading about how Michael Gustafson and Hilary Lowe did their homework and then tackled the impossible in “How to Make a Life, Maybe Even a Living: Opening an Independent Bookstore,” by Jeremiah Chamberlin (January/February 2014). It shows how having the right idea and the savvy to carry it through, plus a good dose of optimism and passion, can trump the issues that inevitably arise. I plan on visiting Literati Bookstore when my son begins studies at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
Excerpted from a comment posted on pw.org by MorseDKM

Self-publishing Success
I thoroughly enjoyed “The Power of Self-Publishing: A Special Section on the Rise of the Independent Author” (November/December 2013). Five years ago I had just finished the first draft of my memoir, Dear Marcus: A Letter to the Man Who Shot Me. Realizing that the odds of winning the lottery were better than those of my book being picked up by a publisher, I decided to gamble everything I had on self-publishing through iUniverse. I knew that the chances of success were minimal, but at the end of the day I wanted to know that I gave it my all. After nearly two years, my memoir was discovered by an editor at Random House, catapulting me to the big show. I’m still amazed it happened to me, but I’m considering doing it again for my first novel. Sometimes lightning strikes twice.
Jerry McGill

Portland, Oregon