Poets & Writers Magazine welcomes letters from its readers. Please post a comment on select articles at www.pw.org/magazine, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.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.
This Beautiful Writer
I just finished reading the profile of Roxane Gay (“These Beautiful Contradictions” by Kevin Nance) in the May/June 2014 issue. I was so impressed by this author and by what she has accomplished. I have preordered her collection of essays, Bad Feminist, due out in August. Brava, Roxane!
New York, New York
I’m loving me some Roxane Gay in the latest issue of @poetswritersinc.
Thanks to @KevinNance1 for making my workout fly by with this fantastic profile of @rgay.
I learned there is a nationally ranked Scrabble champion in our midst and that is @rgay. Crazy impressed.
In @poetswritersinc, great article on @rgay and her three new/forthcoming books. Gay: “Nobody is all one thing.... Nuance is important.”
John Parrish Peede
In “Labor of Love: The Anthology From Conception to Publication” (May/June 2014), Eleanor Henderson and Anna Solomon explained how lucky they are to see their anthology of true birth stories in print. Having conceived, edited, and brought to publication an anthology of poems by widows, I can share in their joy. My coeditor, Lise Menn, and I spent five years working to put together The Widows’ Handbook: Poetic Reflections on Grief and Survival and to place the completed manuscript with a publisher. We put out calls for submissions—including one in Poets & Writers Magazine—and told every poet or widow we knew about the project, receiving some five hundred poems and prose poems as a result. Both of us read every submission. We spent nearly a year considering what to accept and what to reject, deciding jointly on the contents of the final manuscript. Together we wrote a query letter and a three-page proposal, which we sent to fifteen publishers before Kent State University Press accepted the anthology. We obtained permission to publish or reprint from all eighty-five contributors in advance, only to have to repeat that process when the publishers insisted on using their own forms. We did not have an advance or grants to pay contributors; instead, we gave each of them a complimentary copy of the anthology. Now that The Widows’ Handbook is circulating, my coeditor and I, along with many of the contributors, are arranging and giving readings to promote it, traveling on our own dime. While we expect it will be years before the royalties we receive make up for our expenses, we are grateful to everyone who helped us and proud of what we’ve accomplished. We know our book will bring solace and sustenance to many, but we also realize that our involvement does not end with publication.
I am grateful for “The Sentimentalist: In Defense of Feeling” (March/April 2014) by Nate Pritts. I am a very old woman; my life has been inexhaustibly rich in feeling and in honestly acknowledging those feelings. I think the use of irony in contemporary poetry comes from a fear of being considered weak or self-indulgent. It’s far easier to criticize than to celebrate or to grieve sincerely, but human feelings, expressed truthfully in the art of language, can give power to our lives.
Phyllis Hoge Thompson
Albuquerque, New Mexico