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.
The Stars Align
I was pleased and surprised to see Colson Whitehead on the cover of the July/August 2014 issue and featured in Kevin Nance’s “How I Found My Agent: Ten Authors on Meeting the One.” As it happens Whitehead is married to my agent, Julie Barer, and I have Poets & Writers Magazine to thank for being one of her clients. After reading what Julie had to say in an installment of “Agents & Editors” by Jofie Ferrari-Adler (January/February 2009), I sent her a query. I had no connections. I didn’t network. I didn’t have an MFA or prior publications. Still, my novel went from Julie’s slush pile to print in two years. The Cartographer of No Man’s Land was published last year by Liveright, an imprint of Norton. The book was selected for the Indie Next List, as well as Barnes & Noble’s Discover Great New Writers Program, and has been picked up for publication by Penguin in Canada and Myrmidon Books in the United Kingdom. Sometimes the stars align and a person sending out a cold query can get noticed!
P. S. Duffy
Benjamin Percy did a great job in his profile of James Lee Burke, “Familiar Stranger” (July/August 2014). I discovered Burke about ten years ago and have touted his work to many of my writing friends since then. Percy engaged him at the proper place: his home, his ranch outside Missoula, Montana—a natural setting, which Burke describes like no other writer. Thank you for sharing Burke’s work with the world in a manner befitting it.
Summerville, South Carolina
Thank you for Wendy Brown-Báez’s “Why We Write: The Wounded and Enduring” (July/August 2014), describing the author’s work with the Minnesota Prison Writing Workshop. As a self-published writer and an inmate at a federal correction facility, I was thrilled that such a program exists and is highly successful. I have passed the article on to the head of my prison’s education department with the hope of having a similar program established here.
B. C. Murray
Forrest City, Arkansas
Thank you so much for two wonderful articles in the July/August 2014 issue: Brown-Báez’s “Why We Write: The Wounded and Enduring” and Amanda Calderon’s “A Safe Space for Veteran Writers.” When I was asked to teach a creative writing class for Veterans Moving Forward, a new program for incarcerated veterans at the Vista Detention Facility near San Diego, I was hesitant. But after seven months, stories are now pouring out of my students and there is even talk of expanding the program.
Bobby Van Hise
Calderon’s “A Safe Space for Veteran Writers” is an exemplary article on the therapeutic aspects of writing. Indeed, there is a place for poets and writers to work in collaboration with therapists at veterans centers and other health-care institutions. Brown-Báez’s “Why We Write: The Wounded and Enduring,” which focuses on self-reflective writing in a prison, affirms how writing provides a vehicle for emotional release.
The Written Image in the July/August 2014 issue contained a number of factual errors: Ray Johnson was not involved in “several avant-garde and performance communities” at the time of his death; the artist did not intend his letters as “conceptual art pieces”; Johnson did not move to New York City to be an abstract painter but rather because his lover lived there; and he did not intend for his letters to be copied or defaced, but rather to be altered and returned or passed along.