March/April 2021

Our annual Writers Retreats Issue features a look at the uncertain future of conferences and residencies during the pandemic and how writers are finding community and connection; profiles of novelist Imbolo Mbue and essayist Melissa Febos; Tiana Clark on writing in the time of COVID; Laura Maylene Walter on launching a debut novel during quarantine; an interview with poet and BOA Editions editor-at-large Aracelis Girmay; writing prompts; contest deadlines; and more.

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Features

What We Ought to Do: The Song of Imbolo Mbue

by Renée H. Shea
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In her second novel, How Beautiful We Were, Imbolo Mbue uses the chorus of voices in a small African village fighting for justice in the shadow of an American oil company to sing in celebration of community, connection, and enduring hope.

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Craft Therapy: A Profile of Melissa Febos

by Brian Gresko
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In her third book, the essay collection Girlhood, published by Bloomsbury in March, Melissa Febos transforms scars into meditations on culture and psychology. 

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Special Section

The Road Ahead: Uncertainty and Resiliency at Writers Conferences and Retreats

by Michael Bourne
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The author looks at how conferences and residencies are adapting to the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic by hosting virtual events and adjusting their budgets to stay afloat.

Pandemic Writing Group: Finding Creativity, Community, and Play

by Marie Myung-Ok Lee
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The novelist and essayist shares her experience creating a virtual writing group focused on play, and muses on the meaning of productivity and artistic friendship during the pandemic.

Resources for Writers in Need of Connection

by Staff
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A list of social platforms, online writing classes, and virtual book clubs for writers seeking community.

News and Trends

The Practical Writer

Revising the Dream: Publishing a Debut Novel in an Uncertain World

by Laura Maylene Walter
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The author describes releasing her first novel during the pandemic, and speaks to other debut writers who have canceled book tours, pushed back publication dates, and adjusted their expectations in light of COVID-19.

The Literary Life

The Time Is Now: Writing Prompts and Exercises

by Staff
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Write a poem with instructions for removing self-imposed roadblocks, a story that begins in an unconventional setting, and an essay that catalogues the history of your physical injuries.

A Room of (Almost My Own): Finding Space, and Permission, to Write

by Liz González
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After years of using everything from a laptop cart to a kitchen nook as a designated writing space, the author finally creates a room of her own in her home in Long Beach, California.

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