November/December 2008

November/December 2008 cover

Toni Morrison, in her new novel, casts a characteristically unflinching eye on who we are and how we got here, plus our annual look at MFA programs.

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Features

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Agents & Editors: A Q&A With Editor Chuck Adams

by Jofie Ferrari-Adler

A veteran editor who has worked at publishing houses both large and small, Chuck Adams of Algonquin Books talks about what beginning writers tend to forget, the secret to selling two million copies, and the problem with MFA writing.

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The Spirit and the Strength: A Profile of Toni Morrison

by Kevin Nance
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A writer doesn't work for four decades, publish ten books, and win the Nobel Prize without developing a healthy dose of skepticism. This attitude, combined with the confidence to disregard critics, has made Toni Morrison stronger than ever.

The Guest List: A Profile of Paul Guest

by Amy Pence
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With the publication of his new collection, Paul Guest challenges readers' assumptions about poetry and autobiography.  

The World Over: A Profile of Rolf Potts

by Frank Bures

Getting there may be half the fun, but for Rolf Potts, author of Marco Polo Didn’t Go There, the art of traveling—and travel writing—raises more important questions than how to go from point A to point B.

MFA Programs

Show Me the Money: A Roundup of the Top-Funded MFA Programs

by Seth Abramson

The MFA degree is increasingly popular with aspiring writers, but it’s not exactly the most lucrative credential. While the ancillary experience of many MFA graduates may qualify them to teach or work in publishing, it’s unlikely that upon graduation they’ll be recruited for a high-paying job that will offset the cost of having attended. It only makes sense, then, that prospective students should avoid having to pay for the degree when they can.

Teaching Assistantship 101: What You Need to Know

by Staff

One way MFA programs provide funding to students is by hiring them as teaching assistants to teach writing classes in exchange for a stipend and, often, tuition remission and health insurance. While each program defines its teaching assistantships differently, in general there are a few things you should know before applying and preparing for one.

Seven Ways to Create Community Post-MFA

by Staff
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Ideas for how to transition from a writing program into the broader literary community.  

The Top Fully Funded Programs

by Staff
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Stats on nineteen MFA programs that offer funding packages to their students.  

Regrouping After the MFA: How to Find Community Postprogram

by Jean Hartig

After a brief but torrential thunderstorm in mid-June, eight writers of poetry and prose, myself included, huddled around a picnic table crowded with three-buck beer and leaves of printed-out poems, stories, and essays in the concrete garden of a Brooklyn bar. It had been almost a year since I'd taken a seat at a table with other writers to talk about the stuff, the meat of our writing and the project at hand every time each of us settles in to confront the blank page.

News and Trends

These United States

by Joe Woodward

As the presidential election approaches, our national hand-wringing has ramped up and everyone is once again focused on the perennial question: What makes America America? Two recent literary anthologies show just how far this popular introspection reaches into our creative communities of writers and artists.

Page One: Where New and Noteworthy Books Begin

by Staff

With so many good books being published every month, some literary titles worth exploring can get lost in the stacks. Page One offers the first lines of a dozen recently released books, including Robyn Schiff's Revolver and Adam Braver's November 22, 1963, as the starting point for a closer look at these new and noteworthy titles.

Literary MagNet

by Kevin Larimer

Literary MagNet chronicles the start-ups and closures, successes and failures, anniversaries and accolades, changes of editorship and special issues—in short, the news and trends—of literary magazines in America. This issue's MagNet features GUD, Night Train, Quick Fiction, the New Renaissance, AGNI, Ploughshares, Salamander, Post Road, and the Harvard Review.

Small Press Points

by Kevin Larimer

Small Press Points highlights the happenings of the small press players. This issue features City Lights Publishers, Grove Press, Grove/Atlantic, Atlantic Monthly Press, New Directions, Coffee House Press, Akashic Books, Harbor Mountain Press, Goats and Compasses Press, EM Press, and Perceval Press.

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Q&A: Phillips Leads Newark’s New MFA

by Sarah Weinman

Jayne Anne Phillips, who is in her second year as program director of the new MFA program in creative writing at Rutgers University's Newark, New Jersey, speaks about the program's genesis, its connection to Newark's literary and cultural community, and finding the time to complete her new novel.

The Written Image: Doc Humes

by Staff

The story of the Paris Review cofounder Harold Louis "Doc" Humes is at once sad, fascinating, funny, and tragic. Doc, a new documentary by his daughter Immy Humes, which, to use her father's words, "puts a frame around the wreckage" of the story, will premiere on the PBS series Independent Lens on December 9.

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The Contester: Down Came a Contest, Cradle and All

by Kevin Larimer

The brief, contentious, and ultimately fruitless relationship between poet Stacey Lynn Brown and the editors of Cider Press, points to an essential question that pops up often in literary publishing: Whose opinion—author's or publisher's—should matter most when it comes to finalizing the product that enters the marketplace as a book?

The Practical Writer

Narrative Calisthenics: Exercises to Jump-Start Your Writing

by Bret Anthony Johnston
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Writers can use routine exercises to clear their minds and establish focus before settling in to the real work.  

First: Andrew Porter's Prizewinning Stories

by Nicole Pezold
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A decade after a devastating burglary stripped him of nearly everything he had written and his will to keep writing, Andrew Porter comes back stronger than ever with his debut short story collection, The Theory of Light and Matter.  

Book Trailers: The Key to Successful Video Marketing

by Sarah Weinman
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More and more publishers and authors are using video as a promotional tool to attract the attention of a younger generation. But before writers collaborate with their publishers on book trailers—or even produce their own—there are some important...

The Literary Life

The Art of Reading Aharon Appelfeld: The Precious and the Best

by William Giraldi
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Novelist Aharon Appelfeld is a writer for whom language is dangerous, a man who measures every word because every word is sacred.  

Writing Good Bad Poetry: The Beastly Beauty of Poems on the Wire

by Mike Chasar
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Deadline poetry, aspiring more for political effect than literary greatness, takes its place on the op-ed page.

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