Feedback from readers
What an awe-inspiring conversation with Reginald Dwayne Betts (“Name a Song” by Mahogany L. Browne, November/December 2019). As a Black man who is sixteen years into a life sentence without parole, I find it refreshing to read the undeniable success story of a man who has walked the same roads I have traveled. His path wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t without battles, but Betts’s life is a shining example of the restorative power of change. As a prisoner, a technical college graduate, a restorative justice graduate, and the proud author of a recently published book of poems, I see a limitless pathway to success because of people like Reginald Dwayne Betts. Thank you for telling his truth and for boldly presenting him as once broken but now transformed. You have an incredible magazine that has helped me develop my gifts and build my knowledge of this community of which I am now a part.
New Lisbon Correctional Institution
New Lisbon, Wisconsin
Thank you for the fantastic Q&A with Reginald Dwayne Betts. I love how it was constructed—Mahogany L. Browne’s observations interspersed with the questions she posed. As a writer of profiles, I found it beautiful, exciting, and inspiring. I also found a new poet to read in Betts as well as plenty of food for thought, and for that I am more than grateful. Many thanks for another great issue. I’m always eager to read the magazine when it finally arrives here in Japan and a little sad when I’m finished.
I enjoyed reading the profiles of the various indie publishers in “The Future of Independent Publishing: Eight Industry Innovators on the Book Business of Tomorrow” (November/December 2019). In particular, I’d like to give a shout-out to Fiona McCrae at Graywolf Press. She was spot-on: “The independent spirits among the agents, booksellers, critics, media, distributors, librarians, and presenters are the ones who will continue to make a difference to the work of indie publishers.” I’m a librarian who works in a public library. I catalogue all the new adult books in the collection. Many of the new tomes I handle are from indie presses, and many of those are works of literary translations. We librarians are proud to offer these diverse indie titles to our patrons. And I’ve now amassed a long list of publishers that produce literary translations.
My first copy of Poets & Writers Magazine came, and I’ve enjoyed the issue, especially 5 Over 50 (November/December 2019). What an encouragement to those who feel it is too late to get published. I’ve been writing since I was twelve, when my first poem was published by my aunt’s church newspaper. They sent me a check for $1.50, a fortune to a twelve-year-old. I was going to be a great writer and travel the world. But life sometimes gets in the way of our dreams. I did self-publish three contemporary fiction novels, and my first book published by a major publisher came out in 2009, when I was seventy-one years old. I really feel blessed. At the age of eighty-one I have just finished my ninth historical novel. To all of those would-be writers who are over sixty-five, start writing!
Diana Wallis Taylor
San Diego, California
For the past three years your annual feature 5 Over 50 has inspired me. This year is no exception. I was gratified to see Peter Kaldheim, age seventy, among the five featured debut authors. Both singer Tina Turner and actress Joan Collins have declared seventy to be the new fifty. Encouraging words, but it is sometimes difficult not to feel marginalized—even shelved—once you hit your seventh decade without publishing your most important work. Wouldn’t it be fun to see future features called 6 Over 60 or 7 Over 70? We boomers out here, faithfully reading Poets & Writers Magazine, would love it.
Carolyn S. Nevin
Nashua, New Hampshire