September/October 2004

Taking dance lessons might be a surprising response to a lighting bolt that struck at the heart of Rita Dove's rich literary life, destroying manuscripts and hard drives along with much of her home. But that's exactly what the Pulitzer Prize–winning poet did.

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On Becoming Learned: A Profile of Ha Jin

by Jack Rightmyer
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An underage, barely literate footsoldier in the Chinese People's Liberation Army becomes a successful author living in America and writing in English. The premise for a good novel? No, the true-life adventures of award-winning novelist Ha Jin.  

American Smooth: A Profile of Rita Dove

by Renée H. Shea
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The Pulitzer Prize–winning poet on her new collection inspired by her love of dance.

These Enormous Simplicities: A Profile of Ruth Stone

by Yvonne Daley
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At the age of 89, National Book Award–winning poet Ruth Stone is losing her eyesight, but her poetic vision is stonger than ever, as readers will discover with her just-published ninth collection, In the Dark.  

Independent Presses

by Mary Gannon
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Every year we celebrate the small press industry, which continues to find creative ways to thrive despite the current publishing climate and—in some cases—because of it. In this issue we check in with fourteen presses from different regions across...

News and Trends

Is That a Penguin in Your Pocket?

by Kevin Canfield

A recent headline in the New York Times Book Review declared, “Books Make You a Boring Person.” Many would disagree with that statement, but few would go as far as the folks in the marketing department at Penguin UK. The London-based arm of the venerable publishing house has begun to advertise its books as dating aids. According to Penguin, you’re not good looking—or Good Booking—unless you’re holding a book.


Learning to Read a Doctor's Books

by Ken Gordon

Vladimir Nabokov once wrote, “Does there not exist a high ridge where the mountainside of ‘scientific’ information joins the opposite slope of ‘artistic’ imagination?” This was, of course, a rhetorical question, but Nabokov’s own life proved that this connection indeed exists. A dedicated lepidopterist (one who studies moths and butterflies), Nabokov not only held a post at the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard University, he also wrote Lolita, a classic of 20th-century literature. I was recently reminded of Nabokov’s butterflies in, of all places, a dead man’s apartment in Boston.

The Contester: WordTech Cancels Poetry Contests

by Eleanor Henderson

For nearly two years, WordTech Communications was one of the growing number of small presses using the contest model in which entry fees fund prize monies as well as the publication and promotion of winning books. Some would even say the Cincinnati-based press was gung ho about it, holding a different poetry contest every month. But in June, WordTech announced it was discontinuing its contest program and replacing it with an open-submissions policy, stating that there was more money to be made without contests.

The Inner Voices of Richard Howard

by Kevin Larimer

Richard Howard will turn 75 in October, the same month that Farrar, Straus and Giroux will publish Inner Voices: Selected Poems 1963–2003 and Paper Trail: Selected Prose 1965–2003, and he seems more eager than ever to share his unique perspectives.

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 Granta, the Indiana Review, Black Warrior Review, Court Green, Columbia Poetry Review, Absinthe Literary Review, Minima, Wild Strawberries, and Cue.

Small Press Points

by Kevin Larimer

Small Press Points highlights the happenings of the small press players. This issue features Future Tense Books, Manic D Press, Akashic Books, Nightboat Books, and Autumn House Press.


Big City, Big Magazine, Big Festival

by Timothy Schaffert

Every year, musicians, movie stars, filmmakers, and politicos share billing with creative writers at the New Yorker Festival, held every autumn at various New York City venues. Now in its fifth year, the literary event has turned into a pop-culture phenomenon.

Page One: Where New and Noteworthy Books Begin

by Staff

Page One features a sample of titles we think you'll want to explore. With this installment, we offer excerpts from A Reading Diary: A Passionate Reader’s Reflections 0n a Year of Books by Alberto Manguel, The Secret Goldfish by David Means, and A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews.

The Practical Writer

The USA Patriot Act: What Writers Need to Know

by Kay Murray

Is it against the law for an American literary journal editor to publish a translation of a poem by a member of a terrorist organization? Is it illegal to translate it? Learn what writers need to know about the Patriot Act.

The Literary Life

On Finally Getting Published: After 20 Years of Rejection

by Dan Allan
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One writer's years-long struggle to get published.

Writing in Your Underwear: And Other Ways to Summon the Muse

by Lee Harrington
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On writers' unique rituals.

Poets on Place: Carl Phillips in St. Louis, Missouri

by W.T. Pfefferle
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The poet discusses how place or placelessness affects his writing.