September/October 2010

September/October 2010 cover

Our second annual ranking of the top fifty MFA programs; Monique Truong, the award-winning novelist, tells us why writers should think more like lawyers; novelist Darin Strauss tackles the tragic event that has shaped his life and his writing; Major Jackson, in his third collection, Holding Company, corrals the ecstatic in a ten-line form; and more.


The Taste of Memory: A Profile of Monique Truong

by Renée H. Shea
Print Only

In order to write Bitter in the Mouth, the long-awaited follow-up to her debut novel, The Book of Salt, Monique Truong returned to the place she'd sworn never to see again—home.

The Ever After: A Profile of Darin Strauss

by Allison Gaudet Yarrow
Print Only

In a new memoir, best-selling novelist Darin Strauss tackles the tragic event that he has been forced to live with—and learn from—for more than half his life.

MFA Programs

The MFA Revolution: Ranking the Nation's Best Programs

by Seth Abramson
Print Only

Size, funding, cost of living—there's plenty to consider when choosing a postgraduate creative writing program. In our second annual ranking of the top fifty MFA programs, contributor Seth Abramson measures sixteen distinct program features for the...

Notable New Hires

by Staff
Print Only

A list of authors who have recently joined the faculties of eighteen programs at colleges and universities across the country.

The Dos and Don'ts of MFA Personal Statements

by Nancy Rawlinson
Print Only

The personal statement—a document, required by most programs, in which you must demonstrate that you are a talented, determined writer—is the one thing that causes potential candidates more anxiety than the manuscript itself. Here's a list of dos...

2011 MFA Rankings: The Top Fifty

by Seth Abramson

A combination of hard data from programs that release funding and admissions figures to the public and a vital survey of what the individuals comprising the next generation of U.S. poets and writers have to say about their own priorities in choosing a postgraduate program, here is a ranking of the nation's top fifty MFA programs.

2011 Poets & Writers Magazine Ranking of MFA Programs: A Guide to the Methodology

by Seth Abramson

Size, funding, cost of living—there's plenty to consider when choosing a postgraduate creative writing program. In our second annual ranking of the top fifty MFA programs, contributor Seth Abramson measures sixteen distinct program features for the 148 full-residency programs in the United States, Canada, and New Zealand, and eight features for each of the 46 low-residency programs around the world.

News and Trends

Poets Act on Oil Spill

by Shell Fischer

In response to the Deep-water Horizon oil spill, writers Heidi Lynn Staples and Amy King created Poets for Living Waters, an online poetry forum featuring works written in response to the disaster, spurring a host of nationwide events that give poets not only an opportunity to take action against the catastrophe but also to speak out in support of our natural environment.

Writers Mine Crowdfunding Sites

by Alex Dimitrov

Despite the financial challenges of their vocation, writers have long found accessible, inventive ways to get work into the world. Among the benefit readings and bake sales, a new fund-raising option allows writers to tap into the fertile social networking landscape to find individuals who may be willing to donate the cost of a cupcake to give a project a boost.

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 Paul Murray's Skippy Dies and Ai's No Surrender, as the starting point for a closer look at these new and noteworthy titles.

3 for Free

by Staff

In this regular feature, we offer a few suggestions for podcasts, smartphone apps, Web tools, newsletters, museum shows, and gallery openings: a medley of literary curiosities that you might enjoy.

Digital Digest: Libraries Reinvent to Stay Relevant

by Adrian Versteegh

In June the San Francisco–based nonprofit Internet Archive partnered with several libraries across the country to allow e-book lending, taking the next step toward creating a one-stop online portal for digital reading and offering a hint of the new role libraries may play as the screen displaces the printed page.

Small Press Points

by Staff

Small Press Points highlights the happenings of the small press players. This issue features the new independent poetry press Birds, LLC, whose editors say an integral part of their mission is to build close relationships with authors and their work.

Literary MagNet

by Staff

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 Upstreet, the Iowa Review, Fogged Clarity, jubilat, Granta, and Cellpoems.

The Written Image: Howl

by Staff

A still from Howl, a new film centered on the drama of the obscenity trial brought against Lawrence Ferlinghetti of City Lights for publishing Allen Ginsberg's controversial poem, which is slated for release in New York City and Los Angeles on September 24.


Q&A: Legendre Starts New MA in U.K.

by Jean Hartig

American novelist Thomas Legendre, who has worked with British poet Matthew Welton to develop a new creative writing program at the University of Nottingham, speaks about what makes study in England unique and what writers can gain from attending the new graduate program.

The Practical Writer

Fulbright Grants: An Untapped Resource for Writers

by Franz Knupfer
Print Only

Writers looking for real-world experience—beyond what an MFA program or a writers colony can offer—might be surprised to learn that the prestigious Fulbright grant, thought by many to support only scholars of academic projects, offers aid to...

The Literary Life

The Porn Star Who Came to Dinner: My Dad and the Great American Memoir

by Sean McGrady
Print Only

For today’s memoirist, it seems, the more sensational the story the better. But for former Newsday columnist Mike McGrady, the decision in the late 1970s to write Ordeal—the first-person story of Deep Throat star Linda Lovelace...

Face the Fear: A Rallying Cry for Writers

by Rachel Kadish
Print Only

With so much uncertainty surrounding the publishing industry, writers need to dismiss notions of their own irrelevance and embrace the importance of their work.

First Readers: The Crucial Critics

by Kevin Nance
Print Only

While most writers feel vulnerable showing their work to first readers, the potential rewards far outweigh the risks. Contributing editor Kevin Nance asks esteemed authors such as Barbara Kingsolver, Naomi Shihab Nye, and Steve Yarbrough about...

Why We Write: Notes From Reconstruction

by Renée K. Nicholson
Print Only

After graduating from an MFA program, Renée K. Nicholson's focus on awards and publication credits began to affect her ability to write. It took knee-replacement and a reengagement with her other art form, dancing, to remind her of the real reason...