September/October 2015

The Sept/Oct 2015 issue features profiles of award-winning author Ann Beattie and poet Dean Young; in-depth interviews with 37 INK publisher Dawn Davis and BuzzFeed Books editor Isaac Fitzgerald; our ninth annual special section on MFA programs, including essays on the culture of graduate programs in creative writing and a discussion of diversity and the MFA; and much more.


Agents & Editors: Dawn Davis

by Michael Szczerban

Dawn Davis—vice president and publisher of 37 INK, an imprint of Simon & Schuster’s Atria Publishing Group—talks about editing Edward P. Jones, the lack of diversity in publishing, and what some of the most successful authors have in common.

Once Something Is Said: A Profile of Ann Beattie

by Joshua Bodwell
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Ann Beattie’s rise to literary stardom in the 1970s prompted readers and critics alike to anoint her as the voice of a generation, but her nineteenth book, The State We’re In: Maine Stories, published in August by Scribner, proves again that...

Imagination at the Center: A Profile of Dean Young

by Kevin Nance
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If there’s one thing that bores Dean Young, it’s poetry that is consistent. “Consistency is for insects,” he declares. Which is why in his new collection, Shock by Shock, published this month by Copper Canyon Press, the poet doesn’t dwell on...

Special Section

The Way of the Workshop

by Kevin Larimer
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Not all MFA workshops are created equal. Eight writers and teachers describe their individual approaches to workshop and the culture of the classroom, revealing a range of aesthetic and pedagogical principles that reaffirm the value of writers...

The Mature MFA: Going Back to School as an Older Student

by Shannon Reed
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Shannon Reed’s friends didn’t quite understand her decision to go back to school at the age of thirty-eight to earn an MFA. For writers thinking about returning to school as an older student, Reed provides a primer for what to expect, soliciting...

A Distinguished Degree: Eight Elements of Unique MFA Programs

by Dana Isokawa
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From programs with a social justice focus to editorial training and degrees in translation, many MFA programs feature unique elements beyond the traditional workshop model. Here, we round up eight programs across the country that offer something a...

The Fine Art of Selecting a Program: Five Reasons to Consider an MA

by Joey Franklin
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For those considering a graduate program in writing but who may not feel the MFA is right for them, an author and teacher offers five practical reasons to consider a Master of Arts degree as an alternative.

My Own Path to Publication: Choosing to Forgo the MFA

by Marie Myung-Ok Lee
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Though helpful to many writers, the MFA degree is not a requirement to become a working writer, particularly if teaching is not one’s career goal. Novelist Marie Myung-Ok Lee talks about her decision to forgo the MFA, and forge her own path to...

The Aha! Moment: Rene Steinke of Fairleigh Dickinson University

by Michael Bourne
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Rene Steinke, the director of the low-residency MFA program at Fairleigh Dickinson University, discusses the potential she saw in fiction applicant Jessie Vail Aufiery’s writing sample, including a short story called “The Pleasure of Giving.”  

News and Trends

The Written Image: The End of the Tour

by Staff

Iconic author David Foster Wallace is the subject of the recently released film The End of the Tour, in which actor Jason Segel stars as Wallace. The film is an adaptation of David Lipsky’s Of Course You End up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip With David Foster Wallace, which chronicles Lipsky and Wallace’s 1996 road trip during Wallace’s promotional tour for Infinite Jest.


Searching Indie Bookstore Shelves

by Rachael Hanel

Supporting local bookstores may have just gotten a little easier. A new digital tool called CityShelf allows users to search the shelves of independent bookstores in select cities throughout the country from their mobile devices. 

Small Press Points: Bleeding Heart Publications

by Staff

Small Press Points highlights the innovation and can-do spirit of independent presses. This issue features the Bangkok, Thailand–based Bleeding Heart Publications. Established last year by Scottish ex-pat Gordon Ross and U.S. writer Cali Dawson, the press is committed to publishing fiction and nonfiction from English-language writers from all over the world. 

Literary MagNet

by Travis Kurowski

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 Table Talk, Black Clock, Huizache, Bitter Oleander, and American Chordata.

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 Jonathan Franzen’s Purity and Salman Rushdie’s Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights, as the starting point for a closer look at these new and noteworthy titles.


Shenk Ascends Black Mountain

by Andrew McFadyen-Ketchum

Joshua Wolf Shenk, the new executive director of the Black Mountain Institute (BMI)—an international literary center that supports writers whose work addresses political and cultural issues—discusses BMI’s role in the culture of creative writing and what he plans to bring to the organization.

Hong Kong MFA Program Closes

by Joanna Scutts

Last month, the City University of Hong Kong’s highly respected MFA writing program abruptly shut down. Joanna Scutts investigates the program’s sudden closure, which has prompted protests and political speculations from students and faculty around the world.

The Practical Writer

Adjunct Anxiety: Teaching, Writing, Constantly Striving

by Melissa Febos
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Adjuncting can be difficult, even for those who love teaching writing. A writer and teacher recounts the challenges of her adjunct experiences after graduating with an MFA and publishing her first book. 

Turning Down the Deal: A Crash Course in Publishing

by Mike Harvkey
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A novelist and former fiction reviews editor at Publishers Weekly offers an industry insider’s perspective on how to publish a book on one’s own terms—even if it means turning down a deal.  

The Literary Life

Story Collection as Form: Building a Book of Short Fiction

by Justin Taylor
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How does a story collection happen? Justin Taylor, the author of two short story collections, offers advice about the various ways in which to build a book of short fiction.

Getting the Led Out: Discovering a Better Essay in the Foothills of South Carolina

by Joni Tevis
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The process of writing is one of discovery. A creative nonfiction writer describes how an essay in her new collection came to life, with a little unexpected help from Led Zeppelin. 

Know Thyself: The Linguistics of Place

by Jeremiah Chamberlin
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Contributing editor Jeremiah Chamberlin discusses the value in understanding and appreciating the linguistics of place—in this case, the Midwest—in works of fiction, using the stories of Jack Driscoll and Bonnie Jo Campbell as examples.

Why We Write: Failure Is an Option

by Michael Bourne
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In the life of a writer, sometimes failure is an option, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Fiction writer and contributing editor Michael Bourne shares what he has learned from writing—and failing to sell—two novels.  

The Time Is Now

by Staff
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Compose a poem from a stranger’s perspective, unlock your unconscious with “automatic writing,” or create your own astrological forecast—three prompts to help you reach new depths in your writing.