The Sept/Oct 2016 issue features messages for the next president from fifty American poets and writers; a profile of writer and photographer Teju Cole; an interview with award-winning author Jacqueline Woodson; a conversation about memoir between William Giraldi and Sven Birkerts; a special section on MFA programs in creative writing; a Q&A with poetry critic Steph Burt; and more.
Fifty American poets and writers offer messages to the next commander in chief about what’s most important to them, and what they hope to see in the next four years.
Love and Witness: A Profile of Teju Cole
In a new collection of essays, Known and Strange Things, writer and photographer Teju Cole sharpens the focus and adjusts the frame in personal and probing considerations of life and art.
Pay Attention: A Conversation Between William Giraldi and Sven Birkerts
William Giraldi, whose new memoir, The Hero’s Body, was published in August, talks with Sven Birkerts, the author of the memoir My Sky Blue Trades and The Art of Time in Memoir, about the artful craft and contradictions of a...
Upon the release of Another Brooklyn, her first novel for adults in twenty years, award-winning author Jacqueline Woodson discusses New York City’s literary legacy, the strength in being a person of color, putting humanity on the page, living in the age of Beyoncé, and happiness
A Lifetime to Write: Warren Wilson and the Origins of the Low-Residency MFA
This year marks the fortieth anniversary of the country's oldest low-residency MFA program in creative writing, established by poet Ellen Bryant Voigt in 1976 at Goddard College before relocating to Warren Wilson College in 1981. Contributing editor...
Industrious After Wisdom: Thoughts on the MFA as a Student and Teacher
Writer and teacher Jim Minick recalls his unique experiences as a student in one MFA program while teaching in another, and offers ideas about what an ideal full- and low-residency program might include.
Making the Road by Walking: From Brooklyn to the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and Back
A novelist revisits the challenges of attending the Iowa Writers’ Workshop as a person of color, and explores the importance of inclusion, community, and home.
Classroom as Community: Creating Safe Spaces in Creative Nonfiction Workshops
The writing workshop model presents a certain degree of risk—sharing artistic work inherently involves becoming vulnerable to critique and potential emotional fallout. Perhaps none experience this risk more than creative nonfiction writers, whose...
A Harmony of Whims: Toward a Philosophy of Teaching Writing
Tasked with developing teaching philosophy, an award-winning author of more than twenty-five books looks back on his years of teaching, and reflects on what makes an effective writing teacher.
The Aha! Moment: Kate Daniels of the MFA Program at Vanderbilt University
As part of a continuing series, poet Kate Daniels, director of the MFA program at Vanderbilt University, discusses the potential she saw in poetry applicant Tiana Clark’s admissions essay.
News and Trends
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 Safran Foer’s Here I Am and Monica Youn’s Blackacre, as the starting point for a closer look at these new and noteworthy titles.
Small Press Points highlights the innovation and can-do spirit of independent presses. This issue features the Salt Lake City–based Torrey House Press. Established in 2010 by Kristen Johanna Allen and Mark Bailey, the nonprofit press releases six to eight fiction titles each year that focus on the American West, specifically as it relates to human relationships and the natural world.
Celebrating its fortieth anniversary this year, the Just Buffalo Literary Center offers workshops, youth programs, events, an international authors series, and an unmatched literary community in western New York.
Now in its second year, the BinderCon professional development conference, held biannually in New York and Los Angeles, works to champion and connect women and gender nonconforming writers.
Tracy Sherrod, current editorial director of Amistad Press, discusses how the publisher of multicultural voices has changed over its thirty-year history, as well as the challenges it faces today.
Literary MagNet highlights an author alongside the journals that have published that author’s work. This issue’s MagNet features fiction writer Matt Bell, who takes us through five journals that first published pieces appearing in his latest collection, A Tree or a Person or a Wall.
At the University of Pittsburgh, poets Dawn Lundy Martin, Terrance Hayes, and Yona Harvey recently established the Center for African American Poetry and Poetics—a creative think tank dedicated to African American poets.
The Practical Writer
Steph Burt, acclaimed critic, poet, and Harvard professor, talks about their path to becoming a poetry critic, working as both a poet and a critic, and how the internet has greatly expanded the conversations surrounding poetry and poetics.
In a continuing series, Debra W. Englander consults an author and events manager, as well as a CEO of a book-marketing firm, to provide self-published author Jonathan R. Miller valuable book-industry advice on his novel The Two Levels.
What do Ann Patchett, Jeff Kinney, Louise Erdrich, and Judy Blume have in common? Aside from being best-selling authors, they are all also dedicated booksellers, each having opened independent bookstores of their own.
The Literary Life
Writing for Strangers: What Speechwriting Taught Me About Writing Fiction
Any job has the potential to teach us valuable lessons about writing. Novelist Hannah Gersen shares what she learned about writing fiction from working as a speechwriter for the New York City Parks and Recreation Commissioner.
The Time is Now: Writing Prompts and Exercises
Compose a series of tree poems, explore the supernatural with a ghost story, or examine your personal history with politics through an essay—three prompts to stretch your literary perspective.
Return and Repeat, Culminate and Continue: On Crafting the End in Fiction
Employing models from fiction masters Jhumpa Lahiri, Jane Smiley, ZZ Packer, among others, fiction writer and editor Jennifer De Leon explores various approaches to craft endings in fiction.
Why We Write: A Life Imagined
In a testament to the power of poetry in giving shape to complex emotions, a poet reflects on how writing his poetry collection, Dear Almost, helped him find shelter amidst the grief of a miscarriage.
A Student Remembers: Saying Good-Bye to Peter Matthiessen
Novelist Elizabeth Kostova pays tribute to her longtime writing mentor, the late National Book Award–winning author Peter Matthiessen.