September/October 2021

In our annual MFA Issue, eight recent graduates offer insights on the realities of applying to, choosing, and attending an MFA program; Felicia Rose Chavez, Viet Thanh Nguyen, Matthew Salesses, and Namrata Poddar discuss race, power, and the writing workshop; Laura Da’ interviews U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo about her new memoir, Poet Warrior; Kaveh Akbar talks about his new poetry collection, Pilgrim Bell; plus essays on the art of truth by five debut nonfiction writers; how-to articles on author newsletters and audio galleys; advice from an agent; writing prompts; contest deadlines; and much more.


The New Nonfiction 2021

by Various
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Essays by Lauren Hough (Leaving Isn’t the Hardest Thing), Brian Broome (Punch Me Up to the Gods), Lilly Dancyger (Negative Space), Ashley C. Ford (Somebody’s Daughter), and Anna Qu (Made in China).

Kaveh Akbar

The Wide Question: A Q&A With Kaveh Akbar

by Claire Schwartz

Kaveh Akbar, the author of Calling a Wolf a Wolf, returns with Pilgrim Bell, a collection of poems that dissolves the border between knowing and not knowing and interrogates ideals of justice, the self, and the divine.


Special Section


by Staff
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Eight recent graduates from MFA programs across the U.S. offer advice on applying, choosing, financing, attending, and completing a graduate writing program.

News and Trends

Painting by Audrey Roué

An Artist’s Game of Telephone

by Adrienne Raphel

Artist Nathan Langston put a unique spin on a game of Telephone by using a fragment of poetry to inspire one artist then another—growing into a multifaceted project with contributions from artists from seventy-two countries.

Literary Agents of Change

Literary Agents of Change

by Enma Karina Elias

To recruit talented BIPOC professionals into literary agenting and ensure social justice in the field, Literary Agents of Change offers a paid internship program as well as a mentorship program focusing on retention.

Roxane Gay

Roxane Gay’s Imprint Opens Doors

by Brian Gresko

Roxane Gay Books, a new imprint of Grove Atlantic, will publish three books a year in a variety of genres, with the author herself casting a wide net in terms of the submissions she’s seeking and dispensing with the usual requirements.

The Practical Writer

The Nitty-Gritty: How to Create an Author Newsletter

by Michael Bourne
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A look at the tools, platforms, and strategies authors can use to directly communicate with their readers, including advice on effective author newsletters from Catherine Baab-Muguira, Danielle Trussoni, Jane Friedman, and Yanyi. 

Advance Listening Editions: How to Create Your Own Audio Galley

by Justin St. Germain
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An author and podcaster considers a new strategy for building pre-publication buzz and offers cost-saving methods, products, and software writers can use to record their own audio galleys. 

The Literary Life

The Time Is Now: Writing Prompts and Exercises

by Staff
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Write a poem that contemplates the impact you want to make as a writer, a story about a culture shift in a family, or an essay about a simple word and its presence in your life.

Lost in the Weeds: In Praise of Wild Things—in the Garden and in Writing

by Ashley Memory
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A poet discovers a newfound appreciation for the dandelion, blackberry vines, and globes of white clover that encroach on her garden, finding an inspiring metaphor for the wild things waiting to be unearthed in her own unfinished drafts.

Entering Through the Side Door: A Path for Approaching Your Truth in Difficult Material

by Mira Ptacin
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The author reflects on her complicated pregnancy and subsequent abortion—experiences that shaped her first book, the memoir Poor Your Soul—and the ways writers explore the periphery of events to find the beating heart of their subjects.

Losing My Manuscript: On Almost Giving Up

by J. Nicole Jones
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After her notebooks and journals were stolen, a memoirist revisits the stories of famous writers who lost their own work and describes how losing her notes forced her to re-envision her first book, Low Country, published in April.