An Interview With Fiction Writer Robert Olen Butler

Ken Gordon

Earlier this month Chronicle Books published Severance, a book of extremely short stories, each told from the point of view of a person who has been decapitated. Nicole Brown Simpson, John the Baptist, and Cicero are among the narrators. But Severance isn’t the work of some drooling, maniacal scribbler. In fact, the author, Robert Olen Butler, has published over a dozen books of fiction, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning short story collection, A Good Scent From a Strange Mountain (Henry Holt, 1992).

An Interview With Poet Richard Howard

Kevin Larimer

Richard Howard is rarely at a loss for words. The poet, essayist, translator, editor, and professor is a tireless conversationalist who is always willing to supply a strong opinion on the many subjects to which he has applied his talents during a career that spans four decades.


An Interview With Creative Nonfiction Writer A. J. Jacobs

Frank Bures
A. J. Jacobs is an editor at large for Esquire and one of the premiere immersion journalists and humorists working today. His previous book, The Know-It-All: One Man’s Humble Quest to be the Smartest Person in the World (Simon & Schuster, 2004) recounted his attempt to read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica. His new book, The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible, published this month by Simon & Schuster, tells about another quixotic endeavor. Needless to say, it was a difficult one, given the Bible’s eight hundred explicit rules, many of which are bizarre and unexplained—no mixed fibers; no touching unclean women—plus lots of guidelines and suggestions.

An Interview With Poet Philip Levine

Sally Dawidoff

Throughout his long career, Philip Levine has established a reputation for poems honoring the working class, beginning with the people he encountered as a young man laboring in the factories of Detroit. Though he has taught in writing programs nationwide since the 1950s, his poetry has maintained a stronger identification with the autoworker than the academic. Poets & Writers Magazine asked Levine, who turned eighty in January, how his writing is going these days.

An Interview With Poet and Fiction Writer Grace Paley

Ilya Kaminsky and Katherine Towler

Celebrated short story writer and poet Grace Paley died of cancer last August at the age of eighty-four. A lifelong activist, pacifist, and an early figure in the women’s rights movement in the 1960s, Paley was one of those writers who managed to combine a public life of frequent readings and appearances in support of a range of causes with work lauded for its artistic integrity. We interviewed Paley a little more than a year before her death at her home in Thetford.

An Interview With Poet Pattiann Rogers

Jeannine Hall Gailey

Pattiann Rogers, author of twelve poetry collections, including Wayfare (Penguin, 2008), recently spoke about the process of writing her latest collection, the importance of investigation, and the pleasure of naming the world.


An Interview With Writer Robin Romm

Lauren Hamlin

What began for Robin Romm as an exercise in navigating the loss of her mother evolved into a memoir, The Mercy Papers: A Memoir of Three Weeks, published this month by Scribner. She recently spoke about transitioning from fiction to nonfiction, and back again, and the difficulty of releasing a memoir into the world.


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