While the literary community tries to gauge the influence of academia on the state of contemporary fiction, Frederick Reiken, whose two critically acclaimed novels have been translated into several languages, is gently riding out the wave of debate. A graduate of Princeton and the University of California at Irvine's MFA program, Reiken teaches writing in the graduate program at Emerson College. His first novel, The Odd Sea (Harcourt, 1998), won the Hackney Literary Award for First Fiction and was selected by both Booklist and Library Journal as one of the best first novels of the year. This was followed by a more ambitious novel, The Lost Legends of New Jersey (Harcourt, 2000), which became a bestseller and is described by Charles Baxter as "a miraculous balancing of tone and theme."
In the world of hip-hop, Lewis Turco would be considered an “Original Gangsta,” an “O.G.”—a title given to someone who started it all. In the more genteel business of poetry writing, however, Turco would be called an “Institution,” and what he started was nothing less than a renewed appreciation of poetic forms. Since its first edition in 1968, his reference book The Book of Forms has become a standard text for poets of all stripes. A cross between The Joy of Cooking and According to Hoyle for poets, Turco’s text remains a rarity: a reference book with personality. Turco’s lucid, empathetic entries on every form under the sun continue to serve many poets writing their first pantoums or settling drunken bets on the rhyme scheme of the rimas dissolutas (abcdef abcdef ghijlk ghijlk ..., if written in sestets).
Cathy Park Hong is a poet interested in the porous boundaries between languages and cultures. In her newest collection, Dance Dance Revolution (Norton, 2007), winner of the 2006 Barnard Women Poets Prize, Hong creates a poem sequence that takes place in a future city called the Desert. It is in this tourist town, modeled on the likes of Las Vegas and Dubai, that Hong introduces the Guide, an amalgam of new and extinct English dialects, Korean, Latin, Spanish, and other miscellaneous pidgins. Acting as the reader's escort, Hong uses the Guide to address the issues of identity, both personally and geographically, in an increasingly globalized world.
The author of four poetry collections talks about his obsession with the unknown and the poem as a descendent of God.
Phillip Lopate, considered by many to be one of the most important essayists of our time, discusses the controversies surrounding creative nonfiction, his own essay-writing process, and the ultimate quality he looks for in nonfiction—an interesting mind at work on the page.
Nick Piombino has been associated with various schools of poetry, but he is, perhaps, most well known for being one of the theorists who initiated the investigation into what became Language poetry. He spoke recently about collaboration, collage, and his collection Contradicta: Aphorisms, forthcoming from Green Integer Press this month.
One of the world's most beloved storytellers, Neil Gaiman talks about his novel The Ocean at the End of the Lane, young adult literature, writing comics, and how writers should (and should not) use Twitter.
Ron Charles of the Washington Post and the Totally Hip Video Book Review series gives his insights on the ethical and practical challenges of being a book critic for a major newspaper.
PJ Mark, whose clients include Samantha Hunt, Wayne Koestenbaum, Dinaw Mengestu, Maggie Nelson, Ed Park, and Josh Weil, talks about what writers can do to improve their chances of success, why fiction is harder to sell than nonfiction, and the importance of trusting your heart.