On December 8, 2001, Kashmiri-American poet Agha Shahid Ali died of brain cancer at the age of 52. Ali taught creative writing at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst for seven years, and published eight books of poetry, including Rooms Are Never Finished (Norton, 2001), which was a finalist for the National Book Award. A posthumous collection of poems, Call Me Ishmael at Midnight, will be published by Norton in 2003.
Donald Revell grew up in the Bronx, New York. He received his Ph.D. from SUNY-Buffalo, and splits his time between Nevada and Utah, where he is Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Utah. Wesleyan University Press published Revell's seventh book of poems, Arcady, in February. Written as a response to the death of his sister and only sibling, Roberta, in 1995, Arcady draws its vision from the well of Arcadia—the utopic Greek realm described as paradise by Virgil, painted by Poussin, scored by Charles Ives, and contemplated by Thoreau.
In November, Farrar, Straus and Giroux will publish August Kleinzahler's eleventh book of poetry, The Strange Hours Travelers Keep. A loner and a traveler himself, Kleinzahler has avoided the cloistered life of academia for stints as a logger in British Columbia, a political commentator in Germany and, most recently, a music columnist for the San Diego Weekly Reader.
Rebecca Wolff's second collection of poems, Figment, won the 2003 Barnard Women Poets Prize and was published by Norton in April. Her first book, Manderley, was chosen by Robert Pinsky for the 2000 National Poetry Series; it was published by the University of Illinois Press the following year. That publication record alone would satisfy most poets. But Wolff's accomplishments don't end there.
Vijay Seshadri was born in Bangalore, India, in 1954, and moved to Columbus, Ohio, at the age of five. He has lived in various parts of the country, including Oregon, where he worked as a commercial fisherman, and as a biologist for the National Marine Fish Service. He drove a truck for a living in San Francisco, and worked briefly as a logger before coming to New York City to study with poet Richard Howard in the master's program at Columbia University.
After a brief but torrential thunderstorm in mid-June, eight writers of poetry and prose, myself included, huddled around a picnic table crowded with three-buck beer and leaves of printed-out poems, stories, and essays in the concrete garden of a Brooklyn bar. It had been almost a year since I'd taken a seat at a table with other writers to talk about the stuff, the meat of our writing and the project at hand every time each of us settles in to confront the blank page.
It took a long time to write these words. I'm not referring to the psychosomatic affliction known as writer's block. I mean the delays caused by the process of composition and revision.
For this inaugural installment of More to the Story—an occasional feature in which we ask authors to list the movies, music, artwork, and books that inspired them during the course of writing their new books—we asked A.M. Homes about her fifth novel,This Book Will Save Your Life, which was published by Viking last month.
For the second installment of this occassional feature, in which we ask authors to list the movies,
music, artwork, and books that inspired them during the course of
writing their new books, we asked two-time Booker
Prize–winning author Peter Carey, whose ninth novel was published by
Knopf in May, for his list; he replied with this essay.