December 2006

Painful Howls From Places That Undoubtedly Exist: A Primer Of Deceit

Robin Hemley
When Faulkner bought his house, he named it Rowan Oak, after two talismanic trees, one denoting strength, the other a shield against evil spirits, in this case, reporters and visitors who were forever invading Faulkner's beloved privacy. By the time of my visit, nearly fifty years after his death, plastic barriers had been erected at the entrance of every room of Faulkner's house, but Bill Griffith, the curator, granted me special access to each room-occasionally, other tourists entered the house, and they watched with curiosity and it seemed to me, envy, as I, and I alone (well, in the company of the curator and Anna Baker, one of the graduate writing students at Ole Miss) rummaged through Faulkner's belongings and listened to Bill Griffith's anecdotes and insights about the Great Man.

Ouija, Canoe, Haiku: A Collaborative Inquiry into Collaborative Poetry

Isaac Cates & Chad Davidson
If writing free verse is like playing tennis without a net, is writing in collaboration like playing doubles, or simply like having an opponent who can return your best serve? The recent work of Joshua Beckman and Matthew Rohrer-in particular, their book Nice Hat. Thanks. (Verse Press, 2002)-suggests that collaborative poetry may be an entirely different game: at times pistols at twenty paces; at other times an absurd ballet between a neurasthenic monk and an irreverent orangutan. In each poem, the two collaborators trade lines or words, directing and redirecting the poem's logic, pushing and pulling on the pliable material of the sentence, conjuring unexpected turns out of remarkable freshness. As one reads these poems, one simultaneously follows the line of their reasoning and second-guesses the poet who found himself following a line such as "Walk downstairs singing" with "and stay there."

Who Keeps Killing Poetry?

D.W. Fenza

"Will the next Walt Whitman be an MFA graduate?
Somehow it seems hard to imagine."

-John Barr, President of the Poetry Foundation
The article is available on line at POETRY's website.


The Music of Prose

Richard Goodman
Language is sound by which we communicate. You could say it's organized sound. Or patterned sound. Or sound charged with meaning. But it's still sound. You listen to me speak, and you're listening to sound. But it's variable sound. It's sound with-pauses. With emphasis. With, well, you know, a certain rhythm.

The Realization of a Writer

Walter Mosley

When I was asked to give this talk I quickly, but very nervously agreed. I was eager to address this assembly for reasons that will become obvious later on-but I was worried because of the nature of the AWP. I feel, and have always felt, that this is a very special and specific organization. You are all active members of writing programs around the country and the world. I didn't see how I could be construed as a member of that singular group; and therefore qualified to address you in a keynote capacity.


Time's Harrow: A Study in the Nature of Time and Fiction

Brian Tierney
Waking with the definitive thought that time is circular. Indeed, reasonable people could debate the specific form of time: time is triangular, time is helical, or, of course, the compelling assertion that time is rhomboidal. Reasonable people might debate the issue, that is, if they believe that time exists at all.


An Interview with Alice Mattison

Sarah Anne Johnson

Alice Mattison is the author of In Case We're Separated, The Wedding of the Two-Headed Woman, The Book Borrower, Field of Stars, and Hilda and Pearl, as well as three other short-story collections and a volume of poems. Her writing has appeared in Ploughshares, the New Yorker, the Michigan Quarterly Review, Shenandoah, and other major publications. She was raised in Brooklyn and studied at Queens College and Harvard University.


A Conversation with Alicia Ostriker

Edited by Laure-Anne Bosselaar

For some time, I have interviewed poets writing in America today with a new slant to make those conversations somewhat different than the "classical" interview: I ask each interviewee to give me a list of five to ten authors and/or friends they would like to be interviewed by-instead of just being interviewed by me. I then invite each person on the poet's list to send me their questions, then send these to the interviewee, who chooses which ones to answer, in writing, at his or her leisure. Once I receive the answers back, I edit their order-as if I were transcribing a conversation between the poet and his or her friends. Twice nominated for a National Book Award, Alicia Ostriker is author of eleven volumes of poetry, most recently No Heaven (2005).


Literature and the Cultural "Landscape"

Edited by Sydney Lea

What follows is a patchwork of literary-historical speculation and an elderly poet's cultural rant. It is, quite typically for that poet, at once opinionated and self-suspicious. I trust it will not be too hard to follow as it backs and fills and digresses, flitting from assertion to apology to something like criticism.