December 2010

An Interview with Linda Sue Park

Martin Naparsteck
Linda Sue Park has been recognized as one of America's leading writers of children's literature ever since winning the Newbery Medal for her 2001 young adult novel A Single Shard. She has published nine middle-grade/YA novels, seven of them in some way concerning Korea: Korean history, Korean mythology, the impact of the Korean War on a little girl in Brooklyn, and the attempts by the occupying Japanese to stamp out Korean identity. She has also published six picture books for children, which tend to explore the uses of language (the different sounds attributed to animals in different languages, for example, or sijo, a traditional form of Korean poetry). Her books are regularly selected as among the best books of the year by various library associations and trade journals like Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, and Booklist.

The Long Approach: How I Came to Be a Very Old Formalist Poet

Maxine Kumin
I had no idea that poems could be written to encompass the actual tawdry world we lived in. The tone and the diction amazed me.

Remembering George Hitchcock

Mark Jarman
It was George Hitchcock who made me understand Paul Éluard's famous observation, "There is another world, but it is in this one." That other world was the domain of the maker, the artist, of imagination. George Hitchcock, "Jorge," lived there all of his life.

Poetry & Memorability

Mark Irwin
...Vladimir Nabokov notes that distinguished literature often presents its material in a tripartite sequence: magic, story, lesson. He supports this notion with examples from Kafka, Proust, and Flaubert, among others.


Make it New/Make it Funky: An Interview with Cornelius Eady

Jona Colson
Cornelius Eady is the author of eight books of poetry including Kartunes; Victims of the Latest Dance Craze; BOOM, BOOM, BOOM (chapbook); The Gathering of My Name (nominated for a Pulitzer Prize); You Don't Miss Your Water; The Autobiography of a Jukebox; and Brutal Imagination, which was a National Book Award Finalist. His most recent collection, Hardheaded Weather: New and Selected Poems,was nominated for an NAACP Image Award. His honors include the Prairie Schooner Strousse Award, a Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Award, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Rockefeller Foundation.

An Interview with Tom Perrotta

Carrie-Anne DeDeo
Read almost any of his books and one thing becomes clear: Tom Perrotta hails from New Jersey. Like Buddy, the main character in Perrotta's first book, the short story collection Bad Haircut: Stories of the Seventies (1994), Perrotta grew up in the Garden State during the Me Decade. And like Joe College's (2000) Danny, he left the Jersey suburbs for the ivy halls of Yale, from which he graduated with a BA in English. His writing isn't all autobiographical, though. Unlike The Wishbones's (1997) Dave, he didn't spend his twenties playing in a wedding band. Instead, Perrotta earned an MA in creative writing at Syracuse University, where he studied with Tobias Wolff. He went on to teach writing at both Yale and Harvard. It was while he was teaching at Harvard that his career really took off-thanks in part to director Alexander Payne's adaptation of his novel Election (1998) into an acclaimed movie starring Reese Witherspoon and Matthew Broderick.

Inflection & the Narrative Voice: The L.A.P.D. Teaches Creative Writing

Ellen Collett
Monday through Friday, I'm enthralled by a man I've never met. His name is Martinez and he's a cop with the Los Angeles Police Department. Martinez could be married, divorced, or single. Tall, short, or ugly, but certainly fit. Statistically, he's a high school graduate. If he's had some college, odds are it was at night. The only way he's not a drinker is if he's churched up or sufficiently married. Martinez works crime suppression in South Central L.A. He and his partner, Brown, patrol the streets in a marked black-and-white police vehicle with radio, computer, and tactical weapons in the trunk. They respond to scenes-of-crimes in progress and to the aftermaths of crimes. Every incident they investigate generates a written account.

More Than a Writer's Writer: A Tribute to Vance Bourjaily

Virgil Suárez & Dinty W. Moore
Vance Bourjaily, Postwar American novelist and former teacher at the Iowa Writer's Workshop, died after complications from a fall on August 31, 2010. He was eighty-seven years old. Like those of Norman Mailer and James Jones, Bourjaily's literary career emerged out of World War II, and his novels dealt with post-war American life. He spent much of his life teaching at MFA writing programs around the country. He taught for more than two decades at the University of Iowa and five years at the University of Arizona before becoming the first director of the Master of Fine Arts program in creative writing at Louisiana State University. Apart from his novels, he also wrote short stories, essays, and reviews.

Tratteggio in Creative Nonfiction: How John Krakauer, Maxine Hong Kingston, & Helen Fremont Fill the Gaps

Susan Detweiler
The bedrock assumption in creative nonfiction is that its stories are basically factual and true. But writers of creative nonfiction have the liberty to shape their stories and infuse them with their interpretive meanings.

What About the Suffering?: The Quiet Power of Minor Characters

Scott Nadelson
The majority of the people we encounter are on trajectories that cross ours in the briefest and gentlest way, but that brief crossing can nudge us in a new direction, or reveal to us what path we've actually been stumbling along.