February 2013

Nathaniel Hawthorne as Writing Instructor

Nancy Bunge
Even though Hawthorne produced fiction complex enough to keep thousands of literary critics busy interpreting it for a century and a half, his work has a surprisingly simple source: his determination to tell the truth.

Fearless Asymmetry: How Poems Begin

Sharon Dolin
Ending a poem is an important and difficult business for most poets, and so they often deploy certain time-honored techniques to create a sense of closure or openness at a poem’s end.

The Changing Publishing Landscape

Ronald Goldfarb
Here I return to the e-book phenomenon, which combined with the growing trend toward consolidation of publishing houses, raises questions about the book business, and continues the perennial conflict between the best interests of culture and commerce.

Imagination & Memory: An Interview with Afaa Michael Weaver

Rafael Otto
I’d like to go back to the frame of reference in my first book and continue to write about that industrial world and about working class life, not just in Baltimore, but throughout America as well. I’d like to explore America from a center located in the world of work.

Surprise as Method & Mystique: The Astonishing Technique of Chris Adrian

Jacob M. Appel
The key to Adrian’s success is his mastery of surprise. An element of surprise is, of course, present in much fiction.

Philip Levine & the Extensive Poem: "Jewish Graveyards, Italy"

Richard Jackson
How long is a long poem, Octavio Paz asks in The Other Voice. He notes, for example, that for a Japanese poet, thirty to forty lines is quite long, while for Dante it is about one third of just one of the thirty-four cantos that make up The Inferno, not to mention Purgatorio or Paradiso. In between, he notes poems by Mallarme and T.S. Eliot. Some writers, like Poe in “The Poetic Principle,” for instance, suggest that a long poem is a contradiction in terms; for a poem, he insists, is an intense and transient moment that excites and elevates us. It is certainly true that how a poet deals with the moments that constitute his or her poems is essential in seeing the kind of imagination at work in them.

A Heartbeat that Pounds the Head: An Interview with Juliana Baggott

Sarah Layden
Novelist Julianna Baggott defies simple categorization. She has written eighteen books across multiple genres, using three different names. She appears in The Best American Poetry 2012, her third such appearance, and she also has a film deal with Fox 2000 for her novel Pure. She has collaborated with writer Steve Almond on a novel-in-letters (Which Brings Me to You, Algonquin, 2006). She’s written nonfiction for the New York Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, NPR, and the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Life is Short: Art is Shorter

David Shields & Elizabeth Cooperman
The world of remarkable individuals making moral decisions across a long span of time is often what passes for profundity in literature. Greatness, we in America especially think, has to do with sheer size, with the expansion of materials, but one is entitled to have occasional doubts.