March/April 2013

On Convention

Margot Singer
For many years now, the conversation about creative nonfiction has focused almost exclusively on questions of definition and legitimacy. What is this thing we’re writing? We can’t even settle comfortably on a name. Tacking the word “creative” or “literary” or “narrative” in front of “nonfiction” feels defensive or pretentious or redundant or all three. “Essay” conjures the specter of the term paper, “article” connotes journalism, “belles-lettres” is lovely but no one can pronounce it, “memoir” is too limiting, and plain “nonfiction” is too big.

An Interview with Kim Barnes

Andrew McFadyen-Ketchum
I do love the idea of being on the cusp of change. I love being in places where certain things are becoming anachronistic. And truly—and this is an American romanticization in a way—my family’s experience was an adventure. It was another frontier.

Poetic Housing: Shifting Parts & Changing Wholes

Tony Hoagland
One of my fiction writer friends says that, in the process of working on a novel, his minor characters are always threatening to become major characters, and that his major character is always threatening to become a minor character. In other words, the process of storytelling is a seething, fermenting, somewhat unstable business.

Balancing Craft & Commitment: Writing Political Fiction

Rosellen Brown, Tracy Daugherty, & Ellen Meeropol
When I asked my graduate school class recently who among them had read George Orwell’s “Politics and the English Language,” I discovered that this significant, even obligatory, essay no longer seems present to students the way it did to me a generation (or two) ago: To my surprise and dismay, not a single hand went up. So, perhaps as a belated introduction, I must invoke the voice of this writer who has been one of the guiding spirits of anyone who writes anything committed to—or in search of—social justice.

Consociational Poetics: An Interview with Anne Waldman

Renée Olander
What has been steady is a curiosity about the efficacies and power of language and making my own poetry that wants to stay kinetic, responding to a number of realities as I witness and experience them.

Homo Sapiens vs. Homo Fictus Or Why a Lot of Knowledge Can Be a Dangerous Thing Too

David Jauss
If you’re one of those people who has been worried sick over why Hamlet is so doggone indecisive, you can stop worrying. The eminent scientist Jacob Bronowski has given us the answer. It turns out that Hamlet’s fatal indecision isn’t due to moral scruples, madness, an unresolved Oedipal complex, or any of the myriad explanations that literary scholars have inflicted on us over the centuries; rather, it’s the result of his brain’s underdeveloped frontal lobes.

An Interview with Gerald Stern

Dean Young
You are a poet who has demonstrated resourcefulness and range of poetic expression, whose work gives me faith that there is nothing that language can say or represent or feel that can’t be in poetry—why write in prose?