May/Summer 2005 Cover Image

Poetry Writing Instruction and the Forgotten Art of Memory

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Tom C. Hunley
I hear the groans at the start of every semester when I tell my students that I'll be expecting them to memorize thirty, forty, or fifty lines of published poetry in addition to memorizing works of their own before a semester-ending class reading.
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Stand Back

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Debra Spark
My younger brother is safely ensconced in middle age, but he remains attached to the torments he devised as a child. At least the ones he devised for me. So it's not uncommon to find his nose two centimeters from my own, his mouth behind it grinning like some demon jack-in-the-box, as he says, "Am I in your space, Derba?" "Am. I. In. Your. Space?"
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Taking Back Our Literature

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Michael C. White
Recently at a conference, I went out to dinner with four very pleasant people who, as I do, teach literature at the university level. After touching on various subjects-mostly shop talk about teaching, how busy we all were, the abysmal state of freshman papers, and our students' complete lack of interest in reading-we turned to what I've found groups of academics often fall back on in a pinch, confident of its universality: films.
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Clich├ęs in Contemporary Poetry

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John Poch
Screaming and crying. We're big babies, aren't we? Poets, I mean. All the wailing and crying you can muster won't get any sympathy from a good reader (or a good editor). The impulse to scream is easily understood. As poets, we want to be heard, and it seems no one's listening. But are our screams made of words or are they vowels alone? The hard truth: screaming pushes people in the other direction; we lean into a whisper. However, if you must-holler, howl, or even yawp, but enough with the screaming. A
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The Truth About Biography

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Ronald Goldfarb
The reactions to biographer Norman Sherry's three volume biography of Graham Greene-a thirty-year biographical odyssey by an author who was chosen by his subject and published by Viking here in the US-raise some fascinating authorial questions. Applauded by reviewers in the United States ("incomparable," "invaluable," "masterly," "magnificent," "an indispensable companion to the work of a major modern writer"), Sherry's work was criticized in the UK press, and damned by Greene's family and literary executor.
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My Name Is Bill

Susan Cheever
When Frank Shaw wrote expressing concern about Bill's drinking, Bill characteristically fired off a letter from Havana promising never to drink again. He did that a lot in those days.
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Psalm and Lament: Reading Donald Justice's Collected Poems

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Eric Pankey
In an essay, "On the Purity of Style," Donald Justice writes, "I begin to understand how a critic like [Ivor] Winters can argue that the brief lyric may be greater than a complete tragedy, since the lyric can hope for perfection, an unflawed wholeness and unity." Given that the brief lyric is the dominant mode in Justice's opus, and that as a lyric writer Justice aims for and achieves wholeness and unity, it seems odd that he was ever just beginning to understand Winters's notion.
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An Interview with Susan Cheever

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Roberta Brown Root
I think the purpose of memoir, the same as the purpose of novel or any other writing, is to enlighten. It is to bring light where there is darkness.
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An Interview with Chang-rae Lee

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Sarah Anne Johnson
I had a weekly forum for the chapters of my novel. I quickly learned that you have to leave a lot of the suggestions on the table, but it was great to hear the range of responses to the work. It was a wonderful time for me to have a respite from everything.

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