May/Summer 2007

The God Damndest Thing: Learning From Richard Yates

Martin Naparsteck
One conversation we had was about the possibility that consuming bad stories, whether from movies or television, or reading bad novels, was a useful way to learn to write. The idea was that if you were able to figure out why a story is bad you could avoid it in your own writing.

Adventures in Philanthropy & the Pantheon of American Poetries

D.W. Fenza
The poetry critic David Orr became the avenger of the Poetry Foundation in March, when the New York Times Book Review published Orr's attack on the New Yorker. Orr's piece, "Annals of Poetry," was something like a Rube Goldberg device of convoluted pneumatic tubes-one tube blowing darts at New Yorker staffers Dana Goodyear and Alice Quinn; one tube playing dour and flatulent tuba music; and one tube blowing kisses to the Poetry Foundation.

An Interview with Charles Wright

Thomas Di Salvo
Charles Wright was born in Pickwick Dam, Tennessee in 1935, and was educated at Davidson College and the University of Iowa. Chickamauga, his eleventh collection of poems, won the 1996 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize. His other books include Buffalo Yoga (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2004); Negative Blue (2000); Appalachia (1998); Black Zodiac (1997), which won the Pulitzer Prize and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize; The World of the Ten Thousand Things: Poems 1980-1990; Zone Journals (1988); Country Music: Selected Early Poems (1983), which won the National Books Award; Hard Freight (1973), which was nominated for the National Book Award; and two volumes of criticism: Halflife (1988) and Quarter Notes (1995).

Revealing Your Characters: An Interview with Steve Almond

Sherry Ellis
Steve Almond is the author of two collections of short stories, The Evil B.B. Chow and Other Stories and My Life in Heavy Metal, andthe bittersweet and humorous Candyfreak: A Journey Through the Chocolate Underbelly of America, a memoirist ode to the origin of the candy bar, which he wrote during a relatively lean period in his fiction writing career. Which Brings Me to You: A Novel in Confessions, which Almond co-wrote with the novelist Julianna Baggott was published in the Spring of 2006 by Algonquin. His next book, a collection of essays called Not That You Asked, will be published by Random House in September. Almond writes about passion, sex, and heartbreak, and has been dubbed the poet laureate of sex. He believes that having an agent can interfere with the artistic process, and has not had one for most of his career.

Writing on the Brink: Peripheral Vision and the Personal Poem

Renée Ashley
f a good personal poem is, as I believe it must be, a thing in motion, a thing on its way to some place that beckons or threatens, then Toad has it right. Look closely at what he has to say. He's talking about poetry.

An Interview with Lynne Sharon Schwartz

Niloufar Talebi
Lynne Sharon Schwartz is the author of seven novels and three short story collections. She was nominated for the National Book Award for First Novel, the PEN/Hemingway First Novel Award, and the PEN/Faulkner Award. Leaving Brooklyn, which was nominated for a Pen/Faulkner Award in 1990, will be reissued in September by Hawthorne Books. Her next book, in October 2007, will be an anthology of interviews and essays that she has edited, The Emergence of Memory: Conversations with W.G. Sebald, published by Seven Stories Press. She has also successfully tried her pen at nonfiction, poetry, and translation, the latter of which won her the 1991 PEN Renato Poggioli Award for her translation from Italian of Liana Millu's Smoke Over Birkenau. Schwartz has been awarded grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the New York State Foundation for the Arts. She has taught at writing programs throughout the United States and abroad, and is presently on the faculty of the Bennington Writing Seminars. Her work has appeared in The Best American Short Stories, The Best American Essays, the O. Henry Prize Stories, and many other anthologies.