September 2002

Ghost Writing

Barbara Feinman Todd

The night before I was to teach the first class in a course on literary voice at Johns Hopkins University, I had an anxiety dream. In it, I was about to introduce myself to my new students when the door swung open and a stranger burst into the room and strode up to the podium. "Hello class, my name is Barbara Feinman... " I interrupted her and demanded to know what she thought she was doing. I was Barbara Feinman. The students looked from one of us to the other, bemused. Finally, I took out my driver's license to prove my identity, then called security to have the imposter removed.


Poetry and Survival

Gregory Orr

Last year's catastrophic terrorist attacks and their continuing aftermath have had an enormous emotional impact on large segments of the American public. Confusion, grief, rage, and a sense of vulnerability have overwhelmed significant numbers of individuals, and they have sought different means of coming to terms with their experience. Among other responses, many sought clarity and consolation in the reading or writing of poems. Perhaps that should surprise us, perhaps not. But what concerns me is that the explanations for this almost instinctive turning to poetry are seldom understood or articulated in a way that makes the appropriateness of the impulse as clear and obvious as it could be.


Six Editor-Publishers Speak Out on Poetry's Current Situation

Marie Jordan

Three weeks after the attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center I interviewed six editor/publishers of independent poetry presses to discuss their thoughts, experience, and hopes for the future of poetry in America. The current war, bombings, Anthrax and germ terrorism, stock market crisis, and national attitude may all play into the need for and the relevance of poetry in the marketplace. I asked these editors and publishers who deal with the business of literature and poetry every day of the week how our current national and world situation affects the reading, writing, selling, and buying of poetry.


A Lion in his Skin: An Interview with Michael Ondaatje

Alan Soldofsky

Canadian writer Michael Ondaatje has published 11 books of poetry, four novels, and a memoir. Born in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) in 1943 of Dutch/Indian parentage, he was raised in London and has lived in Toronto since 1962. Though he made his initial reputation as a poet, Ondaatje has earned international acclaim as a novelist for his books Coming Through Slaughter (1982); In the Skin of a Lion (1987); The English Patient (1992), winner of the U.K.'s Booker Prize, and which was later made into an Academy Award-winning motion picture; and Anil's Ghost (1999), his most recent novel, set in the early '90s during the height of the brutal Sri Lankan civil war. He is also the author of a poetically constructed memoir, Running in the Family, a book that examines the lives of his eccentric, mixed Dutch-colonial and Sinhalese extended family in the former Ceylon.


An Interview with Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Sarah Anne Johnson

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is the author of the bestselling novels The Vine of Desire, The Mistress of Spices, and Sister of My Heart, the story collections The Unknown Errors of Our Lives and Arranged Marriage, which received several awards, including the American Book Award, and four collections of prize-winning poetry. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, Ms., Best American Short Stories 1999, and other publications. Born in India, Divakaruni lives in the San Francisco area.