“Eleven years later, the Atlantic Monthly editor, Thomas Wentworth Higginson, made a similar request to an obscure, retiring poet named Emily Dickinson who had written a letter asking if her verses ‘breathed.’ Her response was much like Melville’s, if typically elliptical: ‘Could you believe me—without? I had no portrait, now, but am small, like the Wren, and my Hair is bold, like the Chestnut Bur—and my eyes, like the Sherry in the Glass, that the Guest leaves—Would this do just as well?'” The age-old problem: how writers deal with publicity.
David Orr writes for The New York Times about Christopher Gilbert’s new collection of poems, Turning Into Dwelling, and the importance of innovation in poetry. As he puts it, “One of the hidden strengths of art is that there is always the possibility that what had seemed like a final breath may simply be the long pause before a new inhalation.” Pair with Andrew Kay’s Millions essay on the power of poetry.
“Maybe everything is an organized mess at high speed”: in one of the more deeply buried leads in history, Brad Listi announces The Nervous Breakdown‘s new publishing imprint. And yes, I could just send you to the official press release, but I loved this piece.
In an illuminating interview for Slate, James Wood revises his opinion on David Foster Wallace and discusses how aging can change critics. As he puts it, “At exactly the moment that I wanted really to write, and started writing poems and then trying to write bad fiction, I was reading with a view to learning stuff. I was reading poetry. How did Auden do his stanza forms? And I was trying to copy those. What’s a successful poem, what’s an unsuccessful poem? […] What’s a good sentence? I don’t think I’ve changed. I am as sincerely interested in novels that fail as I am in novels that succeed. I just want to work them out. It’s a pleasure for me actually.” Top it off with Jonathan Russell Clark’s essay on Wood’s The Nearest Thing to Life.
“This is worth repeating to yourself every day as you sit down at your keyboard: You must write to the end of the story. You must make progress toward that end today. A sentence, a paragraph, a chapter. You must push the story forward, forward, forward. Don’t stop until you get to the end.” Hugh Howey on the Amazon Author Insights blog about how to write a rough draft. Pair with a popular and wonderfully motivating piece by Nick Ripatrazone, “Don’t Worry. Don’t Wait. Write.”