Eleanor Stanford: the Clarity of Memory

Excerpt from Superstition Review:

I needed clarity, and the only way I knew to seek clarity was to write.

***

Maybe it wasn’t clarity that I needed, though. Maybe it was simply to tell my story, dust-obscured, deep-throated wail that it was. What I’d wanted all along was to put the island where I’d lived for two years on a common map.

For the full, read here.

Sarah Lawrence-Lightfoot on the Weight of Exits

Interview excerpted from the LA Review of Books:

There are lots of reasons why exits are hard. Society is so preoccupied with launchings and entrances and moving forward and meeting the next opportunity and tilting toward the future, which take our attention away from departures and leave takings. So we tend to interpret those leave takings as regressions, as failures, as negative spaces in our life journey. We associate the feeling brought on by exits with not doing very well.

***

Missing the exit is to miss at least half the story. When my doctoral students come in — they’re 35, they’re smart, they’re focused, they’re critical — they like to begin by telling me what they want to do, what will be their next steps. I always say, “What are you leaving?” That, to me, is a better marker to understand them.

Read the full here.

John Warner On the Short Story

Excerpt from the Chicago Tribune:

Our digital devices are interruption machines, not vehicles for intense connection. If anything, short stories endure despite these obstacles.Reading a great story is like being put under a short but intense spell — a sensation I treasure. But if people were really after something quickly read and genuinely felt, we’d be in the midst of a poetry boom.

For the full, read here.

Kay Ryan’s Fairy Gift

Interview excerpted from the Paris Review:

A poem is an empty suitcase that you can never quit emptying.

***

People have trouble with my work because they want to say it’s humorous the way Billy Collins’s poetry is humorous, and that it’s witty. But there’s something else, this cartoony thing. When I read my poems to any audience there’s a lot of laughing, but I always warn them that it’s a fairy gift and will turn scary when they get it home.

Read the full here.

William Maxwell: The Landscape of Writing

Interview excerpt from the Paris Review:

Autobiography is simply the facts, but imagination is the landscape in which the facts take place, and the way that everything moves.

***

I just hang over the typewriter waiting to see what is going to happen. It begins with the very first sentence. I don’t will the sentence to come; I wait, as actively passive as I can possibly be. For some reason the phrase “Once upon a time” seems to be essential. Then, if I am sufficiently trusting, the rest of the story follows, and the last sentence is straight from the first.

For the full, read here.

Linda Gregerson: The Pun-Ish Potential of Language

Excerpt from LA Review of Books:

Gregerson loves the pun-ish potential of language, the way the entangled accidents of time, circumstance, want, and will make meaning possible, and she frequently builds a poem around the unlikely marriages a single word makes. If the characteristic unit of much poetry is metaphor — the discovery of underlying likeness in seemingly unlike things — Gregerson is just as likely to turn that on its head, rhyming essentially unlike things based on surface likenesses. It’s a model of the ways in which she seems to love the world: not for what it hides but what it shows.

***

Gregerson has made the activity of her thinking into the driving force behind the language she uses, writing after clarity rather than for heft.

Read the full here.

Amy Boesky: The Ghost Writes Back

Excerpt from the Kenyon Review:

Your task, my thesis advisor in Oxford told my tutorial partner and me, is to be original. Your thesis won’t pass otherwise.I haunted the bookshops, certain my argument had already been written. Afraid to ask him: is original the same thing as different? As important, or relevant, or even good?

***

How did I know that every word I ghost wrote wasn’t depleting my creative arsenal? What if you’re only born with so many words, and you use up the ones you’ve been allotted on writing somebody else’s stories? Then what?

For the full, read here.