Lit from Within
Contemporary Masters on the Art and Craft of Writing
Publication Year: 2011
Lit from Within offers creative writers a window into the minds of some of America’s most celebrated contemporary authors. Witty, direct, and thought-provoking, these essays offer something to creative writers of all backgrounds and experience. With contributions from fiction writers, poets, and nonfiction writers, this is a collection of unusual breadth and quality.
Published by: Ohio University Press
Title Page, Copyright Page
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This anthology would never have been possible without the generosity of the authors who have allowed their work to be reprinted here and the countless people over the past twenty-five years who have given support, assistance, attention, and care to Ohio University’s Spring Literary Festival. ...
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This book has its origins in the Ohio University Spring Literary Festival, a remarkable yearly gathering of some of the nation’s most talented and celebrated writers here in this most rural corner of Ohio. The university brings them here, but the event is not only for the campus—for its entire twenty-fiveyear history, ...
The Wrong Answer
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A few years ago I began receiving e-mail queries about my story “the ordinary son,” which had appeared in The Best American Short Stories. They were obviously from students, and they all posed the same question: “I was wondering what theme you had in mind when you wrote the story.” I answered the first student truly that I ...
Confessions of a Navel Gazer
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When I was in graduate school in the 1980s my friends and I used to classify writers into two types: windows and mirrors. The mirrors were the poets, writers of reflection and meditation. The fiction writers were the windows, writers who looked out on the wide world and wrote about what they saw. ...
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Channel surfing one night, I watched the last twenty minutes of a made-for-TV movie about a small-town girl who gets pregnant and gives up her baby and leaves her boyfriend. Decades later she is reunited with the baby’s father when the baby (a grown man, minister, about to become a father himself) locates his parents ...
The Myth of Craft: Thoughts on the Writing of Poetry
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Flaubert, or someone like that (you can tell this is going to be a scholarly presentation), said that the adjective is the enemy of the noun. The writer falsely believes that the noun by itself, standing alone, will not suffice. The poor noun has been standing naked all these years—centuries, really—waiting for the writer to come along and put ...
Only Collect: Something about the Short Story Collection
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I was chatting to another parent outside my son’s preschool, recently, while we waited for our kids to come out. I was alone, she had another child, a girl of about seven or eight, twisting and twirling at the end of her hand. ...
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It’s late at night, and you are quarreling with someone on the telephone, long distance. You have reached a stalemate of sorts, where nothing remains To be said. You cannot hang up. But you cannot say anything More. So you remain on the line. Neither of you utters a word. A moment like this stirs the air with an odd and ...
Thirteen Things I Hate about Poetry
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You wrote this essay for me, reader—thanks! What I’m going to present to you is a series of questions or propositions about poetry offered to me over the years. We begin a few years ago when a professor from one of the sciences greets me by saying that it must be nice to be in a field where one ...
Some Questions about Questions
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This essay will be characterized by its lack of identifiable focus, internal transitions, and conclusion, for my goal is not to posit anything in particular, but rather to present my ongoing, ever-expanding web of personal speculation on the topic of questions in poetry. ...
The Poem, Its Buried Subject, and the Revisionist Reader: Behind “The Guardian Angel”
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To revisit an old poem of yours is often to come to it as an interested stranger. By degree, you’re more reader than author, and like all readers you bring to the poem an aesthetic and a psychology forged by personal history and your history of reading. If twenty years have elapsed since you’ve written a poem about ...
Thirteen Things about the Contemporary Short Story That Really Hack Me Off
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In the early ’80s, I stumbled upon The Secret Life of Our Times, a volume of short stories edited by the infamous Gordon Lish when he was the literary editor at Esquire, indisputably one of the most influential periodicals of that and any period. It included stories by such heavyweights as Marquez, Carver, DeLillo, and so on ...
Litany, Gamesmanship, and Representation: Charting the Old to the New Poetry
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As american poets and poetry readers, we find ourselves in the midst of the third wave of poetic modernism, when American poetry is exploding into a galaxy of formal experiment and innovation. All manner of things drift under the poetic sun, from diction-saturated abcdarium poems to fragmentary metaphysical minimalism. ...
All That Is the Case: Some Thoughts on Fact in Nonfiction and Documentary Poetry
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By “fact” I mean, variously, those bits of world and word that derive from research, observation, and/or sensory perception. This last gets complicated if you choose to include what Jonathan Edwards deemed our sixth sense, “the sense of the heart”—that is, the spiritual sense Edwards deemed as empirically rooted ...
A Poem of Character
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In a collection of essays meant to celebrate a long-lived literary festival that has featured both poetry and fiction, it seems appropriate to offer some comments about a kind of poem that comes closest to fiction, one that makes its central concern the presenting of a character whose life is separate from ...
Good Fortune Befell Me: Notes on the Writer/Editor Relationship
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The best advice I can give to beginning writers is to read as much as you can. This is hardly original advice, nor is the complementary counsel to write as much as you can. Those two braids can take you far; can lead to great growth on their own. But if you are fortunate enough to encounter a good editor to help reflect and ...
Someone Reading a Book Is a Sign of Order in the World
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When I was twenty-five I began to keep a monthly list of the books I had read. Over time it became obvious that although some months I didn’t read at all, and other months I read eight or nine books, on the average I read five books a month, or sixty books a year. Assuming this was more or less true from ...
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Publication Year: 2011