Letters

Poets & Writers Magazine welcomes letters from its readers. Please post a comment on select articles at www.pw.org/magazine, e-mail editor@pw.org, or write to Editor, Poets & Writers Magazine, 90 Broad Street, Suite 2100, New York, NY 10004. Letters accepted for publication may be edited for clarity and length.

WHY WE WRITE
After reading “The Secret Lives of Stories: Rewriting Our Personal Narratives” by Frank Bures (January/February 2013), it struck me inspiration spreadthat there are different answers to the question, Why write? Why do we write at all if we are most likely doomed to fail to reach our  expectations in the eyes of the world? Of course I’d like to write great poetry that will be remembered always, but that is not why I need and love to write. I don’t write for publication or for recognition or for “success.” That is all very nice, but ultimately I write to understand my life. I write about the inside so that I can live through my difficulties by creating art. I am a writer, and it is a spiritual practice. Having another full-time job can take time away from being a writer, but anything else I do—whether it is being a mother or a teacher—only adds to the richness of what I can express when I am writing.
Excerpted from a comment posted on pw.org/magazine by Casesarasara

AN INSPIRED NEW YEAR
The January/February 2013 Inspiration Issue was exactly what I needed. The morning I sat down to read it, I had just written a New Year’s entry on my blog that looked back at the highs and lows of the past year, during which I self-published my first novel. While there were some great highs, the lows left me discouraged. Then I saw the cover lines about self-publishing and DIY book tours, so I turned to those stories and read them first. I’m so glad I did. Although my book is fiction, I related to most of the great points by Reagan Upshaw (“Reality Check: A Simple Self-Publishing Plan”) about why poets shouldn’t fear self-publishing, and I immediately started to feel better about my own decision. And while I have no publisher, publicist, or any possibility of hiring an assistant and hitting the road on a multistate self-styled book tour, reading Ron Tanner’s “The DIY Author Tour: How to Sell a Book in America” gave me great ideas that I can use to set up author events closer to home and left me invigorated to try new approaches. I was so fired up that I sat down and brainstormed a list of bookstores, groups, and offerings so that I can renew my outreach. Thanks for helping me kick off 2013 on such a positive note.
Diane Mulligan
Worcester, Massachusetts

I thought Tanner’s article was the best piece I’ve ever read in Poets & Writers Magazine. Tanner’s cross-country tour sounded like an ordeal, but one he had to go through; the only thing missing was the real payoff, and for writers that payoff must come in the form of people who tell you that your work has changed their lives. This is a hard criterion, but any writer worth her salt wants it, works for it, and, if she works hard enough, will get it. The real question is, How do you find these readers, and how will they find you? I think Tanner successfully and honestly answered as much of that as he could—and I just know that when it happens, all of this will be worth the effort.
Perry Brass
New York, New York

IN THE DETAILS
I appreciated “The Heart and the Eye: How Description Can Access Emotion” by J. T. Bushnell (January/February 2013). The detailed descriptions—showing, not just telling—fired me up to use much more description in my writing and consider how that may emotionally impact my readers. 
Gerald Bauer
Huron, Ohio

Current Issue

Cover Story 

Our Independent Publishing Issue features an in-depth interview with Graywolf Press editor Jeff Shotts; a look at the successful partnerships of eleven small-press authors and their editors; a profile of indie essayist Charles D'Ambrosio; Donald Hall recalls a golden age of American poetry; best-selling author Miranda Beverly-Whittemore on the rewards of self-promotion; advice for self-published authors; a conversation with Guernica publisher Lisa Lucas; and much more.

Finding Gems in Lost & Found

by Rebecca Bates

News and Trends

Posted 10.15.14

November/December 2014

The Center for Humanities at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York City is making the ephemeral more tangible through its Lost & Found chapbook series.

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Let's Just Do This: Eleven Small-Press Authors and their Publishing Partners

by Kevin Larimer

Special Section

Posted 10.15.14

November/December 2014

Eleven small-press authors and their publishing partners discuss the independent approach—and all the passion, commitment, and love that comes with it—to bringing books into the world.

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Agents & Editors: Jeff Shotts

by Michael Szczerban

Special Section

Posted 10.15.14

November/December 2014

Graywolf Press executive editor Jeff Shotts discusses the power of patience in publishing, editing as an act of empathy, and why it’s an exciting time to be a poet.

More