account_circle by Derek Alger

One on One

Lynn Aarti Chandhok

Issue No. 133 ~ June, 2008

"I was always a good writer, but I didn't think I had an imagination. I liked pottery because I understood that if I just practiced over and over again, I could get a form just right...That's really how I started to feel comfortable writing poems -– by trying to attend to form...I think the forms gave me a space to work out what really was there in my imagination."

Mathias B. Freese

Issue No. 133 ~ June, 2008

"...I believe to become a great writer or a very good one the writer must avoid organized teaching. I think like a shrink, a father, a lover, a mensch, but not as a writer. When I come to write, I go inward, very inward, and I allow my unconscious to blast through, often ooze, into awareness; that is how I write."

Afaa Michael Weaver

Issue No. 131 ~ April, 2008

"When I think of sociologists who aspire to be writers, I think of W.E.B. DuBois, whose prose was quite good as we all know. But he was not a poet or a novelist. One day, I hope These Hands I Know will be recognized for what it is, an excellent primary source for people such as sociologists. The book gives a view to the effects of racism on black family life and the effects of child abuse."

Richard Goodman

Issue No. 131 ~ April, 2008

"People I respect very much have liked the book. I sent two chapters to M.F.K. Fisher before she died, and she wrote me back a marvelous letter telling me she liked the writing very much. She said that she didn't like 99% of what had been written about Provence...'But Richard, you have broken the spell'."

David Amram

Issue No. 128 ~ January, 2008

"There's always been a natural relationship, even as a teenager wanting to be a composer, and playing at amateur symphonies, and later at professional symphonies and also playing jazz and accompanying singers, I always realized the words and the music were part of the whole."

Danika Dinsmore

Issue No. 126 ~ November, 2007

"The 3:15 Experiment is another organized "event" that I'm sure I will continue to do for the rest of my life...Since 1993, a shifting menagerie of poets has woken up at 3:15 AM each morning during the month of August to write...Right now, it's where the bulk of my poetry comes from because I don't write much poetry these days."

Robert Dana

Issue No. 122 ~ July, 2007

"Jobs were terribly scarce in the mid-1950's. There were, with the exception of Stanford, no other writing programs out there. Teaching what is now called Creative Writing wasn't an option. And many of the academic teaching jobs had already been snapped up by the preceding generation of GI Bill people with graduate degrees."

Peter Selgin

Issue No. 116 ~ January, 2007

"...I like to draw; I was good at it. I had a prodigious grasp of perspective that let me render things photographically with devilish ease. I was like those autistic wunderkinds ... Only I wasn't autistic..."

Claire Davis

Issue No. 116 ~ January, 2007

"I started writing stories at about eight or nine years of age, as soon as I could reasonably put pen to paper. I'd be frustrated that books I read would end, so I'd pick up and write new endings, or sequels..."

Claire Davis interview

Issue No. 116 ~ January, 2007

"I started writing stories at about eight or nine years of age, as soon as I could reasonably put pen to paper. I'd be frustrated that books I read would end, so I'd pick up and write new endings, or sequels. When I was nine, I read Jack London and realized that that was what I wanted to do with my life. No. More than that, I believed I could do it. And so I was soon making up my own adventures on the page. Of course, looking back, the whole thing seems absolutely improbable, and I can't help but wonder what it is in us that defies commonsense and says, instead, 'You can do this'."

Richard Beban

Issue No. 109 ~ June, 2006

"I believe that poets have always been shamans, griots, storytellers, seers, sorceresses, since long before writing, and that it's our duty to continue that tradition, no matter what culture we find ourselves born into. If we have been born with the gift, it is our responsibility to use it for the benefit of the tribe speaking truth to power, turning our visions into art to the best of our abilities."

Gladys Swan

Issue No. 106 ~ March, 2006

"Like many kids I tried writing little poems and stuff, but it was my eighth grade spelling teacher who sent me on my way. She assigned us the task of making a story out of the week's spelling words and then read mine to the class. After that, I knew I wanted to be a writer."

Duff Brenna

Issue No. 100 ~ September, 2005

"When I was sixteen or so I wrote a tale about an Egyptian slave. I called him Brute. He was influenced by Conan the Barbarian, God help me, but I wrote this thing out and read it to my mother and sister. They weren't impressed."

Denise Duhamel

Issue No. 100 ~ September, 2005

"While my parents weren't big readers, they were good at story-telling. My great great grandmother was a "Lady" in Scotland and lived in a castle, but threw it all away to marry the gardner, so the story goes. I was intrigued by stories like that as well as fairy tales and Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden."

Diana Joseph

Issue No. 96 ~ May, 2005

One of my writing teachers, Michael Martone, wrote this hilarious little brochure called "Rx," which was a list of "rules" for writing. I remember one rule was "You can never say too little about the color of a character's eyes."

Sven Birkerts

Issue No. 96 ~ May, 2005

For a very long time, from about 1973 until the mid-1980s, bookstores were right at the center of my life -- my employment, my social life, and the mill for my reading and writing obsessions. I had bookstores instead of grad-school.

Steve Heller interview

Issue No. 93 ~ February, 2005

When I asked my father what he thought of my first published novel, he said, "Well, I guess some of that could of happened. And don't forget to bring back the chainsaw next time you're home."

Bruce Jay Friedman

Issue No. 89 ~ October, 2004

"I'd had a bad experience with the food at a Chinese restaurant. That got me thinking about death and mortality."

Alex Steele

Issue No. 87 ~ August, 2004

"I began my writing career as a playwright, which is not the best career in which to make a living (understatement of the century)."

Caren Lissner

Issue No. 86 ~ July, 2004

The "chick lit" genre didn't really exist 5 years ago, but now publishers are realizing that books about single women trying to figure out their post-college decisions are doing well.

Dan Wakefield

Issue No. 83 ~ April, 2004

In the 50s we were told that to be a good writer you had to be a good drinker. It did a lot of people in. We thought Dylan Thomas dying at 39 was glamorous and romantic.

Stephen Koch

Issue No. 83 ~ April, 2004

I find little point in giving advice that isn't crystal clear. It's hard enough to write well, without having to first divine the meaning of some perplexing Delphic utterance from Stephen K.

Richard Cumyn

Issue No. 81 ~ February, 2004

"I became intrigued with the idea of writing a fictional account of a scientist and poet joining forces to solve a great archaeological puzzle - locating the Garden of Eden."

Matthew Lippman

Issue No. 81 ~ February, 2004

A Pushcart nominee and Best American Poetry alum, Matt Lippman talks about teaching poetry to high school students, how his grandma got him a job at Columbia , and the challenge of having too much free time to write.

Interview with Nikki Moustaki

Issue No. 75 ~ August, 2003

Derek talks with the author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Writing Poetry and the Cliffnotes for George Orwell's 1984 about writing for money, workshops and the poetic self.

Gordon Weaver

Issue No. 73 ~ June, 2003

I can't count the number of times I have heard accomplished writers who also teach say you can't teach creative writing. That's absurd.

From the Editor

Another chance encounter

Issue No. 131 ~ April, 2008

It turned out that Ann and her husband Dan Becker, own Becker's Books, where dark, sturdy bookcases can be found along over 30 corridors of shelving. Ann said the operation currently has a stock of 250,000 or so titles of used books ready to go.

Interconnecting Decades at the annual AWP Conference

Issue No. 128 ~ January, 2008

"I was at David Amram's farm in Putnam County the other Sunday, and ... he talked almost non-stop about the people he had known over the years, not in a name dropping sense, but more as a natural part of the vivid narrative of his life, and then what he thought of the way things are today, never with bitterness, but always with an ever onward exuberance of well, where do you want to go from here?"

Robert Phelps: My first guide to writing fiction

Issue No. 126 ~ November, 2007

"'Why do you think we write?' Phelps once asked me... "...I rambled on about truth and meaning and whatever one tries to discern out of life and the human experience. "Phelps smiled, raised his head across the table from me, and simply said, 'We write cause we're scared shitless'."

Beneath the Surface

Issue No. 123 ~ August, 2007

"As I read Bigger Than Life, I was immersed on two levels, Lenney's story, and then also my identification, my associate feelings about similar emotions which were triggered by what Lenney went through."

Forget About the Gaps

Issue No. 116 ~ January, 2007

"...I remembered many so-called do's and don'ts of resumes, but in reality, I'm not sure any truly applied in real life experience. Still, what do I know, I'm not sure I ever made it past a human resources department in my life to get on to the next stage in the hierarchical interviewing process, forget about actually getting the job."

Introductory Ramblings

Issue No. 109 ~ June, 2006

"I wasn't going to write anything but a friend of mine – a real writer, at least in terms of publication, with five novels to his credit – told me that I should, that I should take advantage of the opportunity to let people know more about me as I continue with my efforts to keep PIF going and making it even better."


Different Turns

Issue No. 128 ~ January, 2008

"Denny had risen from the streets of Jersey City to become a successful merchandiser in the garment industry in Manhattan, until he became too rapacious, cut too many corners and the inevitable first indictment came."

Book Lovers

Mysteries of My Father

Issue No. 100 ~ September, 2005

With the style of a novelist, which he is, and in a compelling narrative voice, Fleming traces the paths of his two sets of grandparents, the eventual meeting and coming together of his parents, and then the painful years of his childhood


The New Cottage

Issue No. 86 ~ July, 2004

The cabin was different, the location the same, and the blue water of Ontario spread out from the dock to a slender row of weeds and out beyond to the other shore where the green woods blended behind the sands of the beach.