Author Archive

Tracing Literary Family Trees: An Interview with Mark Wunderlich

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Mark Wunderlich is a poet from the Midwest living in Hudson Valley, teaching at Bennington College. He’s received many fellowships, including those from the National Endowment for the Arts, the MacDowell Colony, and the Bread Loaf Writers Conference. Megan Mayhew Bergman interviewed him for Ploughshares on craft, place, and essential

Other People’s Paperbacks

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I have outlined here before the likelihood of writers finding value in old objects, as to me, there is something storied in a weathered possession. I make no exceptions for other people’s paperbacks. Give me your tattered Jane Eyre or marked-up Cather. Your well loved or out of print.

An Interview with Jennine Capo Crucet

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I first met Jennine on the dance floor in a barn on a summer night at Breadloaf. Or at least I like to remember it that way. She’s an electric person, both in the flesh and on the page. She says the unexpected, and also the uncomfortable and necessary. She’s

10 Inspiring Books on Women’s Lives

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I never tire of learning about other women’s lives and how they were forged.  How does one construct a passionate life?  Or articulate the way one survives the throes of it?  What art can be made from mess?  My first two books circled these questions in different ways, and

Letter to Our Daughters: Do Not Be Good

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Dear Girls, I’ve come to believe that an author’s material arrives in the form of obsession, a need for the close and uncomfortable scrutiny of an idea. Last year I finished writing a book about women who weren’t traditionally “good.” I dedicated it to you. You might wonder why.

Artistry is a Kind of Citizenship – Ploughshares Interviews Allan Gurganus

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I’ve been aware of Allan Gurganus since I was a few years old; we hail from the same small town, Rocky Mount, North Carolina, and his books lined the shelves of homes I visited, and the local library. Turns out his name was also in the New Yorker, and


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I always knew that if I made it to Paris, one of the first places I’d go would be Rue Jacob, the former residence of Natalie Barney, a place that when I first read about it, inspired me as almost no other place had done. In fact, I can

Tidy This: An Imagined Conversation with a Popular Tidying Expert

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We walk into my bedroom, where the Tidying Expert senses immediately that I have too many books. The term “book hoarder” is on the tip of her tongue. She wears a fresh mint-green cardigan and peers menacingly over a clipboard. “We’ll start by putting the books in the center

Blood Memory

“There is only one of you in all time; this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost.”—Martha Graham Dance was my first foray into art, and I studied it for sixteen years with the kind

The Power of Predation in Literature

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I woke to find the cougar curled at the foot of my bed. Or, at least, I thought I did. I accidentally bumped the sleeping cat with my foot. He rose with a gleam in his eye, arched his back in a dramatic stretch. Heat emanated from his hyper-muscular