The Green Suit

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Once upon a time — September of 1976, to be exact — I went to New York.  I was twenty-three.  I had a diploma from a college in the hills of eastern Tennessee, a school that until my junior year had not admitted women.

A Conversation with William Maxwell

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Interviewer:  You’ve said you learned from E.B. White that the “I” should always be a real character in any piece that you’ve written.  Have you ever had a sense in your writing life that you were flying in the face of current convention, or being old-fashioned, by adhering to that principle?

Maxwell:  I never worried about being old-fashioned because the books I’ve continued to read all my life have been the Russians.  I wanted to write about people, men and women.  What’s old-fashioned about men and women?

Poetry Feature: David Baker

Featuring the poems:

  • Still-Hildreth Sanatorium, 1936
  • For the Others
  • A Recessional
  • The Art of Poetry

Swimming In The Dark

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Life is strange, isn’t it?  A hotel pool in Rome, the china plate of blue water, fifteen other girls in the company-issue swimsuit.  We’re stewardesses from Japan.  Yesterday we went shopping.  Tomorrow, Singapore.

The Twelve Plagues

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When the phone rang, Rosenthal was kicking a canvas to shreds in the middle of his studio.  He’d already thrown a can of wet brushes against the far wall and had kicked a tray of paint across the room, leaving an attractive boat-shaped smear of burnt sienna sailing along the whitewashed floorboards.  The place should have been condemned, and so should Rosenthal:  trapped inside another night of failure in a season of failure, locked in a listless, drifting orbit around a failing sun.

Generations "I": The Future of Autobiographical Poetry

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Robert Lowell, circa 1962 or ’63, is looking at the camera with the sort of fixed intensity that’s displayed in so many of his photos.  He’s wearing the black owlish hornrims which were the uniform of the myopic early sixties, a time when the rose-colored granny glasses of the Byrds’ Roger McGuinn and John Lennon’s oval wirerims, shading acid-dilated pupils, were still unknown.

Foreword: "Comic Fiction"

This foreword is not currently available online.

Poetry Feature: Daniel Halpern

Featuring the poems:

  • Family Reunion
  • Art
  • The Loneliness of Beautiful Women
  • Thaw
  • The Planes
  • Midnight: Triadic Ghazal

The Diary Of Lorenzo Greene

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At the end of May (1930) Woodson suggested that I take a two-week vacation, then come in and talk with him upon my return.  Having completed the study of Negro Employment in the District of Columbia, I was happy to leave for New York.


This essay is not currently available online.

The summer before ninth grade, the summer of 1964, we collected insects.  During most of the summer we assumed termites would be easy to find so we didn’t look very hard for them.  Lepidoptera — butterflies and moths — were not only bigger, flashier and more interesting, they were more fun to catch.