Writing Path 1: An Annual of Poetry and Prose from Writers Conferences

Michael Pettit, Editor
Michael Pettit, Editor University of Iowa Press $15.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-87745-509-7
Reviewed on: 05/01/1995
Release date: 05/01/1995
Hardcover - 223 pages - 978-0-87745-508-0
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Though it claims to ``tackle a problem that plagues the beginning writer: name recognition,'' this first in an anthology series is really just an excuse to publish more of the fiction and poetry generated at writers' conferences proliferating from coast to coast. That's not to say that the collection lacks merit, only that the premise doesn't live up to its promise: juxtaposing the work of established writers with that of their students is less a method for tackling a problem than it is a book-packaging gimmick. That said, there is some fine work here, most of it from the poets, who outnumber the fiction writers nearly two to one. ``Little raccoon face aloat in the stars'' is how Patricia Kirkpatrick of the Napa Valley Writers' Conference describes the face of a fetus in ``Ultrasound,'' while her teacher, Jane Hirshfield portrays a blue heron sleeping ``with his long neck/ folded, like a letter/ put away.'' Anita Coleman of The Ropewalk Writers' Retreat takes the reader to a cemetery where ``the headstones line up--RIP RIP RIP.'' Ultimately, what emerges more than a sense that students are influenced by teachers is that writers at conferences tend to produce poetry that explores the relationship between nature and the human condition, and fiction that focuses on dysfunctional families. Which is an interesting premise, all by itself. (June)
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