For a while now, David Schuman, a fiction writer and the director of the Creative Writing MFA program at Washington University in St. Louis, has been interested in--what he calls--"the Void." The Void can also be thought of as the ineffable quality of art, the thing too great to be expressed in words, or as a musical score, or even with paint or clay, but that is felt nonetheless. Call it what you will, David wrestles with the unnamable and calls upon other writers and artists who have shared his fascination with the Void.
Today, we consider the memoir. Kathleen Finneran, a writer in residence at Washington University in St. Louis, talks about her memoir The Tender Land: A Family Love Story, which focuses on her family and how their lives were altered by the suicide of her younger brother. She considers how writing the book affected her grieving process and chronicles her family's surprising reaction to the book.
Writing is hard. Sometimes when writing fiction, the narrative's momentum sputters to a stop. Charles Baxter, a fiction writer and essayist, shares six quick and dirty plot devices to increase the sense of urgency and keep a story moving forward before talking about the narratives he returns to in his own work.
"Essay," as a verb, means to attempt or try, and comes from "assay" which is to examine something in order to determine its nature. And for essayist Dinty Moore, this is what nonfiction is all about. Having written several books on life and writing, he discusses the role of voice and persona in nonfiction, the slipperiness of memory, and the true vocation of the essay-writer.
How do you make a poem? Renowned poet Carl Phillips finds inspiration for his work in even the every day moments of his life. In this re-release of a 2013 interview, Phillips shares his writing process, discusses his (then) latest poetry collection Silverchest, and imparts his personal antidote to poetry.