Letters

MFA OR NOT?When I met Randy Boyagoda, I told him that I was pursuing an MFA in fiction and he genially disapproved: “No! Why?” I forget what I answered. But most MFAs, when surveyed, will say, “I want time to write.” Any MFA program worth getting into will give you a reasonable stipend for . . . . Continue Reading »

Putting the Soul in Tune

This is a book about how poetry can save you. More specifically, it is a book about how poetic rhythm can reset the harmony of your body and soul. In his powerful and original reading of Boethius’s Consolation of Philosophy, Stephen Blackwood uncovers a sustained musical therapy during which the imprisoned poet moves from baffled despair at the world’s injustice to contemplative joy over providential order.

Write Away

The most electrifying reading experience I’ve had this past year came 656 pages into Donna Tartt’s recent novel, The Goldfinch. A twenty-first-century young American’s adventure story, its action moves from wealthy Manhattan to Great Recession–era Las Vegas to decadent high-end European . . . . Continue Reading »

Brokenness and Modern Poetry

Readers charged that Kathleen Graber's poetry was “slovenly” and “shapeless.” As the poetry editor of First Things, I thought I’d step in and open a wider discussion of poetry, particularly as it pertains to First Things Continue Reading »

The Writing Life

It is the rare reader of fiction who does not at some time or other consider becoming a writer. It comes and goes over the years for many, and some carry it about forever as an unredeemed promissory note to themselves. In their heart of hearts, they regard themselves as writers. When my first novel . . . . Continue Reading »