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BECAUSE YOU ASKED: A Book of Answers on the Art & Craft of the Writing Life

Borne out of over fifteen years curating the Visiting Writers Reading Series at Whitman College, Walla Walla, Washington, Katrina Roberts’ Because You Asked is an anthology that brings together anecdotes, approaches, aspirations, confessions, warnings, challenges, passions, foibles, secrets, prompts, craft notes, manifestos—that is, perspectives from writers, their insights and revelations shared often during “Q & A sessions” with young—or simply young-at-heart—writers and readers. A peak inside the writing life, for readers of all sorts!

Here, novelists, poets, essayists and others weigh in on questions such as “What does it feel like to be an Indian?” (Sherman Alexie); “What’s the Worst that could happen?” (Kim Barnes); and “How do you feel about being a heretic?” (Christian Wiman). There’s Nick Flynn on the “purpose of storytelling”; Tess Gallagher on “finding by losing”; Lydia Davis on “Endings and Order; or Order and Endings”; Bonnie Rough on raising daughters, Jo An Beard on how fiction and nonfiction overlap; Kazim Ali on God; Galway Kinnell on animals that “swam into my consciousness”; Molly Bendall on what poetry and ballet share; Stephen Burt on personas; Robert Olen Butler on yearning; Brenda Shaughnessy on “radical spontaneaity”; Marvin Bell on rituals; Anthony Doerr on writing the unknown; Camille Dungy on “periods of silence”; Billy Collins on “what’s happened to rhyme and meter”; Mark Doty on a poem’s “underlayer”; Joy Harjo on tattoos (among other things); Paul Lisicky on the influence of music; Carmen Gimenez Smith on “work”; Donald Hall on living with another writer; Judith Kitchen on courting failure; Terrance Hayes on adjectives that describe him; Naomi Shihab Nye on “what’s right here”; Garrett Hongo on heritage; Mat Johnson on what he dislikes about writing; Sean Hill on displacement; Cara Diaconoff on “cultural tourism”; Dorianne Lux and Joesph Millar on the “human spirit”; Tod Marshall on the failure of language; “Six thousand lessons,” from Barry Lopez; Christopher Merrill on poetry, philosophy, and prayer; Aimee Nezhukumatathil on “becoming an astronaut”; Robert Pinsky on “how to read a poem”; Lia Purpura on questions that “strike fear in her heart”; Paisley Rekdal on what it means “to be a biracial woman writer”; Mark Strand on the diary; Geronimo Tagatac on the writer’s journey; Richard Wilbur on the pencil-written word; Sarah Vap on “the tyranny of meaning”; Robert Wrigley on inspiration; Carolyne Wright on travel; Jess Walter on the best e-mail he ever got; and (among many others voices) Terry Tempest Williams on “where to begin.”