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Sewanee Writers on Writing

edited by Wyatt Prunty

Southern Literary Studies

168 pages / 5.00 x 8.50 inches / no illustrations

Literature - American

  Paperback / 9780807126523 / November 2000

For two weeks every year, literary figures from throughout the country gather in rural Sewanee, Tennessee, to lead the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, a series of workshops and colloquia aimed at cultivating the craft of writing. Gleaned from the first ten conferences, the “craft” lectures collected inDisclosing Craft offer a range of perspectives on writing as practiced by various playwrights, poets, and fiction writers whose gifts have made the Sewanee conference a mecca for developing talent.

The essays offer a banquet of topics that will whet the appetite of all authors, professional and amateur. Russell Banks ponders the role of research in the constitutive power of the imagination, John Casey considers simultaneity in art, and Ellen Douglas describes how a writer confronts the changing shape of memory.

Reviewing the many changes he has witnessed in his distinguished career as a playwright, Horton Foote offers his perspective on the collaborative spirit of the theater, and Ernest Gaines explains why his subject matter must always remain the people of Louisiana. Anthony Hecht responds to W. H. Auden, revealing the ways both poets pair talent with subject, and in a discussion of Robert Frost, John Hollander explores the delicate subtleties of Frost’s figurative thought.

Diane Johnson offers a witty and frank answer to the question all writers face at one time or another: “Write what?” Donald Justice expounds on the virtues of obscurity in poetry, and Romulus Linney offers practical guidelines for using dramatic action to revise a play. In her examination of Nabokov's Bend Sinister, Alice McDermott demonstrates that fiction writers are bound by no rules other than “do whatever you can get away with.” Marsha Norman provides a witty list of the dos and don'ts of playwriting and Francine Prose stresses the importance of detail to a story’s credibility. Finally, volume editor Wyatt Prunty discusses the figure of vacancy in the stories of Flannery O’Connor and Peter Taylor. 

Wyatt Prunty is director of the Sewanee Writers' Conference and editor of the Sewanee Writers' Series at the University of the South. He is the author of several poetry collections-including Unarmed and Dangerous: New and Selected Poems and What Women Know, What Men Believe-and Fallen from the Symboled World: Precedents for the New Formalism.

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