RSS Feed

Monthly Archives: August 2016

William Maxwell – marvelous editor and writer

Wm Maxwell

Today I’d like to recommend a wonderful writer, William Keepers Maxwell, (1908-2000) whose work I have been immersed in. I knew he was a distinguished editor; he was at The New Yorker from 1936 to 1975, and was the editor of such luminaries as Salinger, John Cheever, Frank O’Connor and Eudora Welty. He was a quiet man who did little to promote himself or his own work. He cared about editing in an old-fashioned way and practiced it with dedication. I recently read a big volume of his early novels and stories (published by Library of America), which is excellent. At his best, I think he is as good as Cheever, which is high praise. One of Maxwell’s better known stories that was published in the New Yorker is “The Thistles in Sweden,” a masterpiece. He is very good at elegiac descriptions of the past and evocations of worlds that don’t exist any more, such as France shortly after World War II. His humor is dry and his observations of people are fascinating. Maxwell’s literary reputation has apparently grown since his death. I highly recommend his stories and novels to you. Benjamin Cheever said of Maxwell’s carefully crafted prose, “…it can be read like poetry.”

Publishing poetry – a privilege

books cat tapestry

I’ve been publishing poetry books since 2003 – 91 of them, including many anthologies. I hope to keep doing it for a long time. I feel sure that I will never run out of excellent poetry manuscripts to turn into books. There are so few outlets for poetry if you don’t get accepted by an academic press or go the self-publishing route. I turn down at least ten manuscripts for each one I accept. They continue to pour in via email and “over the transom”, as the publishers used to say, in snail mail. I love the book design part of the job, too. (Note: please email me before sending an unsolicited manuscript.) In a good year, I publish six books and break even without personally subsidizing the business. If you care about poetry, you can help by buying Moon Pie Press books either from the website or from poets at readings. Come to readings. Support poets. Give their books as gifts.

Here is a short poem by Andrew Periale of New Hampshire, from his 2016 calendar A Woodland Sketchbook, featuring art by his wife Bonnie Periale.

Broad-Winged Hawk

He kills without remorse
And much of what he eats is garden pests.
Raccoons and bears will raid his nests,
So nature strikes a balance in due course.
He flies four thousand miles to breeding range.
Monogamous, he finds himself a mate
and then with up to four eggs they are blest.
This compact hawk is territorial,
long-lived, diurnal, predatorial
and glides on currents like a swift corsair.
A monarch of the northern boreal,
its voice a shrill slice in the sylvan air.