Writers on America is a collection of essays by various American authors on different aspects of America. It was conceived in the direct aftermath of 9/11 as a way to introduce readers to a United States that is not prominent in American pop culture. It is published by the US State Department and distributed by embassies. Michael Chabon writes about growing up in the utopian planned city of Columbia, Maryland. Bharati Mukherjee writes On Being an American Writer rather than an Indo-American one. Charles Johnson writes about a great uncle who started a milk company, and after that went belly-up in the Great Depression, founded a construction business. The other authors with essays in the volume are Elmaz Abinader, Julia Alvarez, Sven Birkerts, Robert Olen Butler, Billy Collins, Robert Creeley, David Herbert Donald, Richard Ford, Linda Hogan, Mark Jacobs, Naomi Shihab Nye and Robert Pinsky. On Voice of America Eric Felten interviewed Mark Jacobs, George Clack, executive editor of the publication and Joseph Bottum, books and arts editor of the Weekly Standard. NPR interviewed Clack and Elmaz Abinader [RealAudio] about the project and On the Media interviewed Clack by himself.
Robert Creeley, one of the most exquisite and influential poets of our era, died this morning at age 78. I'd link to a story, but it's not in the news yet. This is a note from one of Robert's friends: "American poet Robert Creeley passed away this morning at 6:15 am in Odessa, Texas, where he was fulfilling a Residency at the Lannan Foundation. (Mr. Creeley was a recipient of the Lannan Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award.) His wife of twenty-eight years, Penelope, and son Will and daughter Hannah were at his side. The cause of death was complications from respiratory disease." Though a comrade and muse for Beat Generation writers like Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac, Creeley was much less well-known, and had a style rather unlike theirs, distinguished by extreme economy of words and an understated approach toward emotion. Creeley was often cited as a pioneer by the so-called language poets, and his most creatively generative friendship was with another poet's poet, the late Charles Olson. Creeley's subtlety and balance will be missed.