Posted by: jeannineatkins | January 7, 2016

Poets & Writers

I’ve read Poets & Writers since I was an undergraduate and aspiring writer, back when it was printed on newsprint and of course entirely black and white. I shared copies with a friend, who years later, when her poetry fell by the way, told me that she kept up her subscription because letting it go would be the final sign that she’d given up on putting writing back into her life.


Since those days, there seem to be a lot more writers in the world and other ways for us to share our hopes, fears, and publication strategies. But I’ve kept up my subscription. This January/February issue is dedicated to Inspiration, but all the issues hold that necessary force. It also remains a good source of information about the writing business. I am happy to have an article called The Missing Locket: An Invitation to Wonder in this issue, which is available in most bookstores. I discuss ways I’m pulled by the gaps in personal and public histories. Sometimes just a little is what we need to begin. I realized this talking to a friend about how I love the show Call the Midwife, but found the memoirs on which it’s based flat: I could see how the show writers developed rich characters from just a few lines. And a few days ago a friend showed me her mother’s diary which she’d inherited. “It’s not really a diary,” she said, and flipping through I saw what she meant. There were copied quotes, taped-in menus and concert programs, and a wonderful few horsehairs, I believe, from a pew where the diarist noted that she’d sat for some years. It all took my breath away with possibility.

This issue of Poets & Writers includes great articles about taking risks, stepping back from marketing, revision, the power of objects, and introductions to debut poets, including Robin Coste Lewis, whose Voyage of the Sable Venus, full as it is with an exploration of history, is a new favorite of mine. In the Editor’s Note, Kevin Larimer reminds us: “Whether thousands, hundreds, or dozens of people might read what we’ve written, or even if we reach just one single soul, we are being given an opportunity to create something bright in all this darkness. Shine.”




  1. I bought a copy of the magazine just for your article! I’m SO looking forward to diving in! And how cool that it’s the INSPIRATION issue! Perfect! Congratulations!

    • Thank you ever-inspirational, Debbi. Good luck with your editing — so exciting to be at that point!

  2. Time to subscribe for me, Jeannine!

    • To keep believing, it helps to be surrounded by believers: this is one way.

  3. So thrilled for you to be in a wonderful magazine that you love. I love that final quote. I might be quoting you soon!

  4. Shine, indeed! You do, Jeannine, all the time. Back when I was first going public with the writing dream that had so long been in my heart, my sister gave me a subscription to Writer’s Digest. And she’s renewed it for me every year since then. I read it cover to cover, every single issue. Congratulations on the article, Jeannine! You are an inspiration! xo

    • I love that you have these people believing in you: your father’s ever-present interest, your sister’s gift. And how cool that you won an award from Writer’s Digest for your poetry a few years back, making a sort of circle. I’m so excited for your books coming out this year! Shine, yes, you do.

  5. This is fantastic! Congratulations Jeannine! ❤

  6. “The Missing Locket” is a hymn to particularity, beautifully wrought, evocative.

    “Artifacts are invitations to wonder.” That sentence alone and what surges within it repaid the price of the magazine many-fold. The care with which you attend each item’s absolute particularity resonated not only with my experience as a writer but with my professional life as a librarian in academia. I wrote an essay several years ago that explored the experience of going into the libraries of scholars who had recently died and and respectfully drinking them in before any thought of boxing. Surely we are kindred souls.

    Should you wish to dip into the essay, here is a link:

    With every good wish,

    Andrew Scrimgeour

    • Thank you

      Andrew D. Scrimgeour, PhD Dean of Libraries Emeritus Drew University Madison, New Jersey

      610 Gravel Brook Court Cary, North Carolina 27519 Phone: 908-246-4742

    • Thank you so much for commenting and linking to your moving essay. I loved reading of the ritualized respect with which you entered and left those dear libraries. Yes, online writing has its value — I wouldn’t have otherwise read your essay — but I’ll always love what real paper, ink, and covers evoke. I hope your essay is being read in library schools. Thank you for lifting my spirits!

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