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A Word About Writing: One Author, Seven Questions

An Interview with Jo Ann Beard, by Heidi Sistare

Jo Ann Beard

Jo Ann Beard is best known for her essay, “The Fourth State of Matter,” published in the June 24, 1996 issue of the New Yorker. It is an extraordinary telling of a 1991 shooting in the University of Iowa physics department. But Beard’s work is striking because of the uniqueness of her focus, not the drama of her subjects. She wants her students to learn that “as a writer you have to notice everything.” It’s a lesson she teaches in everything she writes. I spoke with Beard about facts, painting, and (accidentally) Texas gun laws.

When people talk about your writing they almost always bring up the boundary between fiction and nonfiction. Is this boundary important to you? How would you define it?

In some of my work that boundary has been permeable. I don’t care much about that as an issue, for me or for others, though I do care quite a lot about the truth-factor in my own work, if not the fact-factor. If there is such a thing as factual truth (there isn’t) (or maybe there is), the whole point of memoir is to be subjective, so it’s all irrelevant anyway and it’s hard enough to get the work done at all, without having to interrupt the process... Read more

In the Telling

#23: Erin Somers

In our latest installment of the In the Telling series, listen to Erin Somers read “Regret,” which appears in Issue 15: Hope.

Erin Somers was the recipient of the 2013 Neil Shepard Fiction Prize. Her writing has appeared in Green Mountains Review, One Teen Story, and elsewhere. She holds an MFA from the... Read more

Encounters in Publishing

#63 An Interview with Kyle Lucia Wu, MFA Candidate at The New School, by Paul Florez

Kyle Lucia Wu is a second year MFA student at The New School. I first met her last year when we were wide-eyed first years in Dale Peck’s (author of “The Garden of Lost and Found”) workshop and immediately admired her ability to write wayward characters looking for connections in dangerous places. She is currently balancing the responsibilities of being... Read more

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Slice Literary Writers' Conference

The 2015 Slice Literary Writers' Conference will take place on September 12 + 13, 2015. Stay tuned for more details. 


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