THE WRITING PATH 1: An Annual of Poetry and Prose from Writers' Conferences by Michael -- Ed. Pettit

THE WRITING PATH 1: An Annual of Poetry and Prose from Writers' Conferences

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An anthology divided between poetry and fiction that's more a patchwork collector's item for alumni of writing conferences than a collection deserving wide attention. Poet and teacher Pettit (Mount Holyoke College) surveyed teachers at summer writing conferences and then paired their recent work with the work of their most ""outstanding"" students, hoping in this way to bring notice to new writers. Unfortunately, though, most of the mentors are as obscure to the general public as the young talents. The only exceptions, the relatively well-known fiction writers Barry Hannah and Robert Olmstead, are two of the few mentors who contributed muscular work to the anthology: Hannah's ""Drummer Down,"" about a man at 50 who recalls with poignancy an old friend who kills himself, and Olmstead's ""Korea,"" about a crazy backcountry bubba who's finally tamed by his woman. Hannah presents Lisa Fugard's ""Pelorus Jack,"" a story that dramatizes a difficult if magical childhood and is bright with vervy energy. Olmstead chooses Ashley Warlick's ""People Being What They Are,"" a lyrical and touching ode to growing up female, blue-collar, and burdened with dreams. Too many selections, however, are overdone and workshopped to death, whether fiction (where mentor Andrea Barrett's slice-of-life ""Rare Bird"" is matched in slightness by student Sarah Stone's ""History"") or poetry (where Marvin Bell's indulgent ""The Book of the Dead Man"" is fittingly paired with the dense non sequiturs of student Hugh Steinberg's ""Snapshots from a Nuclear Family""). Altogether, interested readers should skip this uneven and unrepresentative sampling and go straight to the annual Pushcart Prize anthology. Gimmicky and disappointing.

Pub Date: June 23rd, 1995
Page count: 243pp
Publisher: Univ. of Iowa