Online Edition: Fall 2006

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Letters to Poets
Conversations About Poetics, Politics, and Community

Editor's Note

by Dana Teen Lomax and Jennifer Firestone

The Letters to Poets project is the culmination of one year's correspondence between 14 pairs of America's leading poets and "emerging" poets with whom they chose to write. From the inception of the project, there have been no strict formal or thematic guidelines; we just asked poets to write about their most pressing issues. The result is an exceptionally diverse anthology full of integrity, honesty, and skill.

Letters to Poets takes place 100 years after the writing of Rilke's Letters To A Young Poet and does well to both credit and challenge that earlier work. In the Letters project, the question of "mentorship" gets reworked as the writers talk about the endemic heirarchies and problems in older models of apprenticeship. The topics in these letters range from race issues to gender codes, and from U.S. politics to poetics. We hope that these letters will spark discussion and offer insight into some of the ongoing urgent conversations in contemporary poetry.

Rain Taxi presents here the first exchanges between two poet pairs: Anselm Berrigan and John Yau, and Wanda Coleman and Truong Tran.


Letters: Anselm Berrigan and John Yau

Letters: Truong Tran and Wanda Coleman