Why I Write Series Giveaway

Enter for a chance to win the entire Why I Write series of books from Yale University Press!

THE PRIZE

A collection of short ruminations from some of greatest writers of our generation. 

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Catching the Light

Joy Harjo

In this lyrical meditation about the why of writing poetry, Joy Harjo reflects on significant points of illumination, experience, and questioning from her fifty years as a poet. Comprised of intimate vignettes that take us through the author’s life journey as a youth in the late 1960s, a single mother, and a champion of Native nations, this book offers a fresh understanding of how poetry functions as an expression of purpose, spirit, community, and memory.

Harjo insists the most meaningful poetry is birthed through cracks in history from what is broken and unseen. At the crossroads of this brokenness, she calls us to watch and listen for the songs of justice for all those America has denied. This is an homage to the power of words to defy erasure—to inscribe the story, again and again, of who we have been, who we are, and who we can be.

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For Now

Eileen Myles

In this raucous meditation, Eileen Myles offers an intimate glimpse into creativity’s immediacy. With erudition and wit, Myles recounts their early years as an awakening writer; existential struggles with landlords; storied moments with neighbors, friends, and lovers; and the textures and identities of cities and the country that reveal the nature of writing as presence in time.

For Myles, time’s “optic quality” is what enables writing in the first place—as attention, as devotion, as excess. It is this chronologized vision that enables the writer to love the world as it presently is, lending love a linguistic permanence amid social and political systems that threaten to eradicate it. Irreverent, generous, and always insightful, For Now is a candid record of the creative process from one of our most beloved artists.

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Of Solids and Surds

Samuel R. Delany

Language is the way humans deal with past, present, and future possibilities, as well as the subset called the probable. This is where Samuel Delany finds his justification for the writing life.

Since the 1960s, occurrences such as Sputnik, school desegregation, and the advent of AIDS have given Delany, as a gay man, as a black man, access to certain truths and facts he could write about, and the language—sometimes fiction, sometimes nonfiction—in which to present them. “We write,” Delany believes, “at the intersection of your experience and mine in a way, I hope, that allows recognition.”

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Inadvertent

Karl Ove Knausgaard

“Why I Write” may prove to be the most difficult question Karl Ove Knausgaard has struggled to answer yet it is central to the project of one of the most influential writers working today. To write, for the Norwegian artist, is to resist easy thinking and preconceived notions that inhibit awareness of our lives. Knausgaard writes to “erode [his] own notions about the world. . . . It is one thing to know something, another to write about it.” The key to enhanced living is the ability to hit upon something inadvertently, to regard it from a position of defenselessness and unknowing. A deeply personal meditation, Inadvertent is a cogent and accessible guide to the creative process of one of our most prolific and ingenious artists.

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Devotion

Patti Smith

A work of creative brilliance may seem like magic—its source a mystery, its impact unexpectedly stirring. How does an artist accomplish such an achievement, connecting deeply with an audience never met? In this groundbreaking book, one of our culture’s beloved artists offers a detailed account of her own creative process, inspirations, and unexpected connections.

Patti Smith, a National Book Award-winning author, first presents an original and beautifully crafted tale of obsession—a young skater who lives for her art, a possessive collector who ruthlessly seeks his prize, a relationship forged of need both craven and exalted. She then takes us on a second journey, exploring the sources of her story. We travel through the South of France to Camus’s house, and visit the garden of the great publisher Gallimard where the ghosts of Mishima, Nabokov, and Genet mingle. Smith tracks down Simone Weil’s grave in a lonely cemetery, hours from London, and winds through the nameless Paris streets of Patrick Modiano’s novels. Whether writing in a café or a train, Smith generously opens her notebooks and lets us glimpse the alchemy of her art and craft in this arresting and original book on writing.

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