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Writing the World

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In a series of passionate, profound, often humorous, observations, Kelly Cherry explores the art of writing, its relationship to place, and its importance in our lives.

"I have never written a 'travel essay,'" Cherry says, but her travels inform her poetry and fiction. Now, seeking to understand what it means to write from any particular place, she charts a course in creative nonfiction prose. From Cleveland to Yalta, Wisconsin to Latvia, England to the Arizona desert or the ...

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Overview

In a series of passionate, profound, often humorous, observations, Kelly Cherry explores the art of writing, its relationship to place, and its importance in our lives.

"I have never written a 'travel essay,'" Cherry says, but her travels inform her poetry and fiction. Now, seeking to understand what it means to write from any particular place, she charts a course in creative nonfiction prose. From Cleveland to Yalta, Wisconsin to Latvia, England to the Arizona desert or the Philippines, she writes as a way of knowing the world.

Along the way we become acquainted with the author herself, whose parents were string quartet violinists. They didn't go to church and, caught up in a rehearsal, sometimes forgot to put dinner on the table, but there was always music in the house (or the tenement flat). Cherry recalls warmly the stories of her childhood: "I don't know whether or not there's a God," her mother would say, "but I know there was a Beethoven, and that's good enough for me."

And always there was writing. As young writers do, Cherry earned her living at a variety of jobs--creating fictional histories of overseas orphans for their U.S. sponsors; editing and writing religious textbooks; a stint as a visiting professor in southwest Minnesota, where, in order to live in the dormitory, the only housing practicable for someone without a car, she had to enroll simultaneously as a student (she took astronomy). And in the evenings, the mornings, and other stolen moments, she wrote--as she does now--to create beauty from a specific kind of knowledge, the knowledge we acquire by creating beauty.

Cherry explores what it means to be a Southern writer and a woman writer, and discusses the changing face of the profession of writing. "To be a writer in America is to be marginal," she notes, adding that perhaps the best place for a serious writer to reside is "on the edge, outside looking in."

You seek to know what it means to be living where you are, and that search is, for a writer, a searching out of language. That quest is, for a writer, a questioning. For a writer, beauty and knowledge begin in the same place.

With its brilliant insights and beautiful language, Writing the World is an eloquent meditation on what it means to be a writer. Like Annie Dillard's The Writing Life and Eudora Welty's One Writer's Beginnings, Cherry's Writing the World will be a lasting inspiration for anyone who has ever dreamed of being a writer.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Words will take you anywhere. . . . That's the exhilaration of it--all those stories and poems out there, just waiting to be discovered.

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Cherry, an author of poetry, fiction and the memoir The Exiled Heart, here collects 23 of her essays on literature and writing, first published mainly in small magazines but often extensively rewritten. Though Cherry says she has structured the book as a prose poem, with essays brief and long echoing issues of creativity, time and place, she ranges far enough afield to make this book better suited for browsing. The author's musings are candid if not compelling, her style fluid if not arresting. ``In the book, an artistic idea does reshape the world,'' Cherry insists, describing a work of hers based on the romance she had with a Latvian composer, a romance thwarted by the Cold War. She reflects on studying lit crit with Allen Tate and muses on her generational ``siblings'' fellow Southern poets Henry Taylor, R.H.W. Dillard and Fred Chappel. (May)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780826209924
  • Publisher: University of Missouri Press
  • Publication date: 5/28/1995
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 176
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Kelly Cherry is the author of more than a dozen books of fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction, including the critically acclaimed memoir The Exiled Heart. Her fiction has been represented in Best American Short Stories, Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards, and The Pushcart Prize. For her poetry, she has received the James G. Hanes Poetry Prize of the Fellowship of Southern Writers. She teaches at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and she writes wherever she is.

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