Pacific University Press – When the Rewards Can Be So Great

When the Rewards Can Be So Great by Kwame Dawes book cover

When the Rewards Can Be So Great

Essays on Writing & the Writing Life

Kwame Dawes (Editor)

Paperback, 336 pages, 6" x 9"

ISBN 978-0-9884827-4-6 (pbk)
ISBN 978-0-9884827-5-3 (epub)

July 2016

Purchasing Information

$18.95 (USD) paperback
$9.99 (USD) epub

IPPY Gold Medal

Winner of a 2017 Independent Publisher Book Award gold medal in the Writing/Publishing category

When the Rewards Can Be So Great is a compilation of selected crafts talks delivered by faculty at the Pacific University MFA program. An exciting introduction to some of the most alert and engaged minds in literary writing in the US across many genres, this collection allows readers to see how the authors think about writing and about teaching writing. The essays are at times deeply personal, providing insight into the development of the writers in their craft; others are sharply practical and filled with long-tested approaches for writing with power and effectiveness. All are characterized by care, generosity, and good humor-and reflect a wonderfully welcoming eclecticism of styles, interests, traditions, and diversity of voices.

"There's a wealth of knowledge in these pages, especially for writers and poets embarking on a period of serious work and looking for dependable guidelines. The contributors bring a lifetime of experience and decades of seasoned thought to their presentations." -- Barry Lopez

"Insightful, inspiring, entertaining and wise, these terrific essays are like getting a crash course from one of the best creative writing programs in the country." -- Jess Walter

"A necessary tool for every writer, both illuminating and inspiring. It takes on the questions that arise as we stare at the blank page, and all those questions that come up before we even sit down." -- Maaza Mengiste

  • Kwame Dawes, Preface
  • Carolyn Coman, Why I Write for Children
  • John McNally, The Shame, the Necessity, the Discouragement, and the Freedom: Rejection, Failure, and the Bigger Picture
  • Marvin Bell, 32 Statements About Writing Poetry
  • Pam Houston, Corn Maze
  • Scott Korb, The Courage to Sound Like Ourselves
  • Benjamin Percy, Get a Job
  • Claire Davis, The Created World: Setting & Mystery
  • Sandra Alcosser, A Match Flaring Up in a Dark Universe
  • Valerie Laken, The Geography of the Page
  • Mike Magnuson, First, You Tell: Exposition, Statements of Fact, and Using Prima Facie Evidence to Establish Yonder Discursive Fields
  • Ellen Bass, The Poem of the Moment
  • Kwame Dawes, Chameleon of Suffering
  • Steve Amick, Intimacy, Realism, and Efficacy in the Battle of the POV: A Re-Introduction to 3rd Person
  • Laura Hendrie, Jaws of Life
  • David Long, Nine Sentences
  • Mary Helen Stefaniak, Fiction in First Person: Narrators We Love—And Those We Love to Hate
  • Dorianne Laux, The Brilliance of the Simple Line
  • Debra Gwartney, Specificity? Yes, But Only If It's Relevant
  • Works Cited
  • About the Authors
  • Index

Preface © 2016 by Kwame Dawes 2016
Essays © 2016 by Sandra Alcosser, Steve Amick, Ellen Bass, Marvin Bell, Carolyn Coman, Claire Davis, Kwame Dawes, Debra Gwartney, Laura Hendrie, Pam Houston, Scott Korb, Valerie Laken, Dorianne Laux, David Long, Mike Magnuson, John McNally, Benjamin Percy, Mary Helen Stefaniak

Born in Ghana in 1962, Kwame Dawes spent most of his childhood in Jamaica. As a poet, he is profoundly influenced by the rhythms and textures of that lush place, citing in a recent interview his "spiritual, intellectual, and emotional engagement with reggae music." His book Bob Marley: Lyrical Genius remains the most authoritative study of the lyrics of Bob Marley. Dawes, former director of the MFA program at the University of South Carolina, was founder and director of the USC Poetry Initiative between 2000-2011. Between 2005 and 2011 he was the executive director of the University of South Carolina Arts Institute. Since 2008, he has been the associate poetry editor at Peepal Tree Press. Kwame Dawes is the Glenna Luschei Editor of Prairie Schooner and a Chancellor’s Professor of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Dawes is the director of the Calabash International Literary Festival’s Writer’s Workshop and a faculty member of Cave Canem.