At the AWP conference here in Austin, the bookfair rolled out a handsome carpet of new printed word. The University of Nebraska, building a fine reputation as a fine forge for new writers, brought its latest as well as its best-known author’s book to the fair: Writing Brave & Free, Encouraging Words for People Who Want to Start Writing. The book was just out, selling for 20 percent below list price, a great reason to come to the bookfair.

The book is co-written by Pulitzer Prize winner Ted Kooser, the country’s Poet Laureate, and Steve Cox, editor emeritus of the University of Arizona Press. From the back jacket:

“The focus here is the the work itself: how to get started and how to keep going, and never is heard a discouraging word such as “no,” “not,” or “never.”

Kooser and Cox remind me of the advice we give in The Writer’s Workshop using the Amherst Writers & Artists methods. “The goal and the fruit of a true discipline is completion. Completion of a work of art.” What’s more, the AWA way says that a huge part of leading a disciplined writing life is having other people in your life who care about your writing. People who encourage it, believe in it. Kooser is one of those, the first Poet Laureate to have a newspaper column printed across America, American Life in Poetry.

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