Alchemy of the Word: Writers Talk About Writing
Edited by Nicola Morris and Aimee Liu

Buy the Book - $24.95

Alchemy of the Word: Writers Talk About Writing is a book like no other, from a writing program like no other. In this remarkable collection of essays, twenty-five acclaimed novelists, poets, playwrights, memoirists, cross-genre and nonfiction writers engage the reader in a virtual literary conversation, filled with passion, insight, wit, and warmth.

The Goddard MFA was the first low-residency program in creative writing; now there are around fifty operating in the United States.  Program Director, Paul Selig says, “What greeted me at my first Goddard residency was the kind of community I had never dreamed possible . . . the facultywell, they were teachers of the first order, and I found their dedication to shepherding a new generation of writers came from a place of deep generosity, wisdom and integrity.”

Alchemy of the Word introduces you to this faculty—not through their writing tips, tricks, and exercises, but through their experiences of themselves as professional writers living in the world, tackling issues they care about deeply and reporting back. To read this anthology is to travel to the wellsprings of literary inspiration, and to eavesdrop on a room full of mentors. 

Words become us. Our lives become words. So begins the introduction to this powerful collection. The essays that follow are eclectic and range from the practical to the mystical, the humorous to the scientific, and the political to the personal. The book is broken down by topic into chapters (“Composing the Wilderness”, “Originality and Influence”, “Points of View”, “Literary Activism.”) which feature work by writers like Ryan Boudinot, Deb Brevoort, Rebecca Brown, Bhanu Kapil, Michael Klein, Rachel Pollack, and Rahna Reiko Rizzuto. Throughout, each essay explores, exhorts, inspires, and exhilarates . . . illustrating in its own distinctive way the transformative power of language: the alchemy of the word.

Whether you are a writer, a reader, or either a student or teacher of writing, Alchemy of the Word is bound to become an endlessly inspiring and entertaining addition to your library.

What others are saying:

“Whether you’re a young beginner or a veteran writer like me, you’ll get support from reading ALCHEMY OF THE WORD. These authors’ thoughts are mystical and practical, political and inspiring and funny. I’ve found companions on this lonely journey.”

—Maxine Hong Kingston, National Book Award Winner and
author of China Men, The Woman Warrior, and Tripmaster Monkey

“ALCHEMY OF THE WORD is a smart, exhilarating collection—a true literary conversation, filled with wit, heart, and insight. Every writer with the ambition to create meaningful work will treasure this book. As one author says, ‘Welcome to the club. Remember to pay your dues.’”

—Kim Addonizio, author of What Is This Thing Called Love,
Lucifer at the Starlite, and Tell Me, a finalist for the National Book Award

“Any time a group of writers takes what little time they have away from their creative process to share the insight and wisdom gleaned from years of practicing their craft, we should all take notice. These are the kinds of lessons you don’t learn in school, but instead, learn from life. Artists mentoring artists is a very good thing.”

—Gary Garrison, Executive Director, The Creative Affairs of the Dramatist’s Guild,
and author of The New, Improved Playwrights Survival Guide:
Keeping the Drama in Your Work and Out of Your Life

“ALCHEMY OF THE WORD is a profoundly moving and incredibly incisive collection of essays. The authors, all of them outstanding educators, write with passion, beauty and humor, their work is the best possible example of the old writing school adage ‘show don’t tell.’ In reading these meditations I understood again how very lucky I am to have been a part of the Goddard tradition; one that holds its students to the highest possible standards—to be autonomous, to care for others, and to bring the world to your writing—not simply bring your writing to the world. ALCHEMY OF THE WORD is one of the best books I’ve read about the trade. It’s not a ‘How To’ and like everything affiliated with Goddard College it tackles the bigger questions and shines a light on what our obligations are as writers and as members of a broader society.”

—Cara Hoffman, author of So Much Pretty

About the Editors

Nicola Morris is the author of a book of essays, The Golem as Metaphor in Jewish American Literature. Her poems, stories, and essays have appeared in anthologies and in print and web-based literary journals. In addition to teaching in Goddard College’s MFA in Creative Writing Program, she teaches in the English Department at SUNY Cortland.


Aimee Liu is author of the novels Flash House, Cloud Mountain, and Face (all Warner Books) and the memoirs Gaining: The Truth About Life After Eating Disorders (Grand Central) and Solitaire (Harper & Row). Her books have been translated into more than a dozen languages. She also has co-authored more than seven books on health and psychological topics. Liu is a past president of PEN USA and lives in Los Angeles. 
Click here to visit Liu's Web site