When I become interested in an idea, I want to know what I think about it—so I write essays. But I also, frequently, want to know what others think about the same idea. If I think enough people might be interested, I try to edit a collection of essays. Editors don’t talk to each other that often. There are organizations of writers, but editors are strewn about, having occasional conversations that are rarely recorded. For this series of dialogues, I’ve tried to gather some editors of nonfiction anthologies to talk together. I fed them a few questions, which they’ve responded to, or not. Their conversations are as interesting, as lively, as their anthologies. —David Lazar
John D’Agata is the author of several books, including About a Mountain, The Lifespan of a Fact and On Knowing & Not, a collaboration with Belgian painter Jean-Baptiste Bernard. He teaches creative writing at the University of Iowa, where he directs the Nonfiction Writing Program.
Phillip Lopate’s most recent books are Two Marriages, Notes on Sontag, At the End of the Day: Selected Poems, Portrait Inside My Head and To Show and To Tell: The Craft of Literary Nonfiction. He has edited the following anthologies: The Art of the Personal Essay, Writing New York, Journey of a Living Experiment and American Movie Critics. Also, a best-essays-of-the-year series, The Anchor Essay Annual, from 1997-1999. He is a Professor of Writing at Columbia University, where he directs the Graduate Nonfiction Program.