Author Archive

The Cruel Side of the Desk

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Like most of us, I spent the early stages of my literary career wondering off and on what They wanted.  You know Them:  the Editors.  The mysterious voice of validation or doom (usually doom.)  They accept or reject without comment from the cloudy pinnacles of Olympus, or (as I

Better Late

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According to my medievalist spouse, Geoffrey Chaucer entered into the prime of his literary career, which has spanned the intervening five centuries, around the age of 40.  Presumably he was writing some things before that, and we can quibble about whether to count as major The Book of the

Lighten Up, Francis

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True confession:  I’m not a rabid fan of poetry readings. On one level this is, of course, fairly rampant hypocrisy, considering that I give readings and hope to give many more (and, someday, to be paid for some of them, but let’s not talk crazy.)  But on another level

Once More, With Feeling, Part II

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Well, here we are again, and I’m sorry to say the blog has not been inundated with teachers explaining in great detail what they expect from their poetry writing seminars (looking at you, my people.)  Nor have students written in saying what their own most cherished projected outcomes for

Once More, with Feeling, Part I

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This fall, for the first time in three years, I’ll be teaching an undergraduate poetry writing seminar at my university.  Because it’s been some years, it’s time to rethink that class; it’s also time because, as in most institutions, class sizes are rising, and the good old standby of

Travels with Grond

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Many years ago, my mother took me to the Library of Congress to hear Galway Kinnell read.  She had written her Master’s thesis on Kinnell, a thesis I’d read a time or three, so we were looking forward to hearing the living voice. The living voice said a number

Books for the Beltane Season

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Diana’s e-mail that Ploughshares was interested in blogs about summer reading was a happy occasion, and not only because it preempted that sometimes-desperate scrabble for appropriate blog topics, as in (because I also teach grammar and usage) “Brian!  Would anybody read it if I blogged about the semi-colon versus


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Last week, we had our first probably-twister since coming to live in beautiful Cullowhee; in the mountains, it’s hard for a tornado to get up a good whirl, and by and large our weather is so temperate we’re ashamed to complain about it.  (I also felled my first tree,

Second Person

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Like many another writer doesn’t precisely work in creative writing, I’ve spent a lot of time teaching composition…so let’s just start with a shout-out to all the contingent labor teaching composition on a piecework basis, year in and decade out, summer and winter, usually for under $30,000 a year,

Compost Season

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It’s that time again.  My university’s semester has ended, and while this does not, alas, mean that I’ve logged any hammock time, nor that all my interns for August are placed, nor yet that a certain grisly assessment report is approved by all relevant parties…it does mean opening the