Author Archive

The Ploughshares Round-Down: “The Wolf of Wall Street” and Its Backlash

Author: | Categories: Writing, Writing Advice 1 Comment
Okay writers, it’s 2014. And what better way start a new year than with an enormous media controversy surrounding a Scorcese film? I KNOW: perfect. If you’ve missed it (I’m sure you’ve had your noses to the ol’ writing grindstone), here’s the deal: The Wolf of Wall Street is a

Where Your Writing Can Go: Storytelling as Advocacy

Author: | Categories: Writing, Writing Advice No comments
Christy Burch didn’t think she was a writer. This was before she worked with rape crisis centers and with the Kentucky Domestic Violence Association (KDVA), working with advocates statewide to support victims of violence. While in these roles, she was instrumental in the release and pardon of thirteen incarcerated, battered women. She

Four Reasons to Write the Hell Out of (What’s Left of) 2013

Author: | Categories: Writing, Writing Advice 2 Comments
Okay writers. You may be secretly planning to tread water until the New Year, at which point you’ll of course begin tackling your epic plans for Writerly Greatness. 2014 is my year, you scrawl in your Moleskine. Now where is my pie? But there are all kinds of reasons to

Writing in a Changing World: Craft, Readerships, and Social Media

Author: | Categories: Publishing, Writing, Writing Advice 3 Comments
What do you wish your MFA program had taught you? How is the literary world—and media in general—changing? How should we change with it? These are the questions that motivate Stephanie Vanderslice‘s work as a writer, professor, and HuffPost blogger. I heard Vanderslice speak at the International Great Writing Conference this June, where she

Chucking “Art for Art’s Sake” – Writers and Social Impact

Author: | Categories: Writing, Writing Advice No comments
One morning in late September, I found myself backstage at the “Annual Day of Peace” in Covington, KY—an event that kicks off October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month. I’d been asked to perform a song I wrote about my family’s history of domestic violence, and was listening as speakers

“Let’s Get You an Agent”—An Agent’s How-to for Writers

So—Eric Nelson is an agent with the Susan Rabiner Literary Agency. His own blog, “How to Think Like Your Agent,” is full of quick, no-nonsense advice. Here, he lends our readers a special dose of it: how to get an agent, from an agent’s POV. Check out his words

STEAL THIS STUFF: What Writers Can Learn from Over the Rhine

Author: | Categories: Writing 6 Comments
Okay Writers. If you’ve been tucked safely away from Great Music over the last two decades, you may be new to the “aggressively beautiful” music of Over the Rhine. Today, the husband/wife duo Linford Detweiler and Karin Bergquist are invading my column, not just because they’re critically acclaimed songwriters—but because,

Nine Things Writers Can Learn from (ahem) Science.

Author: | Categories: Writing, Writing Advice 3 Comments
Okay, yes. I said “science.” (I’m about to judge me, too.) But as luck would have it, I submitted this blog just as Steven Pinker‘s “Science Is Not the Enemy of Humanities” was about to go viral. Pinker and I will high-five about our uncanny timing later, but meanwhile—let’s

Why Poetry Can’t Find Its Public, Part Two

Author: | Categories: Uncategorized 18 Comments
A couple months ago, my blog, “Why Poetry Can’t Find Its Public” nearly caused a riot. Teeth were bared! F bombs thrown! I wanted readers to learn from pop music’s ability to connect with more people. Readers translated this as a suggestion that poetry be like pop music, sell like pop music, sell out like

Writers: Go and Sin Some More.

Author: | Categories: Uncategorized No comments
By the time you read this, I’ll be in London, having just given a paper on my (very erotic) manipulations of Gerard Manley Hopkins’ poetry. (More on that in a minute.) Meanwhile, in my songwriter life, I’m preparing to record some songs that leap beyond the safe bounds of