Writing Archive

The Artist’s Statement—How Visual Artists Find and Use Voice

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Voice is an intangible but discernible sensibility that threads through and ties together a body of work. It can be loud or quiet, but we always feel it.

A Held Breath: Alice Munro’s “Tricks” and Waiting in Literature

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I am in the midst of an anticipating season. My first book comes out in a month; my second baby will be born in a little over two. I’m finding that in terms of productivity right now I’m pretty useless.

Building a Writing Community in the Woods

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We came for a writing residency called Till. Unlike conferences like Breadloaf or residencies like the Fine Arts Work Center or the Millay Colony, Till is short—just a long weekend of workshops, uninterrupted writing time (with no cell phone signal), and drinking wine around bonfires.

Sketching and Writing: A Visual Artist’s Perspective

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The first thing we had to do was exchange our sharpened pencils for a thick piece of charcoal. We were instructed not to hold the charcoal too tightly. A pose would often last as little as five seconds, but we were expected to capture the whole thing.

On Movement: the Writer as Walker

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Many writers have explored the pleasures of walking, including the likes of Virginia Woolf and Amy Hempel. There is a whole canon that depicts and analyzes the connection between moving through geographical terrains and mental ones.

It Might Be Lonelier Without the Loneliness: Poetry and Loneliness

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Poems, for me, are the epitome of Dickinson’s capital-L Loneliness, that loneliness that accompanies and keeps one from feeling utterly alone, its shadow-shape, its cameo presence.

Against Epigraphs

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A poem’s epigraph does more than set the tone—it raises the stakes before the poem even begins. Almost every poem could have an epigraph, if inspiration and interest were the criteria. But I’d like to propose the opposite. Let’s put a moratorium on epigraphs.

The Poetics of Madness: Reading and Writing Mental Illness

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In a sense, madness (to use an archaic but attractive term) is a problem of narrative. To put it plainly: mental illness makes it difficult to know just what the heck is going on, or to what extent one’s perceptions of events can be trusted.

Serial, Timelines, and Fiction

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In "Route Talk," an episode from the first season of Serial, Sarah Koenig and her producer attempt to recreate the state’s timeline of the murder of Hae Min Lee. As I listened, I was struck by how similar their exercise was to one creative writers perform.

As From My Window I Sometimes Glance

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Lately, I spend a lot of time gazing out my window. In quiet moments with a cup of coffee and the whole day unspooling before me, I sit on the ledge looking at the street below and think of Alicia Ostriker’s poem, August Morning, Upper Broadway.