Poetry is a Chance to Live Without Looking Away

I spent a lovely day this week reading three books of poems I’ve wanted to sit down with for some time: The Love Hunter and Other Poems by Meg Files, Boxing the Compass by Holly J. Hughes, and Small Knots, poems by Kelli Russell Agodon. Reading these three collections, one after the other, I understood … Continue reading

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On In Pieces: An Anthology of Fragmentary Writing

What definitions, thoughts and dreams I’ve snagged from In Pieces: An Anthology of Fragmentary Writing, edited by Olivia Dresher for Impassio Press. In her introduction, Dresher, a fragmentary writing enthusiast, introduces fragmentary writing this way:  “lack of a traditional beginning or end. Instead, the two are merged into a brief and concentrated middle, “a short … Continue reading

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On Cures Include Travel, Poems by Susan Rich

Susan Rich taught for the Writing It Real in Port Townsend’s summer writing conference last June. At the conference, she read from the poems that were soon to be published by White Pine Press in the volume entitled Cures Include Travel as well as those in her previous, The Cartographer’s Tongue. She introduced attendees to … Continue reading

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Miss Alcott’s Email: Yours for Reforms of All Kinds by Kit Bakke

Miss Alcott’s Email: Yours for Reforms of All Kinds is a remarkable memoir by Kit Bakke about a political activist, mother, nurse and management consultant’s midlife review interwoven with a biography of her political and literary soul mate Louisa May Alcott. From the start of the author’s introduction, I knew that reading the book would … Continue reading

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On Writing True: The Art and Craft of Creative Nonfiction

In their book, Writing True: The Art and Craft of Creative Nonfiction, writers and writing professors Sondra Perl and Mimi Schwartz offer a straightforward, encouraging look at how any of us can write our own moving and insightful accounts of life experiences. In addition, they include an anthology of creative nonfiction and offer tips on … Continue reading

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On Deep Light, New and Selected Poems 1987 – 2007 by Rebecca McClanahan

Already familiar with Rebecca McClanahan’s essays about her family from her book Riddle Song (as well as her other Writing It Real articles), I was delighted when I found that a new and selected volume of her poems was coming this year. I feel moved every time I read one of the volume’s 91 poems, … Continue reading

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Ted Kooser’s The Poetry Home Repair Manual

I’ve been teaching poetry writing since 1981, when I began working on my Masters in Creative Writing at the University of Washington. As a teacher, I have continually applied all that I learned through trial and error creating and revising my own work and all that I learned in the company of the many great … Continue reading

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Lasting: Poems on Aging, Edited by Meg Files

Which of us has not looked intently at the markings of age in others and then looked for those markings in ourselves? Which of us doesn’t hope for some wisdom to come along with the signs of aging? Which of us doesn’t hope it all means something? Finally, we have a volume of poems on … Continue reading

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A Personal Essay and a Contest It Inspires

This week’s article is an essay by one of our treasured correspondents with a contest announcement for Writing It Real subscribers inspired by the essay. Janice Eidus’ essay was to have appeared in an anthology that explored the theme and experience of being Jewish edited by the great comic Alan King, but when he died … Continue reading

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Fiction Inspiration from A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

We’ve seen movie versions, television versions, and stage adaptations of Dickens’s famous story. We have had the story read to us and in turn have read it to others.  Like people all over the world, we have been haunted by the mean, miserly character of Ebenezer Scrooge, which makes us think, amidst the gifts and … Continue reading

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Teachings from Felt Sense: Writing with the Body by Sondra Perl

Last March, I met Sondra Perl at the National Council of Teachers of English‘s Conference on College Composition and Communication in San Francisco. We talked about her book Felt Sense: Writing with the Body and I recognized the aspects of writing that she was addressing. I took my copy of the book home and excitedly … Continue reading

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Explosions and Recapitulations

Viewing poetry as a gift, Edward Hirsch writes in his book “How to Read a Poem and Fall in Love with Poetry:  “The question poses itself as how to keep alive an interior life in the face of our own and the world’s corruptions.” As an example of a solution, he presents Charles Baudelaire‘s prose … Continue reading

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For YOUR Eyes Only

Joanne Rocklin’s young adult novel, For YOUR Eyes Only is in the form of a young teen’s notebook. You can read an excerpt at Amazon.com to see how effectively the writing strategy evokes the main character and the world in which she is immersed. Writing for the Children’s Book Insider, Joanne Rocklin provided tips for … Continue reading

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Truth & Beauty: Ann Patchett’s memoir about her friendship with Lucy Grealy

Lucy Grealy, author of Autobiography of a Face, and five-time novelist Ann Patchett were acquaintances at Sarah Lawrence, where Lucy was legendary as a poet and inspired her classmates with her courage in facing and healing from constant surgeries to restore her face, scared and disfigured from cancer surgery when she was nine. When they … Continue reading

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On The Cartographer’s Tongue: Poems of the World by Susan Rich

From The Cartographer’s Tongue: Poems of the World Leaving Sarajevo by Susan Rich The bus driver stops to pick plums from an abandoned late summer garden, the pale blue carrier bags pulled from his bed where he sleeps underneath the bus. All night we watch movies, drink beer in the dark, cross borders where Bosnians, … Continue reading

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It’s Not How You Write, It’s How You Re-Write

This week we are very lucky to have an article about revision by poet Susan Rich, described by Naomi Shihab Nye on the back cover of her first prize-winning collection The Cartographer’sTongue as “a caring citizen of every heart-land.” Not only that, she is a brave and dedicated teacher: her article is filled with examples … Continue reading

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What is Poetry?

When I walked into an independent bookstore recently and saw Apprentice of the Flower Poet Z. on a table of new fiction paperbacks, I picked it up because of its title and then read the first of the back cover blurbs: “A splendid satire of literary life…Annabelle is the perfect naïf, the babe in the … Continue reading

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Prompts Inspired By In Brief: Short Takes on the Personal, edited by Kitchen & Jones

Janice Eidus, author and Writing It Real correspondent, currently teaches creative nonfiction for the University of New Orleans and uses writing prompts with her students based on the essay anthology In Brief, a book I discussed in my December 16, 2004 article. This week, she shares those prompts with us, and I offer a demonstration … Continue reading

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In Short – An Inspiring Essay Anthology Edited by Judith Kitchen and Mary Paumier Jones

“It is a matter of proportion,” Judith Kitchen and Mary Paumier Jones say about the criteria they used for selecting essays for an anthology entitled In Short and published by W. W. Norton in 1996.  Noticing that nonfiction writers they admired were frequently writing very short prose, they realized that what mattered in an essay … Continue reading

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A Story of Two Fathers and the Daughter Who Loves Food Too Much

Reading popular writing guru Natalie Goldberg’s newly published memoir, The Great Failure: A Bartender, a Monk, and My Unlikely Path to Truth, Harper San Francisco, 2004, I am drawn to the speaker’s many descriptions of the two influential male figures in her life, her bartender father and her now deceased Zen teacher. When she writes … Continue reading

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