“Embarkation”: A Poem by Meg Files

Embarkation by Meg Files The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.  –Marcel Proust We believe we are prepared for this trip: all-terrain shoes, tiny clotheslines, mesh-sided shirts, new underwear, Columbia shorts, everything cute enough for each other. At the Quito airport, the driver holds a sign–Sally … Continue reading

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Finding the Sacred Through Careful Attention

When author Margaret D. McGee moved with her husband David into a house in the woods on the Olympic Peninsula, she started keeping a nature journal. As she formed the practice of writing short entries a few times a week, she realized that paying attention to nature outside her house was beginning to change her … Continue reading

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Making Historic Time Real

Recently, I heard from author Linda Collison in response to a Writing It Real e-mailing. Linda and I had met years ago during a visit my husband and I made to the Big Island in Hawaii. She and her husband were friends of the couple who owned the bed and breakfast we stayed at. Linda … Continue reading

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Love Letters from a Fat Man by Naomi Benaron

Author Stuart Dybeck was the final judge for the 2006 G.S. Sharat Chandra Prize for Short Fiction. I imagine his delight when he read Naomi Benaron’s original and moving collection Love Letters from a Fat Man. How could he not have chosen the volume as the winning manuscript? From its title story, which comes first … Continue reading

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Good Neighbors Bad Times by Mimi Schwartz

When writer Mimi Schwartz hears a story during a trip to Israel that corroborates the one her late father used to tell, she is compelled to conduct an ambitious research project about her father’s birthplace, a village where, he said, Christians and Jews lived cooperatively for hundred of years, a village where Christians remained supportive … Continue reading

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In Our Hands by Arnold Arem, M.D.

“In 1833, British anatomist Sir Charles Bell published a book whose premise was that the very existence of the human hand proved the existence of God.” So opens Arnold (Arnie) Arem’s book In Our Hands: A Hand Surgeon’s Tales of the Body’s Most Exquisite Instrument; from the get-go, we understand that we are in the … Continue reading

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Using Journals in Nonfiction Writing: Three Excellent Examples

Those of us committed to seeing personal experience in print often consider our journal entries a valuable source and form for literature. Usually, we are thinking of mining our own journals and compiling selected entries, but the three books I discuss this week show us how we might use other people’s journals in creating books. … Continue reading

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Writing Childhood’s Dark Side

Writing It Real contributor Janice Eidus’ newest novel, The War of the Rosens, is the story of 10-year-old Emma Rosen, a thoughtful girl who is writing poetry amidst the anger, confusion and angst of her leftist and atheist father Leo, her subservient socialist mother Annette and lovelorn older sister May. Amidst May’s hateful ripping up … Continue reading

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First You Have to Teach a Lesson

In How I Learned to Drive, Paula Vogel’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play, the main character enters, stands center stage and addresses the audience. “Sometimes to tell a secret, you first have to teach a lesson,” she announces. The lesson the play uses as its central theme is one about driving–the connective tissue of the play is … Continue reading

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Writing With Sense of Place

Writing that rivets its readers requires evocation of place, situation, and at least one person to inhabit the place and deal with the situation. This is true for all writing, even the most lyrical, imagistic or self-reflective. In her novel Veil of Roses, author Laura Fitzgerald makes use of opportunities to describe Tucson, AZ, where … Continue reading

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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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