Sandi C. Shore’s Secrets to Standup Success

Most teachers who understand writing as a process say that the first step is to play with words.  They provide exercises for helping students jump and run and climb on the word playground.  But what if your teacher is a stand-up comic?  Well, then, she helps you define your personality, sharpen your comedic style, and … Continue reading

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Coaxing Imaginative Awareness

Braided Creek:  A Conversation in Poetry by Jim Harrison and Ted Kooser (Copper Canyon Press) offers wisdom, sensitive observation and love of essence.  On the book’s back cover, the editors have written that one of the poets said, “This book is an assertion in favor of poetry and against credentials.” According to my Webster’s, a … Continue reading

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Writing for Mother’s Day

With Mother’s Day approaching, I once again reread two poems by Stanley Plumly that I admire. In “Say Summer/For My Mother,” Plumly writes: I could give it back to you, perhaps in a season, say summer.  I could give you leaf back, green grass, sky full of rain… And in “Two Moments, for My Mother,” … Continue reading

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A Review of Tell It Slant

Two professors from the Creative Writing Program at Western Washington State University in Bellingham, Washington have put together Tell It Slant, an enlightening, comprehensive and very satisfying text on writing and shaping creative nonfiction.  The book includes a 237-page bonus anthology of 32 essays by notable writers Margaret Atwood, James Baldwin, Joan Didion, Annie Dillard, … Continue reading

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Reporting the Earthquakes in Life

In Daughter’s Keeper, a novel by Ayelet Waldman, the main characters are Elaine and her daughter Olivia. The novel succeeds as a portrayal of love redeemed between a mother and daughter against the backdrop of the United States’ drug enforcement system. Currently a Berkeley resident, author Ayelet Waldman is a graduate of Harvard Law School … Continue reading

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Useful Writing Strategies from The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters

Not scheduled for release until January 2004, The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters, an epistolary novel by Elisabeth Robinson, has already received excellent reviews.  If you are developing a wish list for holiday gifts, I recommend putting this book on that list.  It is a pleasurable read, by turns hilarious and poignant, … Continue reading

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A Look at Four Writers Who Inhabit the Moment

Lately, I’ve read a book of Buddhist wisdom by Vietnamese monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, poetry by the Northwest’s James Bertolino, essays by the Northeast’s Philip Simmons and memoirs by the Southwest’s Laurence Shames and by Timothy Doyle, who has lived in India for years.  In each of the author’s performances, I am reminded that when … Continue reading

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Embedded in The Dogs of Babel

On my vacation this year along the shores of Lake Michigan, I was reading the last chapters of an advance reading copy of The Dogs of Babel on the day it appeared in bookstores across America.  Little, Brown and Company introduced the book at this year’s Book Expo America to stimulate interest among booksellers, and … Continue reading

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Must Reads for Essay Writers

“Learning to Drive” by Katha Pollitt in The New Yorker Magazine, July 22, 2002: Click for more information on the columnist  “Learning to Drive” is an engrossing and humble piece of writing from a leftist writer of renown, who refused to shy away from using very personal material. Her essay narrates her driving lessons with … Continue reading

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