The Flower That Splits the Rock

Tell all the Truth but tell it slant by Emily Dickinson Tell all the truth but tell it slant— Success in Circuit lies Too bright for our infirm Delight The Truth’s superb surprise As Lightning to the Children eased With explanation kind The Truth must dazzle gradually Or every man be blind— Sometimes, we fear … Continue reading

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An Interview with Nahid Rachlin, Part Two

[This week’s article continues the interview Sheila did with writer Nahid Rachlin for the May, 2008 AWP Chronicle. Part one SheilaWhat advice do you have for those writing from painful political and family backgrounds? NahidMy advice is that they should give themselves time to understand it all and not be in the state of grief … Continue reading

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An Interview with Nahid Rachlin

This article originally appeared in the AWP Chronicle, May, 2008 Nahid Rachlin has published four novels, Jumping Over Fire, (City Lights), Foreigner (W.W. Norton), Married to a Stranger (E.P.Dutton), The Heart’s Desire (City Lights), and a collection of short stories, Veils (City Lights). Penguin published her memoir Persian Girls in Fall, 2006. Her individual short … 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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Writing Wisdom Gleaned from an Olympic Ski Coach

When my sister came to visit me this spring, she brought along her boss, Rob Roy, a former Olympic ski coach who lives in Bend, Oregon where he hikes, skis, and develops green building and affordable housing for seniors. I was curious about what he had learned about fostering athletic excellence. As he talked, I … Continue reading

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Journaling Workshops for Parents

In Lucy Rector Filppu’s journaling classes for parents, men and women gather together to write, cry, laugh, listen, discover, and to learn about themselves and support one another. They arrive in class hoping to find themselves as parents — but they leave with much more. In the last two years, Lucy has inspired over 200 … Continue reading

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The Perfect Rock

“After Marisa’s first seizure, when the two of us were in the hospital, the nurse told me I was doing a great job, and that I was a wonderful mother.” I read the opening of Betsy MacWhinney’s essay and immediately worried about her daughter. However, as I read further through the essay, my feelings of … Continue reading

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Grooming

Mary Zelinka opens her essay “Grooming” with a statement that lets us know up front that she is going to tell us an emotional story: “I wanted to hate Papa Burke, but by then I loved him too much.” I do not yet know who Papa Burke is, or what his relationship is to the … Continue reading

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Becoming a Woman of Color

“Becoming a Woman of Color” by Rebecca Mabanglo-Mayor offers a satisfying and moving read. A lyric essay in structure, it is built in sections that each begin with a command: Imagine, Remember, Picture. The symmetry between beginning and ending the essay with the word imagine and the repeated commands of remember and picture sandwiched between … 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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The Ungarnished Truth

This week we are posting an excerpt from Ellie Mathews’ memoir The Ungarnished Truth. The excerpt is a kind of a how-to essay. Ellie details the winning recipe she entered into the 1998 Pillsbury Bake Off Contest, telling us how she came up with it and a little about her approach to cooking daily meals. … Continue reading

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An Interview with Jay Bates, Host of A River & Sound Review

This year, I have had the delightful experience of working with Tarn Wilson, who is finishing up her MFA this spring from Pacific Lutheran University’s Rainer Writing Workshop. Writing It Real subscribers have already benefited from her article on keeping a travel journal; this week, we benefit from her program’s network as she interviews classmate … Continue reading

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What Your Furniture Tells You

The following exercise presented by Writing It Real in Port Townsend Writer’s Conference faculty member Susan Rich is from a poetry-writing workshop she presented at our 2007 writers’ conference. We publish it this week as a finale to our celebration of National Poetry Month. We hope you’ll email us your results from this exercise and … Continue reading

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Whit Press Founder Claudia Mauro Empowers Community Through the Literary Arts

Last year, poet Susan Rich, a Writing It Real in Port Townsend Writers’ Conference faculty member, told conference goers that she was asked to become a Board member for Whit Press in Seattle. She was pleased about helping a press specifically dedicated to benefiting community groups through the publication of books. This winter, Susan suggested … Continue reading

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Meg Files and the Poetry of Home

This week, in honor of National Poetry Month, we are proud to share an article by Writing It Real in Port Townsend Writers’ Conference faculty member Meg Files I have lived in three countries, in eight states, in fifteen cities, and on one island. I have lived in nine apartments, one duplex, one condo, and … Continue reading

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Get Your Writing Going this National Poetry Month

With poetry, we mourn the passage of time, celebrate connections, yell out at injustice, cry from the pain of unrequited love and exclaim our joy in love and gratitude.  Over the years, I have known I would start poems because of seeing the wet outline of my husband’s swimming trunks through his slacks as we … Continue reading

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The Story of a Century in the Pacific Northwest

If you’ve been identified as the one in your family, neighborhood or group of colleagues who writes, you may find yourself called upon to create writing for projects you hadn’t imagined setting out to do. One such request could be to put together an oral history. This week, novelist and writer Kit Bakke shares her … Continue reading

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An Interview with Kate Kelsall

Although trained as a clinical social worker and as a Certified Public Accountant, Kate Kelsall is currently writing and speaking and inspiring many with her twice weekly blog. Kate has Parkinson’s disease (PD) and through her efforts, many others with the disease are finding support and activities and coming to understand how much they can … Continue reading

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Dotting the Dragon’s Eye

This week, Jack Heffron, writer, editor and faculty member for Writing It Real In Port Townsend’s annual late June writer’s conference, shares “Dot the Dragon’s Eye,” Chapter Seventeen in his instructional book The Writer’s Idea Workshop: How to make your good ideas great, Writer’s Digest Books, 2003. Whether you are writing fiction, creative nonfiction or … Continue reading

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The Gestures I Remember Him By

Winter is one of the birthday seasons in my family. Among those birthdays, my late father’s comes February 20 and then mine, March 6th. Growing up, I marveled about how both he and I were Pisces, when we seemed so different in our temperaments. Like many men of his era, Bert J. Lillian equated vulnerability … Continue reading

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