Sheila Reads Her Poems for National Poetry Month

For National Poetry Month, tonight I am reading from my own poetry at the link below. For me poetry is an everyday experience and so there aren’t any huge production values or perfect lighting in this video. Just me sharing my poems and talking to you about what I hope poetry accomplishes for humanity. You can … Continue reading

A Writer’s Role Models: Canadian Author Miriam Towes and Her 15-Year-Old Character Elfrieda

This week, I have made a video for Writing It Real’s Weekly Article. In it, I share a passage from Canadian author Miriam Toews’ novel All My Puny Sorrows in which a talented 15-year-old piano player exercises her genius against the unwelcome authoritarianism of the Mennonite elders, who “willy nilly” as the girl’s mother says, … Continue reading

The Honor of Writing a Foreword to an Anthology

The following is the 2013 foreword I was honored to write for the anthology Times They Were A’Changing: Women Remember the 60s and 70s, edited by Linda Joy Myers, Amber Lea Starfire and Kate Farrell. Paying tribute to the vibrant decades during which I was a college student and next a mom to two young children was certainly a … Continue reading

An Ode to the Author of Blue Willow

I was reading a magazine article recently in which authors wrote about pivotal books they’ve read. What book would I name, I wondered. Immediately, I saw myself at my fourth grade desk in the 1950’s at Franklin Elementary School in Union Township, New Jersey. I am unwrapping a book I ordered from the Scholastic Book … Continue reading

Digesting World News

This essay originally appeared in Writing It Real August 2006. The question I was exploring is still one many of us ask when we consider the world’s situation: Where is our writing in all this? How should it matter? Every time I open my computer, I look at the upper right-hand corner of the screen to … Continue reading

The Strangest of Theatres: A Poet Writes Across Borders

Three accomplished writers have as editors acquired a collection of essays in The Strangest of Theatres: Poets Writing Across Borders in which poets explore the way their journeys to foreign lands helped them add to literature’s great conversation. Susan Rich, one editor of the three, whose newest poetry collection Cloud Pharmacy is just out from … Continue reading

On Meeting the Lost Boys of Sudan, Personal Writing at the Intersection of History

Writing It Real member Betty Shafer met five of the Lost Boys of the Sudan during a time that she was mourning personal losses and considering a major life change. Entwining their story of tragedy and survival during an historic upheaval with reflections on events in her own life, Betty arrives at clarity, strength, and … Continue reading

Foreword to Times They Were A-Changing

It was an honor to be asked to write the foreword to the newly released anthology Times They Were A-Changing, edited by Linda Joy Myers, Amber Lea Starfire, and Kate Farrell, whose selection of forty-eight powerful stories and poems by women about life changing experiences in the ’60s and ’70s vividly re-creates those two decades … Continue reading

A Keynote Address Using Personal Experience

As the writers among our circles of family, friends, colleagues and associates, we are often approached to write addresses and eulogies, toasts and speeches. On September 19, 2013, I presented the keynote address at Providence Hospice of Seattle’s annual Pediatric Luncheon. It is a fundraiser for the organization’s work with grieving and terminally ill children and … Continue reading

On Writing and Publishing Poetic Memoir, An Interview

Nancy Smiler Levinson set herself the goal of writing about what she was living through during her husband’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. The result was a powerful, filled with love, and ultimately affirming memoir, all in free verse, Moments of Dawn: a poetic memoir of love & family, affliction & admiration.  A professional writer for decades, Nancy … Continue reading

Facilitate Poetry’s Ulterior Purpose

April is National Poetry Month. That means nationwide, the month of April is filled with even larger numbers of poetry related events than other months of the year. Hopefully, reading about them in your local newspapers and on websites will encourage you to attend, and listening to poets will spark your interest in participating in … Continue reading

A Children’s Book From the Heart: Interview with Penny Holland

Creating stories to delight children and help them understand sophisticated social concepts is a primary objective of children’s book authors. But it is often hard to cut to the essence of situations in language children understand. Penny Claire Holland had the story for a children’s picture book many years ago, but let her manuscript sit … Continue reading

In the Presence of Wonder

Today as my co-instructor and I taught a course called “Teaching Poetry to Help Students Meet Literacy Standards,” something remarkable happened, something that often happens with poetry. I’d like to tell you about it because talking about what happened will help those of you who write from your heart affirm the value of what you … Continue reading

Writing Does Make a Difference: A Conversation with Barbara Field On Expanding Women’s Voices Through Writing

I was fortunate to meet Barbara Field when we both presented several years ago at the Whidbey Island Writers’ Conference in Washington State. When I heard from Barbara about recent developments in her writing life, I was eager to share what she’s  been up to in joining new projects. The work she tells us about … Continue reading

Lifesaving with Oral Histories

After reading Nancy Rekow’s oral history works, I wrote to her with questions, hoping for an article that allowed Writing It Real subscribers access to the thought process and background that fed her desire to write oral history. In response, Nancy wrote the following article and sent me this note: “Thanks, Sheila, for sending me … Continue reading

On The Evolution of a Columnist

[Writing It Real subscriber Tina Traster used a time of great change in her personal life to build a bridge from her work as a newspaper journalist to making money with her passion for writing personal essays. This week we hear from her on what writing in the new genre has meant. At the end … Continue reading

Writing About Place

In graduate school, at California State University-Fresno, Eileen Apperson began what was to become a longer creative non-fiction project when she wrote one short essay about the eradication of Tulare Lake, which was once the largest fresh water lake west of the Mississippi. She found that her classmates and professor had never heard of the … Continue reading

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

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

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