Beating Artlessness to Heal and Save Ourselves and Hopefully, Our World

Emma Lazarus’ 1893 sonnet engraved on a plaque on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty has been made famous again this week. The New Colossus Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame, With conquering limbs astride from land to land; Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand A mighty woman with a … Continue reading

Writing About Grief, Writing to Protest and Take Action

Three mass shootings within seven days. Since January 2019, 979 people injured and 246 dead in such shootings. Waking up each morning to learn what new trick the current administration has for lowering morale in our country and treating people like rodents (that word, “infestation”). The rise in the number of cases doctors in our … Continue reading

Listening to Writers–New, Emerging and Well-Published

Every month, two of my 30-minute interviews with writers air on  KPTZ 91.9 FM. Over many years now, I have interviewed not only well-published poets, journalists, novelists, memoirists and other creative nonfiction writers, but those who are at the beginnings of their writing lives or have just had their work accepted by literary journals and … Continue reading

In My Opinion: Letter to My Husband’s Uncle

5/9/19 Hello Harlan, We had a wonderful time recently celebrating my mother’s 92nd birthday with my daughter’s family and her in-laws, who have moved from the Midwest to a town just north of Seattle to be near their son and grandsons. They are originally from the southern part of India and came here years ago … Continue reading

“In Honor of Mr. Alfred Scott,” by Jean Peelen

As Black History Month ends and we have learned more about black religious leaders, scientists, politicians, professors, film directors, sports figures, journalists, poets and authors, among many other professions, those of other ethnicities have had an opportunity to reflect on how learning of the strife of an oppressed group changed the trajectory of their own … Continue reading

Writing Our Personal Stories for Others: Susan Smith’s “My Heart Attack Saved My Life”

I haven’t posted in the Writing It Real category of “Writing Makes a Difference” in a while now as I’ve concentrated on writing exercises to keep you inspired. This week, though, I am returning to that category to share Susan Smith’s account of having a heart attack. She wrote this piece because little is discussed … Continue reading

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A Gander at Propaganda

“The Institute for Propaganda Analysis: Protecting Democracy in Pre-World War II America,” an article authored by Zachary Reisch and kept in the Bryn Mawr Institutional Library, offers clarification about the exploration of propaganda in our country. “What is democracy?” Reisch asks and he goes on: This is the question that liberals in late 1930s America … Continue reading

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Hiring the Journal Keeper (and/or the Writer Within)

  …the heart…and the learned skills of the conscious mind… make appointments with each other, and keep them, and something begins to happen. Mary OliverA Poetry Handbook Whether you are someone who sets out to write poems, essays, stories or articles or keeps journals, the thinking and analogy I make in this excerpt from my … Continue reading

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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