Monthly Archives: March 2016

“Each night I sat on the porch and wished for some surge of feeling, some firelit stream of sound to lead me away from all that I had known.”

Can you love a poem that you don’t understand?  I think this question divides the poetry-reading public into two camps: those who prefer Mary Oliver, Billy Collins, and Ted Kooser on the one side, and those who prefer poets such … Continue reading

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“I had had a dream, and that dream was a warning of what might happen to me if I rejected what I’d been and who I was.”

Philip Levine’s essay “Entering Poetry,” describes the day he began writing about the people he had worked with in Detroit auto factories.  “When I closed my eyes and looked into the past, I did not see the blazing color of … Continue reading

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“A blog post, a personal essay, even a full-length memoir, is not about stuffing in as much as you can; rather, it’s about illustrating something correctly.”

Just because it happened, doesn’t make it interesting, Marion Roach Smith bluntly observes in this short book on writing memoir.  What makes it interesting? Roach Smith’s answer to this question sets her book apart from other textbooks on this topic. … Continue reading

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“Lonely was the first flavor I had tasted in my life, and it was always there, hidden inside the crevices of my mouth, reminding me.”

In an interview, novelist Elizabeth Strout said that she sees writing as a way “to help people,” that her job was to try “to open somebody’s eyes just a little bit for one minute.” Is there a greater challenge that … Continue reading

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“Learning to participate in discussion is a lifelong learning project, and most of us go to our graves feeling we still have a lot to learn.”

However, as authors Brookfield and Preskill note, that “doesn’t mean that we can’t get better at creating the conditions under which good discussion is more likely to occur.” We can increase the odds of being successful by planning carefully, having … Continue reading

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