We Hold These Truths To Be Self-Evident…Once You Read Them

One of the most famous lines in Thomas Jefferson's start-the-presses Declaration of Independence is "We hold these truths to be self-evident." OK, let's not get political and note any ironies about what follows ("...that all men are created equal") because you know and I know that inequality is as big in the Age of Trump …

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Random Thoughts: July Edition

Summer vacation giveth and summer vacation taketh away. Yes, there is more time for reading, which is why you carried that extra piece of luggage to paradise, but there are also more family and friends buzzing about, sometimes visitors for a day (or two) and sometimes visitors for a week (or two). Company and reading …

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Richard Russo’s Advice for Beginning Writers

James Salter once said, "As a writer, you aren't anybody until you become somebody." I can just hear you now: Tell me something I don't know, fool, but Richard Russo includes the quote before his first essay in the collection, The Destiny Thief, for a reason: becoming somebody in writing is about as far-flung difficult …

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Teaching Poetry: A Better Way

As a poet, I'm not shy about sharing my own poems for teaching purposes in the classroom, and if you teach, you shouldn't be, either. Yes, my work is published, but that doesn't matter. I shared my poems before I was published, and you can, too. Students like seeing their teacher's own work, and it's …

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Dillard and Chee: Writing Teacher and Student

I just finished Alexander Chee's essay collection How To Write an Autobiographical Novel. The thing about essays written in the first person is the effect. As is true with first-person POV novels, you begin to feel as though you know the author. Of course you do not, but the conceit is there, and at times …

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Rules for Writers: A Baker’s Dozen

Here are some suggested daily habits for writers. It's OK if they are broken because that's what resolutions in habits' clothing are meant to suffer! Still, let us amuse ourselves as if rules are hard and fast: If you have little or no discipline around technology, keep a writing notebook. Buy the best damned notebook …

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Leviathan (Or, My Summer Reading List)

There's an old saying, now out of style in our "Supersize me!" society," that goes like this: "My eyes were bigger than my stomach." It means the food looked damn good, so you ordered (bought, cooked, helped yourself to) all of it and then couldn't finish it. The equivalent for readers? "My summer reading ambitions …

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