Why “Are You a Writer?” Is a Bad Question

Some people consider themselves a writer but, when asked, never admit as much. They are the shy and modest ones, I hear you saying. They are the realistic ones, I hear the other saying. Some people consider themselves a writer and, when asked, explain at great length. They are the outgoing and confident ones, I …

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Billy Collins, Animated

Billy Collins, one of the most recognized among American poets, did a wise thing years ago. He harnessed the power of video to many of his poems. This not only helped poet-writers with the art of imagery, it also gave reluctant poet-readers (often known as "students") a door into the not-so-bad-after-all genre of poetry. Given …

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The Moment vs. Writer’s Block

Some people are fervent believers in writer's block. They stare at paper. Paper stares back. They stare at screens. Screens stare back. Me? I'm rude. I write on papers and type across screens with no regard or respect at all for their whiteness. What's in a first draft, after all? Mostly garbage. So why so …

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“As Dead Now as Shakespeare’s Children”

David Kirby, another one of those poet slash professors (in this case at Florida State University), is known for long-ish narrative poems, often leavened freely with humor. It's an engaging combination, one I've been coming to know better since I picked up two of his books. As a short intro, I found an unusually (for …

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Chekhov’s Secret: Not a Gun on the Wall

As is true with poetry, short stories are typically frowned upon by book publishers. To get a collection of short fiction accepted, you either have to be a well-known name or your stories have to be very, very (did I say "very"?) good. This truth, as self-evident as Thomas Jefferson's were supposed to be, struck …

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“Forgive Me, Mother, for You Have Sinned”

Confessional mode. Like the first-person point of view in general, it is often welcomed by readers because they like to feel like confidantes. They also like to know that they are not the only ones. The only ones what, you ask? It doesn't much matter, I answer. The only ones with family trouble, marriage trouble, …

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When the News Kills the Muse

Sometimes it feels like you're faced with an everyday dilemma of rock or hard place, devil or deep blue sea, Scylla or Charybdis. You know what I'm talking about: poetry or citizenship. A steady diet of the news, it seems, is good for becoming an informed citizen (something all countries of the world need today, …

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Inspired by Water: One If By Lake, Two If By Sea

Vacation. For students, its special meaning lies in summer, the granddaddy of all vacations. For adults, however, it's more narrow. Most full-time workers enjoy but 2 to 4 weeks of paid vacation each year. Compared to the nine-week wonder of childhood, slim provisions indeed. Conjuring vacations of your childhood is sure to bring back a …

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