Jean Valentine and Adrienne Rich: Crossing Generations

Jean Valentine and Adrienne Rich: Crossing Generations

Poland Springs, Maine’s infamous water, sold worldwide, brings nothing to the town of Poland Springs, except the threat of poison. The springs ran dry fifty years ago, and the remaining Maine sources are close to human waste dumps, landfill, fish hatchery or toxic petroleum dump sites. It all matters, and back at my house, a little after 6pm, I meet with young poet filmmaker Matt to talk poetry.

The Word I Couldn’t Leave

The Word I Couldn’t Leave

I didn’t know how obsessed I was with the world – with the actual word world – until I went through my last book of poems and saw that I used the word at least 30 times.  Actually, another poet told me I used it 30 times but of course I went back and counted the words myself (because they were my words) to see if this was true.  I’d never done anything like that – count how many times a word got used.  I wonder if other poets do this?

Imaginative Literature in Dark Times

Imaginative Literature in Dark Times

I was a child in Los Angeles adrift in a world of TV and spectacle and vapidity and a deep unarticulated loneliness and out-of-placeness, where I  learned and loved to read and found in literature the wild connections, understanding, and a chorus of voices which spoke to me then across time, space, culture and language, and encouraged and emboldened me, and continue to do so until today.

I was a child in Los Angeles adrift in a world of TV and spectacle and vapidity and a deep unarticulated loneliness and out-of-placeness, where I  learned and loved to read and found in literature the wild connections, understanding, and a chorus of voices which spoke to me then across time, space, culture and language, and encouraged and emboldened me, and continue to do so until today.

Writer’s Diary:  St. George’s Fields, London

Writer’s Diary:  St. George’s Fields, London

Here I am again enjoying  my five-month writer’s colony, tenants covering the mortgage and the cat back home, 5000 miles away from all the other mundane cares.  One of the great paradoxes of our troubled times is that it’s cheaper for me to live in London than in the San Francisco Bay Area. This stripped-down life allows me to focus hard on my writing and enjoy the pleasures of a great city in my time off. My mental engine is madly racing. It’s exciting and exhausting at the same time. 

A Writer Unpacks the Kavanaugh Hearings

A Writer Unpacks the Kavanaugh Hearings

In some ways, Kavanaugh’s testimony was like every writer’s Shitty First Draft: there was true meaning buried in that mess, but it had yet to be exhumed. The advice I give to students who are struggling with their own first drafts is to Interrogate the Weird. That’s because weirdness usually signals something that deserves to be unpacked.
There was plenty of Weird in Kavanaugh’s testimony.

Diary of Books

Diary of Books

I’ve never kept a diary. At least not since I was eight, when my father bought two blank journals and suggested that he and I spend time together every evening writing in our diaries. For several weeks we did just that, sitting side by side on the living room couch and recording the events of the day. One day I came home from school and found my diary in the wrong place on the bookshelf. When I inquired about this, my dad said, “I have to admit something to you. I was so curious about what you’ve been writing that I couldn’t help myself, so I went in your room and read it.”

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