The best part of beginning again after so much ending again is that my own rate of revelations happen much faster. I have a map. I made it myself with Goddard experts who enthusiastically shared their compasses. I think back to my first semester and the time I spent muzzling Majesty Wells inside a bloodstained trunk while I looked for my keys. This is better. There are clean restrooms ahead and Orson is just another passenger dozing under pulsing streetlamps.
We confronted the building and came away proud by re-learning what makes a scar and what can provide healing – adventure with a friend to defy the norm, create ritual and witness.
For the past dozen years, I’ve taught in Goddard College’s low-residency MFA in Creative Writing Program, and it’s been the most rewarding work of my life. Goddard is unlike colleges that operate hierarchically, with a pecking order of faculty “above”
I love this word, woke. Technically, I guess you could say it’s a verb in the past tense, as in “I woke up and saw the light,” but recently it’s been used as an adjective to inform the present, as in “I am woke to the reasons my people came to this country and I am not proud of it anymore!” But when I think about craft, and what it means to me, which is pretty much everything—it’s a doctrine and a commitment, it’s a mantra and a fail-safe, it’s better than a cocktail or a joint or a church service—I must start with this old word newly used, this word “woke.” Because most of all, I think that craft is about being awake.
In the nonfiction publishing world, proposals are supposed to be the acorns, watered by a generous advance, from which mighty oaks will grow.
The novel’s scintillating hilarity can be traced back to that gap between the narrator’s awareness and the character’s.
When I decided to “become” a “real writer,” the best advice I received was from prolific children’s author Bruce Coville. He said, “You should join the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.” So I did. I went to their conference that summer—they hold a big one in Los Angeles every year for all levels, and a more professionally-oriented one in New York in the winter. I was a newcomer and the LA event was walking distance from my house, so how could I refuse?
In her keynote speech at the Goddard MFAW Vermont residency, @r3reiko talks about craft and urgency: “the truth we need to speak, the warning we need to impart, the redemption we need to share, the beauty we see in the world, the thrill of being alive…”
I already did cancer as a child and had the t-shirt to prove it.
The above is a side note — a digression — because what I really want to discuss is how artists can use their art to invent a place that has long existed. Last night Netflix aired Springsteen on Broadway. This is what Springsteen had to say about the Jersey Shore. Before I quote The Boss let me warn you that there are expletives so please move on if you are uncomfortable…
Identity, fragile, gives way to identity…
I’m finishing a book at the moment, and I recently discovered that I hate a chapter title. Hate it. Loathe it. Despise it. Hate hate hate it. Were it alive, I would kill it, then do everything in my power to bring it back to life, just so I could kill it again.
Last month, two beloved writers, Meena Alexander and Louise DeSalvo, made their transitions into a fully spiritual existence. Meena was 67. Louise was 76. Both, in addition to authoring numerous books, were Distinguished Professors at Hunter College, CUNY. Each, in their own way, helped to shape my path as a writer.
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.
Today my first book is “officially” released unto the world. The Shame of Losing was picked up by Red
Hen Press fall of 2015, so here I am, three years later, wondering how to be a book marketer meanwhile
not choke on my own self-promotional worry tears.