Monthly Archives: March 2012

April Is National Poetry Month

My friend and writing colleague Ilana de Bare has posted a terrific piece on her blog, Midlife Bat Mitzvah, about Adrienne Rich, who died on Tuesday.   Like, I suspect, a lot of women, I heard about Rich before I ever read her poems.  And when I did, I was in grad school taking a seminar on the poetics of desire.  I must admit, I remember Rich’s name on the syllabus more than I recall her actual poetry.  That distinction goes to images from W. H. Auden (on giving head to a younger man) and from a fellow grad student who … Continue reading

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Vacation Reading

Read anything good on vacation? We haven’t even decided where we’re going this year—Grand Tetons? Hawaii? Yosemite?  Stinson Beach?—and already I’m answering  the question. You see, as soon as I start thinking about where, I start considering what books to bring.  I go away for a weekend and I bring a bag full of novels and a few months’ backlog of New Yorkers.  It’s not just a question of overestimating my time; it’s a question of what I’ll be in the mood for.  An Adam Gopnik essay?  A Donna Leon mystery?  Time to read up on the situation in Syria, … Continue reading

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How Much Is Too Much, Part II

Last week, I blogged about the quandary of how to respond to student work. Here, a few writing teachers I admire share their approaches. Laurie Ann Doyle teaches creative writing at UC Berkeley Extension. Her story “Restraint” will be published in Midway Journal  this summer. Constance Hale, author of Sin and Syntax and the forthcoming Vex, Hex, Smash, Smooch, has taught narrative nonfiction writing at UC Berkeley Extension, Boston University, and Harvard University. Wendy Tokunaga teaches fiction at University of San Francisco and Stanford Continuing Ed.  The author of three published novels, she has work in two new anthologies, Madonna … Continue reading

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How Much Is Too Much?

I’ve been teaching for more than ten years, and I like to think I’ve learned a thing or two along the way.  But every so often, I’m brought back to a question I struggled with early in my teaching career:  What’s the most helpful way to comment on student work? Specifically.   Constructively.  Right, but… how?  What balance of correction and affirmation, of criticism and encouragement? Writer Deborah Bryan posted this week on her blog, The Monster In Your Closet, about a letter she’d written to her brother-in-law, accompanying her edits to his scholarship application essay.  The gist was that he … Continue reading

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Friends Indeed

I have a folder in my email inbox titled Friends.  I also have one for Teaching, with subfolders for different classes.  No doubt there’s a better way to organize (Friends from Way Back; Acquaintances I Rarely See; BFF) but I stick with the general.  Lately I’ve been consider a new category, somewhere between Teaching and Friends. I taught Julie a year ago, and when the class was over, we started emailing—not that often, and usually on the topic of writing.  But the tone had changed, the balance of power shifted, so I thought of her in a new way. When … Continue reading

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