Category Archives: teaching

Darkness & Light

Lent has officially ended. Today is Good Friday, the second of the three days (Triduum) leading up to Easter Sunday.  Today — or rather, tonight, at sundown — marks the start of  Passover.  I’ve been thinking today about story, without which we wouldn’t commemorate either event.  I’ve also been thinking, this Lent, about trust, about giving up my often desperate grip on control in my own stories.   I’ve been praying, I guess, about letting go.  Today, too, I am struck by the Triduum’s embrace of sorrow and agony, and how those dark places open us up.  Story does that too, … Continue reading

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Story of an Ending*

Halfway through the year, a visitor appeared to a teenaged girl.  This was no ordinary visitor. The visitor greeted the girl, who was perplexed, even troubled, by the greeting.  Why had this extraordinary visitor come?  Don’t be afraid, the visitor told her, and then went on to say that the girl had found favor with God and would conceive and bear a son.  The visitor told her the son’s name and predicted greatness for him—a throne, even.  This troubled the girl even further.  She’d never slept with a man, as she pointed out to the visitor—how could she conceive? And, … Continue reading

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Will Write for Food

A guy I knew in grad school used to wear a T-shirt with those four words on the front.  Every time he wore it, the rest of us gave knowing chuckles.  The statement aptly captured two assumptions of student life:  meager grocery budget; desperation for payment, any payment, for one’s words. I’ve been thinking a lot about that shirt.  The spirit behind it seems both sincere—a willingness to do what it takes—and ironic.  Food?  You kidding me? What about free?  You kidding me? The debate sprouts up on Facebook, professional writers’ list servs, and heated email chains: when is it … Continue reading

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Heart Openers

My friend (and former student) Callie Feyen is teaching the writing portion of a writing-and-yoga class in Gaithersburg, Maryland. She shared with me the worksheets for the first class—Enter, Discover, Journey.  The yoga teacher, she added, will be teaching poses to “open the heart” to complement the writing portion. Sounds like the kind of thing we’d do here in California, and for a lot more than $100 for seven classes.  (Maybe the price is a typo…)  Seriously, though, I love heart openers—the yoga poses, I mean.  Here’s one of the simplest:  Take a block, place it length-wise on its side … Continue reading

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Caveat Lector

Yesterday the carpet cleaners came.  In our household, this means picking up the piles of books, laundry too dirty to put back in the drawer but not dirty enough for the laundry basket, and various not-yet-read magazines in order to clear space from said carpet.  In so doing, I faced the fact of all those issues of AWP Writer’s Chronicle and Poets & Writers. I started reading Poets and Writers back in its black-and-white newsprint cover days. When I left New York to start a graduate program in creative writing in the wilderness of California’s Sacramento Valley, my publishing colleagues … Continue reading

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