Posts made in August, 2012

The Case of the “Dead” Brother, Part 2

Posted by on Aug 29, 2012 in Archive | 4 comments

The Case of the “Dead” Brother, Part 2

Here is the Chinese symbol for truth. Here’s more about “truth” in nonfiction and poetry: as I think about it now, it’s really poetry I’m concerned with. When nonfiction posits an “I,” we read with a measure of suspended disbelief. We believe the writer’s trying for the truth of the situation, but that there may be some invented dialogue, some stretched and conflated scenes. In memoir—in my own memoir—I’ve done that: combined elements to make a single moment that was probably several different ones. Who knows for sure? My memory isn’t that accurate. If I ask my...

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The Case of the “Dead” Brother

Posted by on Aug 22, 2012 in Archive | 7 comments

The Case of the “Dead” Brother

Once I heard a poet read a poem about his brother who had died a tragic death. The audience was deeply moved. Afterward, some people came up and asked him more about his brother. “I don’t have a brother,” he said, somewhat airily. “Do you assume my poem is about some factual truth?” I was offended. Others were, too. WHY we were is the interesting question. When what we write appears to be truth, is it okay to lie? This is an issue that merits some looking into. And has been—most recently for me at a panel discussion by Rainier Writing Workshop faculty members Sherry Simpson, Mary...

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Getting Educated, or, Carrying the Gunny-sack

Posted by on Aug 14, 2012 in Archive | 0 comments

Getting Educated, or, Carrying the Gunny-sack

I’ve been thinking about my higher education in light of reading Mary Clearman Blew’s wonderful memoir, This is Not the Ivy League, (Univ. of Nebraska Press, 2011). Blew is of my generation. She grew up on a farm in Montana, graduated from a one-room schoolhouse, and “escaped,” as she says, and pushed her way through graduate school, against the pressures of the ‘50s—inherited from our parents—to be a conventional housewife. There I am, like Blew, with all that stuff in my head: “Get dinner on the table every night at six,” “Be the quiet domestic support behind your...

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Why I Love Teaching in a Low-Res Writing Program

Posted by on Aug 7, 2012 in Archive | 5 comments

Why I Love Teaching in a Low-Res Writing Program

Every August I pack an almost-over-the-weight-limit suitcase and my computer and fly to Tacoma, WA, to teach for ten days at the Rainier Writing Workshop, a low-residency MFA program (to my mind, one of the best in the country). This is where I am at the moment—I have a little free time in the middle of pretty intense days—workshops, readings, craft talks, lectures, classes. It’s a great deal of fun. Every year I’m giddily happy to see my colleague-friends, about 30 of us, young and old writers from all over the country. At the end of the ten days, we mentors are paired with mentees,...

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My Versatile Stand-Up Paddleboard

Posted by on Aug 2, 2012 in Archive | 10 comments

My Versatile Stand-Up Paddleboard

I love my stand-up paddleboard. I learned from my friend Anne-Marie to wrap a sarong-like scarf around my bathing suit so that I look like a native woman, off to spear a few fish for breakfast. Well, something like that. Our lake is quiet enough in the mornings and evening after sunset so that I don’t have to buck waves or motorboat wakes. I’m not terribly secure when things begin rocking, but I’ve managed to stay on so far. The view from up there, standing, is different. I can’t explain how. You’re walking on water, sort of. You’re sliding over the surface, upright, with your...

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