International Prize for Arabic Fiction

This is a bit slow in coming, but I’m working on an article for Driftless about reading culture and the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair, and I remembered that last year around this time I posted about the shortlist and winner for the Booker-sponsored International Prize for Arabic Fiction. So I thought I’d post theContinue reading “International Prize for Arabic Fiction”

Patrons of writing and teaching: Anansi

Since February is Black History month in the US, I thought I’d write about another of my writing patrons, Anansi the Spider, King of Stories.  I first learned of Anansi from my college friend Moses Elango, who is from Cameroon, but many people encounter Anansi long before their college years: Anansi is a common figureContinue reading “Patrons of writing and teaching: Anansi”

The English language

I have always enjoyed teaching English — especially freshman English — for many of the same reasons I love the English language in the first place: Students invariably introduce me to new ways of using (read: abusing) or interpreting the language. This has been true everywhere I’ve taught, regardless of demographic, though I admit IContinue reading “The English language”

Taboo: The answers

Your grandma makes it — it’s warm. You sleep with it. Answer: a quilt  This is a really old famous writer. Answer: William Shakespeare  It’s Friday! It’s a candybar!Answer: Payday  It’s coming out of your nose. “Boogers! Snot!” Yes — another word for what’s happening . . . . Answer: Drip   (hilarious laughter) Just skip it! Answer: Armpit  Thing in the sky. WhenContinue reading “Taboo: The answers”


This week I have my students playing Taboo. The exercise serves a number of functions, actually: 1) It helps them form bonds within their newly-created workshop groups; 2) it allows them to practice description by finding alternate ways of describing things or ideas, since they have to avoid the obvious descriptive terms on the cards;Continue reading “Taboo”

“The Bullet Surprise,” courtesy of “beta amphetamine”

My friend Beth Ann Fennelly has a new book of of poetry out, Unmentionables, which I’ve been salivating for since I finished her nonfiction book Great with Child a year ago. I haven’t ordered it yet, but I’ve been thinking about the book, so to whet my yearning I’ve picked up an old favorite, herContinue reading ““The Bullet Surprise,” courtesy of “beta amphetamine””