Eleven years ago today (and also a Tuesday)…

I was driving a two-hour commute to teach a college class. I listened to the news on the radio. At one point I had to pull over on the side of the road just to catch my breath. Later, I passed others who had done the same. When I got to school, I spent halfContinue reading “Eleven years ago today (and also a Tuesday)…”

A Writer’s Notebook: Beth Locke: “A Louisiana Girl”

This is another exercise drawn from my tutoring, this time from a high school junior who’s been studying The Grapes of Wrath. I’ll explain more below, but before you start reading, a little context: What appears in the Notebook is not my own work but an edit of something my maternal grandmother, Beth Locke (néeContinue reading “A Writer’s Notebook: Beth Locke: “A Louisiana Girl””

A Writer’s Notebook: literary retrospective

This week, another post based on a tutee’s assignment — this time for a high school student writing a final term paper. I’ll explain the assignment below (it’s an awesome one — this tutee of mine has a very cool high school English teacher!), but I ought to explain up front that I’m short-cutting myContinue reading “A Writer’s Notebook: literary retrospective”

“Teacher Sam”

In the next couple of weeks, I’ll be finishing some term-long or year-long tutoring jobs I’ve been working. Two of my students are high schoolers (one is graduating, and I’m proud to say I had a hand in her getting accepted to the University of Oregon, though my part was small). But one of myContinue reading ““Teacher Sam””

A Writer’s Notebook: (more) haiku

So, as promised, a few haiku: children laughing on swings dress heels clacking on cut stone — the grass grows unnoticed stone bench hard and cold exhaust fumes burn through the hot wind — sunlight in my hair like dark chocolate so bitter and sharp — so smooth smoke drifts in the breeze I’ve mentionedContinue reading “A Writer’s Notebook: (more) haiku”

A Writer’s Notebook: sonnet

Good grief, was it really March when I last posted one of these? I have REALLY let myself go! (Someday I’ll fill you in on my week-long Oreo binge.) In my defense, I was dealing with a dying cat (she’s feeling better now, by the way), a healthy dose of fiction rejection, and, well, that’sContinue reading “A Writer’s Notebook: sonnet”

Final words: students reflecting on 10 weeks of writing

A lot of my colleagues don’t bother with final exams in a writing class. The essays are the important thing, they argue, and the idea of a “test” seems out of place — there isn’t any knowledge a student can gain in a writing class that they haven’t already demonstrated in their essays, so thereContinue reading “Final words: students reflecting on 10 weeks of writing”

A Writer’s Notebook: prose poem as personal essay

I have my students writing personal essays this week, but I’m a bit too busy right now to write an essay alongside them. I can, however, toss a prose poem your way. New Orleans, 1996 When I wandered the shoreline near Jackson Square the saxophonist called me, lured me to him like a rat toContinue reading “A Writer’s Notebook: prose poem as personal essay”

Patrons, series 2: a lineage of writing and teaching

It has been simply ages since I last wrote about the spiritual and temporal guides to my career, my “Patrons of writing and teaching” series. It’s not for lack of content (in addition to this post, I have several others in my pocket for later), but I got quite sidetracked by the writing itself, whichContinue reading “Patrons, series 2: a lineage of writing and teaching”