A follow-up about Virginia Quarterly

Back in August, I wrote a post about the tragic suicide of Kevin Morrissey; in that post, I commented on one aspect of the narrative unfolding at the time, namely, the dangers of workplace bullying and the need for our vigilance in fighting it. That post has received a lot of traffic since, partly fromContinue reading “A follow-up about Virginia Quarterly”

In memoriam: Scott Simpkins

One of my former professors, a great but humble man named Scott Simpkins, died this morning, in his home in Denton. I don’t know any more about his death except that he’d been in poor health for some time, and that he will be dearly, dearly missed. One of the great joys of academic lifeContinue reading “In memoriam: Scott Simpkins”

Nine years ago today…

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 “Nine years ago today…”

A Writer’s Notebook: “Casting a Wide Net”

This week, another exercise from Scott McCloud’s Making Comics. In this exercise, McCloud asks us to create a cast of characters that share one trait (from a list of traits–see below) but are different in at least four other ways. These academics are my four characters (in the order I wrote them). Sandra: 45, aContinue reading “A Writer’s Notebook: “Casting a Wide Net””

One tragedy in academia

Among my various pet causes (promoting nonviolence, encouraging the creative writing of kids and teens, supporting increased awareness about breast cancer), one of the most recent for me is bullying. Usually, we associate bullying with the schoolyard, and when the news reports on bullying (and it has been reporting on it more in recent years,Continue reading “One tragedy in academia”

Photo blog 11

This is not a spectacular photo, I know, but I wanted to post it in honor of the 75th birthday of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama (6 July).  While he is not formally my teacher, I have received teachings from him, including teachings on Tara (the female bodhisattva of compassion, whose Chinese name isContinue reading “Photo blog 11”

A Writer’s Notebook: Character details

This story I’m writing about the character named Ford is ballooning, but in the best way–each week I find new ways to build it, expand it, let it breathe. But more on that below.  Right now, five quick questions to help flesh out the character of Ford: a) What are the character’s physical attributes, fromContinue reading “A Writer’s Notebook: Character details”

To read or not to read? READ!

The other day, my writer/rock star friend Ryan Werner sent me a link to an article titled “The 10 Most Harmful Novels for Aspiring Writers.” The gist of the article is that people should stop reading certain books, by certain authors, because those books suck us into pale imitations and lock us out of ourContinue reading “To read or not to read? READ!”

The importance of Prince Henry the Navigator was in the inspiration

If I ever have a chance to teach a freshman seminar course — to explain to students in their first several weeks what it’s going to take to succeed in college and what the value of their education might be — this would be my entire syllabus: Peg took courses, a different course each winter,Continue reading “The importance of Prince Henry the Navigator was in the inspiration”

National education standards?

People who know me know how ready I am to rail against standardized education.  I have long believed in student-based teaching, so while I agree that we ought to hold our students to some level of excellence, the standards of that excellence should be established in cooperation with the students–each student should have not onlyContinue reading “National education standards?”