“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””

Good-bye, New York

Good-bye, Manhattan. Good-bye, Hilton New York. Good-bye Best Western President. Good-bye, Chrysler Building. Say hi to the others — I’ll catch them next time. Good-bye, Broadway. Good-bye 5th Avenue. Good-bye 59th Street. Good-bye corner of Grove and Benton — what great Friends you made. So long, Times Square. You’re a little flashy, but I likeContinue reading “Good-bye, New York”

Three things: notes from yesterday

To try and catch up from yesterday, I’m sitting on the floor against an out-of-the-way pillar in the conference hotel, writing this over a tiny, cold, and weirdly tasteless portabella mushroom sandwich that cost $7.50. Anywhere else, this sandwich would have come from a vending machine and cost $1.25, but this is New York. WhenContinue reading “Three things: notes from yesterday”

On friends, lions, and Friends again

This morning, I woke early and walked the dozen blocks to the conference hotel so I could hit the first session of panel presentations on the schedule. The panel I attended was a discussion about creative writers and their careers as teachers. Strangely, every member of the panel managed to utter at least one witheringContinue reading “On friends, lions, and Friends again”

Writing vs. Writing

A friend of mine, a brilliant poet named Bri Pike, was writing in her blog about the distinction between writing as hobby and writing as serious craft, and I found her comments so interesting I felt compelled to respond. So did another writer-friend of mine, the essayist and memoirist Crystal Elerson. Our resulting three-way conversation,Continue reading “Writing vs. Writing”

The art of revising

Tonight, while discussing the new film Becoming Jane with my wife, Jennifer, I was struck by a thought about writers in film in general. The past several years, I’ve been keeping an informal, mental list of films featuring writers (or, at least, the films I’ve enjoyed)–films like Finding Forrester or Wonderboys or Stranger Than Fiction–even,Continue reading “The art of revising”

Madeleine L’Engle

Madeleine L’Engle has died. When Kurt Vonnegut died on April 11 of this year, I kept silent most of the day and mourned the rest of the week. Vonnegut had a huge impact not only on my early fiction-writing but also on my early philosophical development: In both areas, he taught me not to takeContinue reading “Madeleine L’Engle”

A note about the profile photo:

My profile photo* is of Tsongkhapa, founder of the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism. Poor student of Buddhism though I am, the study is important to me, and Tsongkhapa is among my favorite Buddhist poets and teachers. He is considered an incarnation of Manjushri, the Buddha of Wisdom, who is in turn usually considered theContinue reading “A note about the profile photo:”