Sunday, October 21, 2012


When I was a child
I played by myself in a
corner of the schoolyard
all alone.
I hated dolls and I
hated games, animals were
not friendly and birds
flew away.
If anyone was looking
for me I hid behind a
tree and cried out “I am
an orphan.”
And here I am, the
center of all beauty!
writing these poems!

I'm memorizing this poem, "Autobiographia Literaria," 
by Frank O'Hara for A Cup of Jo's Fall Challenge #2
Photo: The Sartorialist

Thursday, October 11, 2012

god knows it has nothing to do with the heart

You say that everything is very simple and interesting
it makes me feel very wistful, like reading a great
                                      Russian novel does

from Yesterday Down at the Canal, Frank O'Hara, 1961

Thursday, October 4, 2012

even the doubt

When I teach, I tell my students:
Write. Trust your own voice, your own instincts. Learn your own process. Write. Learn what works for you and trust in that. Writing is a discipline. No doubt. It takes persistence, hard work, and drive. It is about working and reworking a passage, a page, or the arc of a story until it breathes. There is a learned ruthlessness that writing demands, when you can go back through a manuscript and pare out what you love—strip even those lines you most long to keep—it gives what remains a kind of luminous intensity. And there is also that other ineffable, but deeply essential aspect of the process: what is mystical, Muse-given—the obsession, the inspiration, even the doubt—all of which to my mind are only different turns of the same coin. from Life in Fiction by Dawn Tripp in the Rumpus
  Photo: Samuel Barnes' Bruno Munari mask making workshop 

with my daylight mind

I write for the same reason I read: to free fall into a story and live in that world for a while. My novels begin in tiny glimmers—of character, story, scene. When those pieces surface in me, I feel them, not with my mind, but in the body. They have a feverish intensity—a dreamlike immediacy—they feel alive. And when a story comes to me that way, I begin to write into it longhand to see how it evolves. I toss that old rule Write what you know, and I write into what moves me, what I am impelled by. I’ll fill a notebook, sometimes two, and if that burn persists, if those bits of story are still zipping around like liquid silver in my veins or falling through me while I am out for a run with the dog, or washing the dishes, or down on the beach with my kids; if they continue to snap me awake at 3 a.m., if the story has that kind of life, even if I can’t see—with my daylight mind—how it will all come together or where it will go, if I continue to feel it that way, in the body, I know it’s a piece I am meant to write. from Life in Fiction by Dawn Tripp in the Rumpus
Photo: Samuel Barnes' Bruno Munari mask making workshop 

her voice from that concord

I stood listening to that musical vibration from my lofty slope, to those flashes of separate cries with a kind of demure murmur for background, and then I knew that the hopelessly poignant thing was not Lolita’s absence from my side, but the absence of her voice from that concord. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov via Jeffrey Eugenides in the NYT

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

in portland

And the stories we tell ourselves are not the only stories. Uses for Boys

Are you in Portland? I'm going to be at Wordstock on October 13-14. Come if you can. I'd love to meet you. 

Illustration by Yelena Bryksenkova for Sad Girls