Recap of 2013 in Poetry

behind drawn curtains it’s so much easier to simply say you are confused. As a matter of belief. A white girl from the suburbs. Becoming aware of privilege on Saturday night. Your grandmother’s age-freckled hands around her favorite teacup Dog tags clicked against his chest our capacity to endure grief— what really counts in aContinue reading “Recap of 2013 in Poetry”

The Meaning Plot

The hardest part after the holidays is seeing off the family and friends I love best. Saturday night on Seattle’s light rail line, it was far too quiet with my brother boarding his flight to DC. So I got to thinking. What does it mean to live in the modern world? What does it mean to liveContinue reading “The Meaning Plot”

Passing Your Edge

So I don’t know about all you other writers and creative-types out there, but one question I can’t seem to answer is this: How do you know when to push past your edge–and when to accept this edge as part of who you are? After twenty years of shame and frustration over my introversion, I’ve finally made peace withContinue reading “Passing Your Edge”

Reblog Friday: Ash Beckham

Because sometimes we all need a little help speaking our truth–and honoring the many truths of others. This Friday my shout-out goes to Ash Beckham for helping us straight people better understand the courage of coming out through acknowledging our own hard conversations. And why we need to have them anyway.

Why American Students Lag Behind

Every so many months, another article gets trotted out in the news. American students have fallen further behind their peers in China, Norway, Sweden, Korea, Japan, Singapore, the U.K, and elsewhere. The common analysis is that our teachers are overburdened and poorly trained, and our math and science curricula fall short. But it’s taboo to talk aboutContinue reading “Why American Students Lag Behind”

Be of Good Courage

What’s the use of stories? One friend, a writer, argues that entertainment itself has value—to provide escape from our difficult lives and give us pleasure for a few hours. In a recent TED talk, novelist Elif Shafak encourages us to see stories as a way out of insular identities. Stories, she says, can “poke holes”Continue reading “Be of Good Courage”

42 and the Truth about Racism

Many American films about the pre-Civil Rights era depict black Americans as noble and long-suffering with whites equally one-dimensional: either hateful bigots or supportive do-gooders. 42 is not one of those films. Brian Helgeland’s script traces Jackie Robinson’s first season with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, as the first black ballplayer in the Major Leagues.Continue reading “42 and the Truth about Racism”

What I Learned from Writing a Killer

Two weeks ago, Robert J. Ray—easily the best teacher I’ve had in any subject—told me to start writing my killer’s backstory in first person. No way, was my knee-jerk response. Hell no. Last week, Jack Remick told me the same thing. Goddamn it, boys. These two men, lifelong writers and teachers now in their seventies,Continue reading “What I Learned from Writing a Killer”

Friday Reblog: Bryan Stevenson

Bryan Stevenson’s TED Talk I’ll be ending each week with a shout-out to someone who’s got something inspiring up on the web. And this week, I want to raise a glass to Bryan Stevenson and his TED Talk, “We Need to Talk about an Injustice.” His primary focus is on the racial inequities within the U.S. prison system–and the dramaticContinue reading “Friday Reblog: Bryan Stevenson”

When Character Counts

We all make assumptions. Every day. You assume that your waiter will take your order in a timely manner and treat you with decency. You assume that you will flip a switch, and the light will come on. And most of us assume that certain jobs can tell us certain things about the people who hold them. AtContinue reading “When Character Counts”