If, like me, you’ve been haunted by headlines and images of people risking all to flee desperate conditions in the Middle East, perhaps you might want to understand more — Who are they, What are their stories, their motivations, their fates? The second of my Ploughshares blogs discusses three novels that take us there, into the heart of the migration crisis and the lives of individuals caught up in it.
In my first blog post for the journal Ploughshares, I explore Kanishk Tharoor’s radio series, “The Museum of Lost Objects,” and his luminous story collection, Swimmer Among the Stars. In both, Tharoor’s stories remind us of the power of empathy and connection in our shared experience and the need for imagination, even playfulness, in times of adversity.
I read a craft tip recently from the poet Maggie Smith (author of The Well Speaks of Its Own Poison, Tupelo Press 2015, among other works) that really resonated with me:
Sometimes the best thing I can do to improve a poem is to loosen my grip on it. It sounds a bit counterintuitive, but if you tie up every loose end, if you scrub all the strangeness and wildness out of it, you can revise the life right out of a poem if you’re not careful. You can put its light out. (more of Maggie Smith’s wise words here on Diane Locward’s Poetry Newsletter)
This past winter in Washington, DC was a season of closures. Schools, businesses, government offices, and public transportation all shut down for several days amid a series of snowstorms. Even after the last pile of snow disappeared, the area’s ageing metro transit system has had to undergo repeated closures for trackwork repairs and assessments.
For me the season was a blessed time for going nowhere. Snowed in and stranded, I took to my own repairs and assessments. I wrote, I waited, I wrote more. Continue reading
We started with the little things: scraps of junk, things of no import or stuff we could do without. But soon we had to burn the things we needed, the things we loved. By the end, we let go of just about everything around us we held dear. We tossed it into the flames and watched it smolder.
So begins my story on the Siege of Sarajevo, out in the fall issue of Carve Magazine here, along with the award-winning stories from the Raymond Carver Short Story Contest. Continue reading
In my experience, joining a class, workshop or group with fellow writers is one of the best antidotes to a solitary writing life that can feel lonely at times. The feedback and support one receives from peers, not to mention the motivation to meet deadlines and keep working at revisions, is invaluable.
Janis Cooke Newman’s recent article, “Everyone Needs a Writing Tribe,” in Lithub covered all those advantages of a writing circle, and more. Continue reading
I love listening to podcasts, particularly of great storytellers talking about their craft. Here are a few of my favorites that inspire me to keep up the soulful work of being a writer. If you’re feeling in need of some inspiration, take your pick of these remarkable interviews with some of the best storytellers and creative thinkers of our time: