MFA

Lee Martin: artists must risk failure

April 10, 2013 | 16 Comments

Celebrated novelist & memoirist discusses how he became an artist. In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities; in the expert’s mind there are few. . . . This is also the real secret of the arts: always be a beginner. Be very very careful about this point.— Suzuki Roshi, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind I’m trying to learn from Lee Martin whenever and however I can, as a writer and teacher. I haven’t yet made it to his celebrated fiction—one of …

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Lore of a gravedigger’s daughter

March 24, 2013 | 15 Comments

It takes a village to raise a child, and my village was the graveyard.—from Rachael Hanel’s memoir We’ll Be the Last Ones to Let You Down: Memoir of a Gravedigger’s Daughter by Rachael Hanel. University of Minnesota Press, 177 pp. Rachael Hanel grew up in a sleepy Minnesota town where old people “have more faith that cars will stop for them than they have in Jesus Christ.” But where her gravedigger father could joke, with a darker edge than any …

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AWP: Day One

March 7, 2013 | 7 Comments

Setting up & already networking at earth’s biggest writers’ confab. Guest Post by Janice Gary I arrived in Boston a day earlier than the start of the conference courtesy of Winter Storm Sandy. With time on my hands, I was able to help Goucher MFA Director Patsy Sims set up her table and get an inside look at the Expo Center. So what happens early? Folks drag their posters and brochures and books into the halls, greet old friends, and …

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A new flash nonfiction manual

October 21, 2012 | 14 Comments

The Rose Metal Press Guide to Writing Flash Nonfiction: Advice and Essential Exercises from Respected Writers, Editors, and Teachers edited by Dinty W. Moore. Rose Metal Press, 179 pp. They furnished off an apartment with a two-room Roebuck sale The coolerator was crammed with TV dinners and ginger ale But when Pierre found work the little money coming worked out well C’est la vie, say the old folks, it goes to show you never can tell —Chuck Berry, “You Never …

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About writers’ conferences

June 24, 2012 | 18 Comments

When I was farming, at first it surprised me how much farmers love conferences—just like everybody else. Isolated most of the time, farmers liked to get together, have a learning vacation, stay in a motel with a pool for the kids. I already knew they’d adopted the digital world, its message boards and email lists. Just like writers, whose own conferences bear a striking similarity—though lacking booths devoted to kelp meal and artificial insemination. The mother of all writing conferences, …

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There’s something about memoir

May 13, 2012 | 9 Comments

. . . and what writers rarely admit about rejection & revision I have a lot of friends who are fiction writers, and they all told me that writing a memoir is different—and hard.—Darin Strauss, in The Washington Post Darin Strauss became a memoirist with Half a Life, reviewed here, after publishing three acclaimed novels. I came across his admission above just after a scholar/essayist/travel writer who was visiting our campus told me, when she heard I was writing a …

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Q&A: Lee Martin’s ‘Such a Life’

May 6, 2012 | 9 Comments

Stay in love with the journey.—Lee Martin Such a Life by Lee Martin. University of Nebraska Press, 214 pp. Lee Martin, an accomplished novelist, is also a master of life stories. His memoir From Our House focuses on his fraught relationship with his father, whose hands were mangled in a corn picker when Martin was a baby. Martin had been conceived accidentally to parents married late, his father thirty-eight and his mother forty-one, and his father had wanted to abort …

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