My dad used to tell a story about his first job at a California aircraft company. The new head offices had a problem. The roof leaked on the President's desk and the famous architect who designed the structure refused to address the problem. "It's a work of art," he is supposed to have said. The [...]


I was reading an article in Time magazine about oral histories, how we should all be keeping coronavirus journals because such personal stories add texture to historical accounts. Katherine Sharp Landdeck is the author of The Women with Silver Wings: The Inspiring True Story of the Women Airforce Service Pilots of World War II, and found [...]

Assignment #5: weird revision [last]

During April, I gave my students poems. Poetry was one of the fatalities of the misguided school reforms of a couple decades ago which insisted English teachers toss most of our curriculum in for a focus on nonfiction. Don't get me wrong, I had always included nonfiction in my curriculum, but we all deserve poetry [...]

Assignment #5: color poem

This last assignment is poetry. Below are two 20-minute poem prompts. Choose. IMPORTANT: My 20-minute exercises were inspired by prompts provided in the back of Dorianne Laux and Kim Addonizio’s marvelous craft book, The Poet's Companion: A Guide to the Pleasures of Writing Poetry (W.W. Norton, 1997). Their original exercises are much better than mine. (You [...]

assignment #4 revision: Idyll

Hello. Before the revision strategy, a confession. I have been in a bit of a muddle lately. I "turned off" the news two days ago—tossed the email updates unread, and stopped checking news sources online or Johns Hopkins statistics. I think it did me some good to take a break. For example, I noticed I'd [...]