Monthly Archives: April 2011

Get yer (priceless) writing advice here!

Friend Bill Lychack, author of the luminous The Architect of Flowers and The Wasp Eater  is interviewed over at Julianna Baggott’s blog here and the writing advice is pure, pure gold.

Go. Read it. Now.

Then go read his books.  If you haven’t already.

By the way, I pride myself on being a very good speller but a few words always trip me up.  One of them is rhythm.  The other, I’ve discovered in the past few months since Bill’s wonderful collection of stories debuted, is architect.   Thanks, Bill, for this new bit of self-knowledge.

Bye y’all,



Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Flashlight Memories: A Real Treat

I have a short essay, “The Library: It’s a Family Thing,” in this wonderful new book: Flashlight Memories, which is all about people’s early experiences with reading and books, otherwise known in academia as “literacy autobiographies” or “literacy narratives.”  Let me tell you, identifying and writing about where your love of literacy comes from can be a very powerful thing.

And let me tell you, I am one sucker for a good literacy narrative, so I love curling up with these reading memoirs as a reward at the end of a long, stressful day.  Memoirs like the one from the woman whose mother didn’t understand her longing to read in bed at night, who didn’t really understand her daughter’s longing to read period, but whose truck-driver grandfather encouraged her by secretly giving her a flashlight and an apply to snack on while she read, then secretly provided her with batteries and reading snacks for the rest of her childhood.  The stories are wonderfully written, not treacly, just good stories.

So what about you?  What’s your literacy story?

Post it in the comments section by May 15.  I’ll do a drawing May 15 and send a copy of Flashlight Memories to the winner!

Bye y’all,


PS  My essay concerns my mother’s childhood reading and library habit; the kicker is, that picture on the front really could have been her as a child.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

And now for something completely different

or maybe not–it concerns colleges and universities after all, which is where Wordamour teaches.  This Mama Ph.D. blog post at Inside Higher Ed reminded me of what has stayed in the back of my mind for years, of what makes me relieved, yes I’ll say it out loud, that I don’t have daughters.

I have been the victim of this culture, the culture of rape at colleges and universities and the culture of rape writ large.  My experiences are very similar to those expressed by Mama Ph.D.–only different because, of course, they are mine.  I won’t recount them here because they are so like the stories many of my gender peers could tell, they’re almost a cliche.

So I will simply bring your attention to this tip sheet.  If you are a woman, you will find it a very different tip sheet on personal safety than you are used to receiving in your email.

Let me ask, men who read this blog (and those I know do not support this culture), do you routinely receive recirculated well-meaning emails (I’ve sent a few myself) with tips about how to protect yourself in society?

We do.

Things are looking up for Wordamour, the vertigo is receding, the next post will be a happy one, but she could not pass up the opportunity to repost this tip sheet in the hopes of writing for change.

Read it. Please, recirculate it, for your daughters, your wives, your mothers, your friends, your lovers.  Use your words for change.

Bye y’all,


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Cover reveal!


At last, I can reveal the cover of Rethinking Creative Writing in Higher Education: Programs and Practices that Work.

Yes, I’m biased but I think it’s absolutely lovely:

My UK publishers at Professional and Higher, Anthony and Karen Haynes report that they have appointments with American publishers at the London Book Fair next week so keep your fingers crossed.  If you recall, a giant cloud of ash intercepted the appearance of American publishers at the London Book Fair last year.

The London Book Fair.  Doesn’t that sound great?  I want to go someday just for fun.  Guess I’ll have to add it to the bucket listt.

In other news, it’s been a strange week in Wordamour-land.  She returned from DC only to somehow contract a mysterious viral inner ear infection whose major symptom is wicked vertigo.   While she is improving she will be relieved when the world stops spinning. . .completely and in the meantime spends long periods of time trying not to make any sudden moves.

Blogging for NWP continues (see previous post) and spring has sprung in Arkansas.  This means, among other things, the annual Arkansas Literary Festival this weekend.  Wordamour is really jonesing to go, especially to support UCA peeps Robin Becker, Mark Spitzer, et al, but suspects the viral thing will also have its say on that matter.  We will just have to see.

Bye y’all,




Filed under Uncategorized

NWP Needs YOU! Blogging for NWP

Our goal is to reach 1,000 blog posts by April 8th to raise awareness about federal funding cuts to the National Writing Project.

Your story about what NWP has meant to you counts!  We NEED you to tell your story.  NWP has created a Posterous group blog as another way for people to participate and reach the 1,000 post goal.


Compose an email. The address for the email is

The subject line should be for the headline you want for the post.

Whatever you type into the body of the message will be the body of your post. Tell your story here about what the writing project has meant to you as a teacher, as a person.  Or tell your story about what it has done for your students.

Sign the email with your name and writing project site.

To view the blog go to (no www in the address).


Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

The winner and a story. . .


So the winner of the giveway, for writing to Congress to save NWP is. . .

Shauna Sanders!!!!

Congratulations, Shauna.

You’ll be receiving your signed copy of The Architect of Flowers in a few weeks.

I’m in DC this weekend lobbying along with hundreds of fellow teacher-leaders to try to secure the NWP’s footing on the national landscape.   Footing that has slipped as a result of the current Congress’ warpath on education.

Our visits to the hill yesterday were basically productive; we had some wonderful discussions with Senator John Boozman (such a gracious man), Mia Petrini, Senator Mark Pryor’s education aide, and Reps. Tim Griffin and Rick Crawford about how they could support the National Writing Project and the National Writing Projects of Arkansas.

But I do want to share a story.  There has been a lot of posturing on the hill about how these budget cuts are essential to “save this country” from financial ruin.  The powers that be patiently explained to us that the  belt tightening that cinches literacy programs and cuts deeply and disproportionately into education are necessary evils.

Yesterday, however, we talked to a cab driver who said he had enjoyed working the hill for years because our lawmakers took a lot of cabs and always asked him his opinions on current issues under debate.  Things had changed since January though, he told us.  He hadn’t gotten to know many of the members of this new Congress.

Why is that? we wanted to know.

“Don’t see em,” he told us.  “They all take limos.”

I guess some belts are tighter than others.

Bye y’all.



1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized