Finding a Form, Choosing a Genre, Embracing Your Nymph

A common question I get, since I wrote poetry and creative nonfiction, has to do with how I know what genre a piece of writing should be in. One answer I have given to this question is to say that the work will teach you its form, to just write, and see what shape it takes on. But there are other ways to think about genre, form, and what that thing you are writing wants to be.

Talking about Talk in Poetry

I was really delighted to have the chance to do a reading and conversation with John Gallaher about conversational rhythms, tones, and rhetorics as sources of inspiration towards poetic forms. Before the reading, John and I put together a list of books that have influenced our thinking about talk.

Against Defending an MFA Thesis, but in Praise of Reflections & Closure

I spent this week attending the thesis defenses of my graduate students. I don’t love the word “defense” in this context, as it implies an adversarial stance between mentors and student and suggests that an authority’s approval of a creative work matters. I tend to think to think the task of an artists is to imagine a way through and beyond what has been done before; “defending” requires very opposite impulses. But I do love defenses!

Finding Your Readers: Some Practical Publishing Advice

Whether or not you are seeking publishers for your work, studying the publishing landscape can be a really helpful way to imagine how your work might speak to its readers. There are so many fantastic magazines with such a diversity of aesthetics flourishing right now. But this abundance can make it hard for emerging writers to find the writers, publishers, and readers who will be most inspiring to them. To help navigate this terrain and find their place among the many writers flourishing right now, I give students the following assignment…

Seeing the Angles: An Exercise in Camerawork as Creative Revision

I’m a recent convert to Instagram — I missed the pictures-of-food years — but I have loved transforming my private practice of spotting and researching plants into a more public one that incorporates photography into the exercise. This practice has been reminding me how much the craft of poetic imagery overlaps with photographic techniques.