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creative writing

Though writing may be my calling, music is my passion, and I often turn to music for lessons about writing. Just now, for example, through my earbuds iTunes shuffled from Big Sean to the opening adagio of Dmitri Shostakovich’s Babi Yar symphony. The lesson? Transitions are for those who need everything explained to them.

They Might Be Giants and Robyn Hitchcock, using lyrics that sound like they come straight from textbooks, teach me music is not genetic to language but grown in...

One of the first pieces I accepted when I became nonfiction editor for NAR in 2008 was “The Malignancy of Beginnings” by Rafael Torch. I fell in love with this dark and gorgeous memoir of a man fighting abdominal cancer while his wife fought against, not a tumor, but an unwanted fetus growing in her abdomen. The parallels frightened me when I first noticed them: the husband fingering the lumps in his belly, moving them from side to side like golf balls. The wife...

Our first journey from womb to earth is a gendered passage. From our first words, the language we speak and later read and write is informed by gender. The origin of “gender” is from the Latin (Oxford English Dictionary) generare, meaning: to “produce by natural processes, to give rise to, engender.” I was struck by the softening “en” of “engender,” which felt like a blurring of gender’s certainty. My OED defines “engender” as transitive...

Thomas M. Atkinson's short story "Standing Deadwood" was featured in issue 294.3/4, spring/summer 2009. This is the first half of the story and the conclusion will be posted tomorrow, Sunday June 7, 2015.

"STANDING DEADWOOD"

The raccoon took a crap in my truck last night. Inside the cab, in the cup-holder. I was still a little bleary this morning and my coffee...

About ten years ago I wanted to write an article about how writers, who often teach composition courses, are the last people on Earth who should be teaching composition courses. I had good arguments: First of all, it’s hard for writers to understand and communicate with people who so dislike writing that they only take a writing class when it’s required, and, second, we don’t spend as much time thinking about grammar as administrators might like. Above all, I thought, people who write...

Thirteen years since I started teaching my Creative Writing class at Douglas County Jail just outside Lawrence, Kansas.  Thirteen years, hundreds of classes, thousands of inmates in my class over the years.

I’ve taught for over twenty years at the University of Kansas.  I’ve taught in France, Senegal, Zambia, Japan and England.  But there’s no doubt at all that my writing class at Douglas County Jail has been the best teaching experience of my life.

I was there again on...

A strong breeze blew under a sunny sky as I drove up to the gate at Fort Snelling in Minneapolis. Climbing down through the top hatch of an M46 Patton tank, I began a profound journey.  Wind gusts swirled around the tank body, but were they also ghostly voices of the crew? I turned quickly in the small space behind the assistant driver and banged my head on the breech block, a moment of searing pain. I panicked. Did I hear...

strange collage

My favorite poetic technique of the moment is collage, specifically collage by quotation. I love how collage is so disruptive, so...

Superstition Review: Our Lucky Issue 13

Issue13Cover234x160Even though our magazine is named...

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