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Writing starts from the world—doesn’t it?—something you see or hear, or hear about. Newspapers. TV. Restaurants. Coffee Shops. Family Reunions. Bus Stops . . . a “trigger,” was how Richard Hugo put it, and it arrives from anywhere, anytime, like meteors, fish bites, hail, or dawn. Sometimes it can be as simple as a word. Take sabotage, coming to us from sabot, the French word for wooden shoe. The first instances of “sabotage” were likely peasant revolts against oppressive landowners,...

Ann and I were staying at a VRBO apartment on the edge of Austin, visiting our daughter, when I picked from the bookshelf there, mildly curious, a paperback copy of Haruki Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore; I remembered having read a review when it first appeared. The title had caught my attention, and kept it even after I realized that there was no...

We have always been something of a war society in the U.S., but since 2003 something far more sinister than anything I’ve witnessed has sprouted from the seeds of violence from what critics have called a coup d'état of our United States Constitution after September 11th.



It’s the last day of my introductory poetry writing class, and my students are giving their recitations and presentations for a final project I call “Live with a Poem.” One...

strange collage

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


North American Review
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