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A candle tree

Jeannine Hall Gailey’s Poem “Repeton In Winter” Appeared In Nar Issue 301.4.

While writing my newest book, Field Guide to the End of the World, I was careful to balance its darker themes – including mass extinctions, conspiracy theories, ecological disasters, and plagues – with lighter influences, from Cupcake...

The 2004 massive earthquake and subsequent tsunami in the Indian Ocean topped the charts as one of the deadliest natural disasters ever recorded. What grabbed my attention was not the heartbreaking aftermath, but the unbelievably long buildup to the event. As a science writer, I regularly meet with scientists and engineers who are doing fascinating work. Several years ago, I spoke with an Earth scientist who had measured the size of the earthquake that caused the tsunami. In order to help me...

I have never been able to write at home. I can edit at home, but I cannot create. “Writing at home” is code for doing laundry, watering plants, googling my name, grooming my eyebrows, checking email, researching anti-frizz product, eating chocolate, decoupaging planters and petting the dog. Because of my complete lack of at-home-self-discipline I have always written at a Starbucks. This practice started in 1999 when I lived in Seattle, WA, which makes sense given Seattle is the birthplace of...

Beowulf

In my review of J.R.R. Tolkien’s translation of the Old English poem Beowulf (issue 298.1), I allude to the Oxford professor’s radical interpretations of certain sections of the poem; however, space limitations in the print magazine didn’t allow me to elaborate on those interpretations, so I spoke with the NAR editors about using their blog to further discuss Tolkien’s rebel readings.
The...

Cover Issue 300.3

A note from the author: Congratulations on your Bicentennial issue in which I am delighted to have a part. It will surprise you to know that at 91 I am perhaps your oldest contributor ever (perhaps...

Paul Crenshaw blog

The assignment is this: explicate your favorite song as we have been explicating poetry for the last several weeks in Introduction to Literature. I get mostly the usual: Britney Spears or Kelly Clarkson from the sorority girls; some Dylan...

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,...

Often, when I teach fiction writing workshops, I feel a bit like a guy peddling fortune cookies, each with a classic saw about craft inside. Show, don’t tell . . . Put your character in a tree and throw rocks at them . . . A problem with endings is a problem with beginnings. My students nod kindly. Many of them are science majors, taking a detour into humanities (or more often fulfilling a requirement) and they take notes, as if they plan on returning to these sage pearls of wisdom...

I don't recall which celebrity had supposedly died, but a wire service had scooped the competition with an obituary and the news spread from there. Soon thereafter the celebrity issued a press release, not as witty as "the report of my death was an exaggeration", but in the same vein. Red-faced, the news service retracted the obituary. I suspect they eventually republished the obituary more-or-less verbatim when the personality passed away, much like an accountant getting a customer's credit...

justin

One of the things I like most about my illustration assignments is that I have the opportunity to face challenges that get me out of my creative comfort zone. My first assignment from North American Review did just...

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