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Artist Statements

My wife has a fellow teacher friend who has a friend who writes an occasional column for a Swedish newspaper.  Evastina Bender was born in Sweden but has lived in the U.S. for many years now.  She thought it might be interesting to run a piece on me, emphasizing the connection between my writing poems and having driven public-transit buses in the Seattle area for thirty years.  We had a nice, long talk. ...

Iceberg in North Star Bay Greenland


My first novel, Secrets of the Tsil Café, was culinary fiction, with 26 recipes of my own invention. I like recipes. They provide a structure, also an...

A Room of One’s Own?

The truth is, I haven’t had a room of my own in almost twenty years.

The truth is, since 1996 I’ve been writing in a low-ceilinged attic that also serves as our ‘master’ bedroom.

I’ve written in parks and zoos and museums, in a writer friend’s poetry barn (she was with me, writing too), in my ki...

crodery_EW_finalToday’s Throwback Thursday pick is, “...


Sympathetic and unsympathetic voice is about intent: whom and what one is writing for. It is what separates the likably mediocre from the uncomfortably moving. 


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...

jsmelcer blog image


I recently told an artist friend how I had finally finished the book I had been writing for years, but that I couldn’t stop tinkering with it out of obsession because it was all I had...

Heart Wings

quebec-s4 Epistles to Mother Earth (Pt. 4) - Hummingbirds

I had my eyes on the sky for some time

& for a while I Watched those

clouds - horsed grew into impossible...


A_Spanish_Woman_G34A few years ago after the conclusion of another wonderful San Miguel Poetry Week in central Mexico, I traveled south to the city of San Cristobal de las Casas in the state of Chiapas. I had long wanted to go there because of its natural setting and the presence of age-old indigenous cultures in the...

For a long time I subscribed to a savior ideal of writing: if I could develop enough skill and find myself a platform, maybe I could tell the stories of those unable to speak for themselves. While environmental and animal welfare were and remain situations that I’d like to learn how to speak up about, many of my concerns are more humanitarian, and I find these a lot more complicated to approach. In my teens, I told myself I would travel. I would observe and study, and maybe if I listened...


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