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wired-cropedEmily Dickinson’s use of the dash was unique to the poetry of her time and became a mark of distinction, so to speak. It was as if she avoided ending certain key lines with standard periods and ellipses in order to give typographical recognition to a pause for thought. W.S. Merwin once said that he abandoned...

In my universe of Belgian children, some were orphaned, but many were abandoned by families left destitute in a worldwide depression or by unmarried women ashamed of being “in the family way.” The nineteen-thirties in Europe, as elsewhere, was an unforgiving time. I was parceled out by my French mother to the L’Institut de Puericulture in...

Art doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It needs receptors and the more the better. As writers we are used to reading to each other and to other readers. That is our comfort zone, preaching to the choir. Step out of it. Kick your way out if need be.

Writers tend to overlook the visual, the auditory, the kinetic experience when considering readings....

Jeanne Emmons's poem "Polio Water in 1955" was the James Hearst Poetry Prize winner in issue 291.2, Spring 2006.

Notes from the author:

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When you’re a writer, there are bad days and good days. Some days, you sit and write, and the words feel like they’re in someone else’s head; and some days, you write and the writing is fast and right, and you think that each word is a gift from some muse that really and completely loves and cares for you and what you have to say.

That’s the way it is for all of us, I think, but one of the things that I've come to feel about...

Iceberg in North Star Bay Greenland

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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...

COURAGE, CLARITY, TRUTH, UNCERTAINTY

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. 

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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...

One of the most salient revelations in The Great Gatsby, the origins of Jay Gatsby, née James Gatz, is embedded in Chapter 6 of the novel. We learn of Gatsby’s upbringing: a farm boy from North Dakota raised in poverty. He goes to college but drops out because he’s ashamed of having to support himself as a janitor.

Edward Fitzgerald, Fitzgerald’s father, whose wicker furniture business failed and who then lost a subsequent job with Proctor and Gamble, was reduced to living...

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