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lucindaI don’t believe I can talk about why I wrote the poem “Orogeny” without first explaining why I set myself the task of writing about mountains.  In some ways, it was a deliberate act. But in other ways, as it always is with poetry, it was about instinct and passion, about how the words felt as they stood to...

If You Awake After I've Gone

I cleaned the glass to the woodstove
with wet newspaper. I didn't mean to
use the comics or the front page,
but you didn't miss much—

Summary: The world’s problems
are still the same and Sally hit Linus
in the head with her lunchbox
because he threw away her valentine.

A salmon laid her eggs this morning.
She turned sideways and glistened
silver. If the big white rock was Nevada...

Last spring, shortly after my story, “Borders”, was published in issue 299.2 of The North American Review, I received a check through the mail as payment for the rights to use the work.

It’s an odd thing, being paid for writing stories. It’s the same when I get royalty statements from my publishers for my latest novel,...

My story “I Was Shot by Someone in a Grey Sedan,” which appeared in NAR 298.3, is one of four I've written using hooks borrowed from pop fiction. I've always tried to vary my stories by using different methods to get them started, and I suppose I've had about five or six generation...

Just out of graduate school, only a few reasonable publications under my belt, I landed a job at a small Lutheran College in the upper Midwest. That neither my wife or I knew that far, flat land of small towns, corn farms, and dying industry didn't matter. What mattered was that we were off on a new adventure, that we were starting this new, gainfully employed part of our lives....

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....

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. ...

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