All posts by Trudy

Radical Reach: Thinking On Art as Activism by Mary Carroll-Hackett

Hands writing with a quill
 

In my own personal experience, art, poetry especially, has always been political, has always been protest, rooted in my own mixed ethnic and poverty-class background. It rose from my father’s Irishness—Dad reciting Yeats regularly, the earliest poetry of my memory, those lines documenting our family history in Easter 1916, the heartbreaking tales told round our table of “the troubles” and what they referred to not as a famine, but as ‘the Great Hunger.” It grew from my mother’s childhood in abject Appalachian poverty, the barbs I knew personally of class divisions, the broken Southern diction … Continue reading Radical Reach: Thinking On Art as Activism by Mary Carroll-Hackett

Taking the Right Step by Cheryl Traylor

Concrete stairs surround by greenery
 

Life doesn’t come with an instruction manual. We are not handed a guide at birth entitled Fail-proof Steps to Living This Life. As such, I’ve lived most of my life through a lot of trial and error—heavy on the error side. I’ve also learned that sometimes I just have to take the next right step and try not to run the entire marathon at once. I’m getting ok with that practice. There is a source that I go to often for life advice. Poet Mary Oliver never fails to enlighten me or ease my weariness. She … Continue reading Taking the Right Step by Cheryl Traylor

Chosen by Mariflo Stephens

Girl writing in notebook
 

I started to become a writer with the first writing exercise I was ever given. I was 12. Mrs. A, my seventh-grade teacher, called it a ‟theme.” She said a theme should have a title, like ‟I Like Horses,” and then the paragraphs that followed would explain why the author liked horses. I did like horses, so that’s what I wrote: “I Like Horses.” When the themes were graded and passed back, I saw I’d made a C. My theme had too many misspellings and was too short. My teacher was also bothered by the … Continue reading Chosen by Mariflo Stephens

An Interview with author Sharon Harrigan


 

I met Sharon one Saturday morning in late September at Writer House in Charlottesville, Virginia after dropping a writer off at the train station who had been at Porches writing retreat. We talked about Playing With Dynamite, a memoir about her father who died in a mysterious and bizarre accident when she was seven. Sharon: It’s cool to be talking to you because I was at Porches when I made the final edits on the book. It was my last opportunity to make any changes so it felt like it was high stakes and I … Continue reading An Interview with author Sharon Harrigan

When Called, Say Yes

highway with streaming car lights
 

An essay on creative process by Rachel E. Diken The Open Road had long been a solace to me, until a highway crash many years ago where faulty brakes caused a high-speed tumbling wreck. I was moving from the Northeast to New Orleans, so the vehicle was packed with everything I owned: primarily, a dozen backpacks full of the poems, essays, and notebooks documenting my travels. As I was loaded into the ambulance, I saw my pages of writing floating through the air, carried away by the wind over the highway. The experience marked a … Continue reading When Called, Say Yes

Sitting Out by David Roach

Screened-in porch
 

I am but a mouthful of sweet air – W.B. Yeats I take special pleasure in sitting outdoors. There’s displeasure, too, in the form of bugs and mercurial weather that I can’t control, but mostly I take pleasure. The smells, the sounds, the constant dramas played out in the flight of birds, bees, and butterflies, the feel of the grass on my bare feet and the breeze on my skin—they all combine to make life outdoors feel richer and more immediate. Outdoors, food tastes better. Maybe it’s the relaxed atmosphere around the picnic table or … Continue reading Sitting Out by David Roach

What I Saw in Charlottesville on August 12, 2017 by Cora Schenberg

Snack squad holding food and their sign
 

At 7:40am, the streets of downtown Charlottesville are eerily quiet. If not for the barricades, it would be hard to believe these streets will soon teem with people: busloads of Nazis come for the Unite the Right rally, and counter-protesters, like us. Some people told us to stay away this morning. Terry Sullivan, president of the University of Virginia, where I teach in the German Department, urged us not to risk getting caught in the violence. But as a Jewish Germanist, I know too well what happens when you don’t stand up to Nazis. Besides, … Continue reading What I Saw in Charlottesville on August 12, 2017 by Cora Schenberg

“Girl, I Hear You’re Fast” Barry Hannah, Old Blue and the Most Valuable Writing Lesson I’ve Ever Learned

electric typewriter
 

by Mary Carroll-Hackett   I move too fast. Always have. I talk fast, walk fast, read quickly, even had to be taught as a child to slow down while eating, Mama saying things like It’s not a race, Mary, or You know no one’s coming to take that away from you. I was the child she had to keep by the hand if she were to keep me from running too far ahead in stores, racing my way up stairs and escalators, or headlong down them. Sometimes that speed has worked to my advantage, later, … Continue reading “Girl, I Hear You’re Fast” Barry Hannah, Old Blue and the Most Valuable Writing Lesson I’ve Ever Learned

Remembering Denis Johnson

cover of Jesus' Son - stories by Denis Johnson
 

       by Laura Marello   Many people knew him better and longer. Many can say more articulate things about his work. I always loved him so much. I remember many details of our ten months at the Fine Arts Work Center Provincetown. For those ten months, I lived two doors down from Denis Johnson in Provincetown in 1981-82 when we were both writing fellows there. Tama Janowitz lived between us. I remember so much about it. He had not yet published his first book. He did so that spring. When I first met him, he toasted … Continue reading Remembering Denis Johnson

Meeting Mrs. Kahn

Wall of gold stars
 

I did the same thing in the first two minutes upon meeting her for the first time that I did while sitting with a friend of more than 20 years two days before. I cried. I felt humbled and felt the tears well up, and I let them stay. I didn’t wipe my eyes. I didn’t worry about my mascara smudging or my nose running. I said what I felt: that I was honored to have met her. And then I thanked her for her service to our country. I met Mrs. Kahn, the mother … Continue reading Meeting Mrs. Kahn