I arranged ten desks in a circle in preparation for students the first day of my undergraduate poetry workshop. It was fall 2011—my first semester teaching in the English department at the University of Hawai‘i, Mānoa. The students filed in, …Read More
I’ve come to believe, after having written some myself, that every book worth half of what it’s printed on is about the true and vulgar ruination of a life. Tolstoy told me so and so did my therapist, a tall, …Read More
My first word.
My mother heard me say it in our brick house with blue shutters in Jacksonville, Florida. She had sung me the nursery rhyme many times, pretending to paddle a boat with her arms. Four pine …Read More
I live in Tucson. People tell me they love the images they see on my various social media feeds of the mysterious, moonscape desert that surrounds. Many of the friends, acquaintances, and strangers who follow me on social media live …Read More
Adapted from keynote address presented at the Red Clay Writers Conference, Kennesaw, Georgia, 9 November 2019
Southern literary giant Ernest Gaines was born in 1933 in pre–Civil Rights Louisiana. There was no high school for him to attend there …Read More
GOOGLE DOCS, AN AIRPLANE / MONTREAL, CHICAGO, AND AUSTIN /
3:10 P.M. CENTRAL TIME, 2 DECEMBER 2019.
People shoplift citizenship like it’s a mink stole rather than a spiked choker, a freedom from a failed idea or a drive toward …Read More
The first twenty minutes in line outside the bathhouse sound like thunder. The Broncos have just played—maybe won—at Mile High Stadium, and if it weren’t for a block of four-story apartment buildings we ’d be looking down on the city …Read More
Reinhabitation was my dream. But in rural America there’s a chasm between what is real and what is myth.
I lived my entire life to arrive on the farm. Ten years ago this quiet, quiet place had everything I wanted. …Read More
I would not be who I am today were it not for the Bomb.
Had there not been a bomb, my biological father—a Manhattan Project physicist—would not have died in 1951 from radiation-induced cancer a month before my fourth birthday, …Read More