The older I get, the more surely I understand that stories are all we have. That often the littlest stories are the ones that catch our heads and hearts.
When my son was born, I imagined it would be the big moments I’d cherish — the rolling over, crawling, walking, talking. And I do recall those things, but not as clearly as I remember tiny moments. I’ve realized, see, that he doesn’t need me to
Continue reading… "Listen. Stories Matter."
I think the magic of reading and writing is the startling places to which it whisks our brains and emotions, most notably the places inside ourselves that we’ve forgotten or didn’t know about in the first place.
I said that not long ago. I got to be part of the June 3 “Local Writers Read,” sponsored by SHARK REEF and Lopez Bookshop, and when I was asked to give a little bio and a few quotations to be used in my introduction, that’s what I said.
I was wrong.
Continue reading… "A Short Bit about Magic and Miracles"
If I have any advice, it’s to never write an intro like this at New Years.
First, intros are predisposed to summarize.
Second, New Years is downright freighted with reflections and expectations and resolutions and dejections and yearnings and lessons and dreams and hopes and failures and sins and second chances and the need to somehow box up all this, label it “last year,” and forge madly ahead.
Continue reading… "To Do Is To Be"
I want to be unabashedly forthright: Jon Pearson’s “Saving Santa” is not only my favorite piece in this edition of SHARK REEF, it is my favorite piece I’ve read in a long time.
That includes taking my eighth-grade students on a six-week romp through poetry, reading essays by E.B. White, Scott Russell Sanders, Annie
Continue reading… "Taking Risks"
I’m teaching again. Since I last taught five years ago, they’ve taken to calling my subject “language arts” instead of English, which is likely more accurate. English in a U.S. school is not the study of the language, nor is it grammar, literature, writing or linguistics. It’s somehow more and less than any one of these.
Continue reading… "Rules of Writing"
So much writing doesn’t say what it came to say. So much tries to say more than it was meant to, and sags and splits and spills adjectives and adverbs and unholy descriptive phrases. Or pieces try to cheat, saying less than they need to, and they fail, too.
The fine, hard writing might begin as something dark and rank, but in this bog the bones grow.
Continue reading… "Saying What You Mean"
I’m supposed to begin this deftly. Ease into it, the theory goes, because if readers know immediately that my piece is about death or birth or terminal illness, they will disregard it as yet another this-is-my-life-splayed memoir. So I hook them with something else, invite them in with a fascinating and benign anecdote that, later, once they are invested and I have sprung on them the death or birth or terminal illness, will become a clever metaphor for the entire piece.
Continue reading… "Into the Land of Wild things"
The first time I met Brian Doyle, he said, “To catch and tell stories: it’s so holy.” I’d heard people call stories many things, but I’d never heard someone call them holy. Never divine or near God.
Continue reading… "The Currency of Human Consciousness"
By Jeremiah O’Hagan Co-editor for prose We sat and smoked in the 2 a.m. December cold. It was windy and clear at the edge of Gasworks Park, and across Lake Union’s chop, Seattle blazed, a constellation of lights and lives arranged into a cityscape. High cloud cover glowed silky silver-yellow, the city’s reflection smeared across […]
Continue reading… "Words Taking on the World"
Some of your students will die. This is something teacher-ed classes don’t prepare you for. Your students might die tangled in the trees of a ravine, car parts strewn like confetti, or they might commit suicides, the whole world in front of them. But no one pulls you aside and tells you that. You have to learn the hard way.
Continue reading… "Crash"