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"
Writing is an adventure. We often start out heading in one direction with a piece and, many drafts later, find ourselves moving down another completely undreamed of path. Reading is another kind of adventure. When we begin, we might think we know where the writer is taking us and, again, wonderfully, end up going down
Continue reading… "Adventures in Reading and Writing"
We’re literary geeks and love the chance to read almost anything crafted with care. So, in late night sessions, we greedily consume submissions which had voyaged through East Coast sloughs, paddled Pacific bays, and trickled down backwoods Alabama creeks and which came via internet from all over the U.S. and a few other countries
Continue reading… "Why Read a Literary Journal?"
Welcome to the Summer 2011 edition of SHARK REEF, where you’ll visit a wedding party in the Andes; join a group of elderly women in a communal bath in Japan; or watch as a nurse midwife deftly knits Mexico to Seattle and drops more than a few stitches in the process. Consider Hiking Naked. What happens will surprise you.
Continue reading… "Intro"