Writing Features

The Music in Prose

The best writing and what makes it sing

How to Improve Your Writing – Part 2: from Confucius to Lincoln

8 min read 1 English textbook 1 Style Guide, Illustrated 4 Writers:  Confucius to Lincoln le mot juste Improve writing immediately, ages 9 to 99 Toolbox AVAILABLE ON PODCAST Spotify I sat down with an English textbook* and read through the lessons on improving...

An Alabama Road

3 Min read Music Writing for the senses Songwriting AVAILABLE ON PODCAST SPOTIFY Each singer stepped towards the front of the stage, put a hand on the mike, and burst into five-part harmony. There are stars in the southern skySouthward as you goThere is moonlight and...

Town Mouse and Country Mouse

9 Min read 3 book recs 1 film rec True story: Coffee with "Josh" The Music in Prose: Willa Cather on town and country Wordnerd special AVAILABLE ON PODCAST Spotify * The town mouse and the country mouse. Distress and agitation of the town mouse. Meditations, Book...

Living Outside the Page

5 Min read Pickleball 3 short books by prize-winning authors Historical fiction, fiction, nonfiction AVAILABLE ON PODCAST SPOTIFY * If I don't write things down, they haven't been carried through to completion, they have only been lived. Annie Ernaux * Happy 2024! I...

The Music in the Stories: Pavan on Borges

7 Min read Book rec, three Borges stories Argentine composer and guitarist Carlos Pavan Literature: song and story Perfect memory Music in Prose * AVAILABLE NOW ON PODCAST SPOTIFY * Probably you were expecting a young and handsome Argentine, but then here I am, the...

Beyond Grade-School Sentences: Adding Depth and Texture to Writing

4 Min read Depth and texture in writing Cumulative and suspensive sentences The Music in Prose: Ernest Hemingway, Vivian Gornick, Ralph Waldo Emerson Crayon packs and colors Toolbox, improve writing immediately * AVAILABLE ON PODCAST Spotify iTunes * Grade-school...

Classic Prose: Thought and Presentation

4 min read 2 Book recs Toolbox, improve writing immediately Music in Prose, Ocean Vuong * AVAILABLE ON PODCAST Spotify iTunes * In the classic stand on the elements of style, writing is neither a way of thinking something out nor an art that exists for its own sake....

Poetry for Emergencies

For milestones, crises, and the unexpected

“Well-Intentioned Fools”

2 Min read Poetry for Emergencies On grief * AVAILABLE ON PODCAST * I came across this poem about the stupid things people say to each other after someone dies. * STEALING GRIEF By D. Adam BoazI think thatOne of the things we doWhen someone we know isHurtingIs say...

“We Lived, Felt Dawn, Saw Sunset Glow”

3 Min read Memorial Day Vietnam War Toolbox: Speech writing and public speaking Creative nonfiction / True story Poetry for Emergencies * AVAILABLE ON PODCAST * Last fall I received a request to be the speaker for Memorial Day. I was surprised and then I let it sink...

That Teacher, You Know the One

5 Min read Poetry for Emergencies: E.E. Cummings On music: J.S. Bach Commencement speech * AVAILABLE ON PODCAST * Let's take a moment for teachers. That teacher, you know the one. Because, I have a confession to make. In the lottery of life and learning, if you're...

On Poetry, Spring, and Transition

4 Min read Poetry for emergencies 2 Poets Mary Oliver on things Lao Tzu on excess * AVAILABLE ON PODCAST * When I moved from one house to anotherthere were many things I had no roomfor. What does one do? I rented a storagespace. And filled it. Years passed.First lines...

Involved and Implicated: Narcissism and Poetry

6 Min read Poetry on a December afternoon 1 Book rec Word nerd special AVAILABLE ON PODCAST Spotify If you're like me, you can use a bit of poetry. I've had a few days to consider this collection, its after shocks, surprised at my evolving response. Tony Hoagland's...

What’s in Your Trunk?

5 Min read New England's largest flea market* Poetry for Emergencies--on the folly of fame, legacy, empire Sonnet by Percy Bysshe Shelley Book rec on writing song lyrics Toolbox, use 7 senses to improve writing** Texan king in a cow pasture AVAILABLE ON PODCAST...

Fall is Like a Country Music Song

3 Min read Music and memory Norman Blake, Colter Wall Poetry for Emergencies * AVAILABLE ON PODCAST SPOTIFY iTunes * I'm listening to Colter Wall, titles like Corralling the Blues, Sleeping on the Asphalt, and The Devil Wears a Suit and Tie. I'm a late-comer to new...

Toolbox

To improve writing, ages 9 to 99

Not for Money, Fame, Love, or Anything Else*

5 Min read 2 Book recs: Joseph Nguyen and Ray Bradbury On work and creating Beyond suffering Toolbox, ages 9 to 99 Bonus - children's book and Tolstoy essay * If I had infinite money, already traveled the world, had no fear, and didn't receive any recognition for what...

“We Lived, Felt Dawn, Saw Sunset Glow”

3 Min read Memorial Day Vietnam War Toolbox: Speech writing and public speaking Creative nonfiction / True story Poetry for Emergencies * AVAILABLE ON PODCAST * Last fall I received a request to be the speaker for Memorial Day. I was surprised and then I let it sink...

How to Improve Your Writing – Part 2: from Confucius to Lincoln

8 min read 1 English textbook 1 Style Guide, Illustrated 4 Writers:  Confucius to Lincoln le mot juste Improve writing immediately, ages 9 to 99 Toolbox AVAILABLE ON PODCAST Spotify I sat down with an English textbook* and read through the lessons on improving...

How to Improve Your Writing – Part 1: from Tolstoy to Grohl

9 min read 1 English textbook 1 Book rec 1 Style Guide 4 Writers: Tolstoy to Grohl (of Nirvana and Foo Fighters) Improve writing immediately, ages 9 to 99 Toolbox AVAILABLE ON PODCAST Spotify * I doubt whether we are sufficiently attentive to the importance of...

On Flesh-Eating Beetles and Sins of the Mother

7 Min read Sense writing: traditional five plus two more 2 Reading recs: historical novel and story 1 Writing guide Improve writing immediately Toolbox, ages 9 to 99 AVAILABLE ON PODCAST Spotify * Writing Through the Seven Senses When I'm working on an aspect of my...

Spooky Hour with Spirits of the Dead

6 min read Word Work 2 Lexicons: Webster's NID 2nd Ed and Shorter OED 1 Book rec Halloween, All Saints' Day, All Souls' Day Fall mocktail, easy and delicious AVAILABLE ON PODCAST SPOTIFY Lakeview Cemetery next to my father's grave * No pressure but what are you doing...

What’s in Your Trunk?

5 Min read New England's largest flea market* Poetry for Emergencies--on the folly of fame, legacy, empire Sonnet by Percy Bysshe Shelley Book rec on writing song lyrics Toolbox, use 7 senses to improve writing** Texan king in a cow pasture AVAILABLE ON PODCAST...