Teaching Good and Bad Writing: The Truly Avant-Garde

Most good writing is clear, vigorous, honest, alive, sensuous, appropriate, unsentimental, rhythmic, without pretension, fresh, metaphorical, evocative in sound, economical, authoritative, surprising, memorable, and light. –Ken Macrorie. These days it’s not popular to talk about good and bad writing.  In textbooks and “how to” writing manuals we’re plied with rules, advice and suggestions, but aren’t […]


Whenever I begin a new academic term I’m consistently reminded of Franz Kafka’s splendid parable “Before the Law.”  I believe it adequately sums up what Mike Rose in Lives on the Boundary calls the “mismatched expectations” of students who attempt to gain entrance into the academy.  School is made for their edification and enlightenment but […]

Seamus Heaney’s “The Peninsula”

A link to Seamus Heaney’s Nobel Prize Speech The Peninsula When you have nothing more to say, just drive For a day all around the peninsula, The sky is tall as over a runway, The land without marks, so you will not arrive But pass through, though always skirting landfall. At dusk, horizons drink down […]

On an Encounter with William Butler Yeats

This blog post is a brief response to Avies Platt’s memoir “A Lazarus Beside Me” which was printed in the London Review of Books.  It’s a charming narrative of a younger woman meeting the elder statesman of letters, but something in the telling rings false to me.  Not dishonest per se, but insincere.  That is, […]

University of Colorado Lecturer Kicked Off AWP Conference Committee for Racist Tweets

Los Angeles defense lawyer and conceptual poet Vanessa Place is offering a 2015 Maymester Humanities course at UC Boulder on technology and media poetics, specifically about the ways Twitter and blogging has altered art production and daily life.  Recently, Place has stirred up controversy and was removed from an Association of Writers and Writing Programs […]