April 25, 2012


It's the birthday of Ted Kooser, who puts together the "American Life in Poetry" that runs in newspapers (and online, of course). More about him here at Writer's Almanac, which included this note: He wanted to be a writer, but he flunked out of graduate school. So he took the first job he was offered, at a life insurance company, and he worked there for 35 years. He said: "I believe that writers write for perceived communities, and that if you are a lifelong professor of English, it's quite likely that you will write poems that your colleagues would like; that is, poems that will engage that community. I worked every day with people who didn't read poetry, who hadn't read it since they were in high school, and I wanted to write for them."

April 24, 2012


I've got my daddy's old rod and reel,
the red one with the soft cork handle.

It's got dents from where
his fingers used to go.

— Sheri Reynolds, "The Sweet In-Between"

April 19, 2012


He looked up. He said,
"What do you suppose
this word means?"
He held out the magazine
to me and pointed to the page.

I walked over to the bed
and looked. He was pointing
to the word metaphor.

He said, "It must mean like
a sign, a signal of some kind."

I said, "Like from outer space?"
He said, "Yes."

I said, "Like from God?"
He said, "I don't know."

We looked at the word
metaphor for a long time.
Neither of us dared
to pronounce it. It lay there
on the white page being itself,
like a signal from outer space.

— Lewis Nordan, "Music of the Swamp"

April 18, 2012


I never had caught a chicken.
I had had lots of bites,
but I never had landed one,
never really even set the hook in one.
They're tricky, a chicken.

— Lewis Nordan, "Sugar Among the Chickens"
(From the story collection "The All-Girl Football Team")

April 17, 2012

Lewis Nordan, 1939-2012

One of my favorite writers has passed away. Lewis Nordan wrote about a South that was magical and absurd and real. Author of "Welcome to the Arrow-Catcher Fair," "Music of the Swamp," "Wolf Whistle," "Lightning Song" and "Sugar Among the Freaks" and more.

(Photo by Miriam Berkley - from New York Times obituary.)

April 16, 2012

April 9, 2012

A hush

There was a silence
with things
going on in it.

— Dorothy Parker, "Here We Are"
("Best American Short Stories of the Century")