Winter for the writer: Anne Carson and ancient blindness

While I was in Las Vegas last weekend I picked up a copy of Anne Carson’s first collection of poetry, Short Talks. The Brick Books edition has an introduction by Margaret Christakos, who clearly understands the breadth of Carson’s work. Christakos points out to the reader the themes of winter landscapes in Short Talks, the use of reflection and light as tropes and what those might have to do with snow and ice and growing up in Ontario, as Carson did. Continue reading


Tapestry/The Noun Project 6 Icon Story Contest

Robin Sloan’s tap essay, “Fish”

If you’ve got a smart phone and you like clever things, you need to download the app Tapestry, which is a tool for reading and writing tap essays.

The tap essay is a new medium for storytelling that originated with Robin Sloan‘s beautiful story of what it means to really love something on the Internet. It’s called “Fish.”

The rules of tap essays are simple: 1) you click/tap to move forward in the essay, and 2) there’s no going backwards. This kind of straightforwardness makes the reader less likely to be distracted, and more likely to read the whole story instead of skimming. Although “Fish” is still my favorite tap essay, there are a few others out there that are definitely worthwhile. Browse the Tapestry site to see what I’m talking about.

Tapestry recently announced a partnering with The Noun Project, a site dedicated to amassing a library of symbols with universally understood meanings. The Noun Project hopes to create a kind of visual language that’s accesible to everyone to promote global communication.

The two sites are hosting a contest for storytellers to create a story in six icons, with no words.

If that sounds easy (“Hey, no writing involved!”), then perhaps you should  try your hand at it. I’ve been browsing The Noun Project’s library for the past hour trying to come up with a story that can be concisely told in six icons, and I am coming up empty-handed so far. Ugh.

If you think you’re up to the challenge, check out the contest rules here, and get to… um… “writing.”

Update: You can, um, “read” my 6 icon story here. It is kind of sad and kind of funny. I hope that you like it.

In Praise of Joe – Marge Piercy

I am finishing my final papers of the semester today. While I realize how far I have come as a writer these past couple years, I am also learning that there are some writing skills that I just don’t have yet. I intend to spend the rest of this year — especially this summer — chasing down these skills.

On multiple occasions I have tried to write an ode to coffee. It is, in a very real way, the reason I get out of bed in the morning. Today my friend Sarah directed me to this poem by Marge Piercy: it is precisely what I have been trying to write for months, except better. This skill that Piercy has, whatever it is, is what I am seeking.

Here’s to finishing the semester strong, to finding what you’re looking for, and to coffee.

*  *  *

In Praise of Joe

I love you hot
I love you iced and in a pinch
I will even consume you tepid.

Dark brown as wet bark of an apple tree,
dark as the waters flowing out of a spooky swamp
rich with tannin and smelling of thick life—

but you have your own scent that even
rising as steam kicks my brain into gear.
I drink you rancid out of vending machines,

I drink you at coffee bars for $6 a hit,
I drink you dribbling down my chin from a thermos
in cars, in stadiums, on the moonwashed beach.

Mornings you go off in my mouth like an electric
siren, radiating to my fingertips and toes.
You rattle my spine and buzz in my brain.

Whether latte, cappuccino, black or Greek
you keep me cooking, you keep me on line.
Without you, I would never get out of bed

but spend my life pressing the snooze
button. I would creep through wan days
in the form of a large shiny slug.

You waken in me the gift of speech when I
am dumb as a rock buried in damp earth.
It is you who make me human every dawn.
All my books are written with your ink.