Friday, September 04, 2015


Apocalypse: Exploring Dystopianism in Texts

Honored to be asked to keynote this conference at the University of North Alabama. My tenth keynote, BTW.

My talk: "The Plan is Death: Imagining the End with James Tiptree, Jr."

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Misplaced Modifier

My all-time favorite misplaced modifier:
Abortion is defined as the removal of the fetus by the Random House Dictionary.
 Heard in a freshman public speaking class in 1967. I cracked up, and everybody glowered at me. (In study hall in high school I often found myself reading the MMs in the English text book.)

Getting Back to a Long Unfinished Project

Not saying any more than this for the time being.

Sarah and Tara (and "Eden's Wish")

My copy of M. Tara Crowl's first book arrives today.

Below Tara and BFF Sarah Lavery from their childhood.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Understanding a Sewing Machine: A Visual Guide

Hostage Situation

A colleague at Brunel once wrote on a student's essay: "Your paper has made me give up the will to live."


And here is Mary Oliver's extraordinary poem about a swan.

The Swan

Mary Oliver

Across the wide waters

          something comes

                   floating—a slim

                             and delicate

ship, filled

          with white flowers—

                   and it moves

                             on its miraculous muscles

as though time didn’t exist

          as though bringing such gifts

                   to the dry shore

                             was a happiness

almost beyond bearing.

          And now it turns its dark eyes,

                   it rearranges

                             the clouds of its wings,

it trails

          an elaborate webbed foot,

                   the color of charcoal.

                             Soon it will be here.

Oh, what shall I do

          when the poppy-colored beak

                   rests in my hand?

                             Said Mrs. Blake of the poet

I miss my husband’s company—

          he is so often

                   in paradise.

                             Of course! The path to heaven

doesn’t lie down in flat miles.

          It’s in the imagination

                   with which you perceive

                             this world,

and the gestures

          with which you honor it.

                   Oh, what will I do, what will I say, when


          white wings

                   touch the shore?


Selling . . .

How to Write Good

Blame Canada!

RIP, Oliver Sacks

Tuesday, August 25, 2015


Wallace Stevens/"Ray Donovan"

On Ray Donovan ("Swing Vote," 3.6) I was surprised to hear Paige Finney (Katie Holmes) citing Wallace Stevens in a bar. She tells Ray that Stevens was "two things, the vice-president of an insurance company and one of the 20th century's best poets," and then she quotes admiringly the aphorism from "Adagia":
Money is a kind of poetry.