In which you may or may not find useless facts, shocking photos, dystopian nightmares, conspiracy theories, links, news, Q&As, quotes by other people that make me sound smart, secrets, dire warnings, maniacal ravings, well wishes, and/or grocery lists.
Remember in 2013 when Congress shut down the federal government for two weeks? Many of us were furloughed and frustrated. In protest, I decided to hold a parenting shutdown and posted these updates on Facebook.
Have you heard about Joel Sartore’s Photo Ark project? With backing from National Geographic, he’s documenting the world’s biodiversity one species at a time to raise awareness about the threat of extinction. I love these photos so much I want to fill my entire home with them, if only to support his efforts.
Back in 2007, Creative Nonfiction magazine asked me to imagine what the future of literature would look like in 25 years. This is what I wrote.
Here’s a piece I wrote for the NEA blog on The Healing Power of Libraries.
“What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness.” — George Saunders (one of my favorite writers) in an awesome 2013 commencement speech to Syracuse University graduates that everyone should read, which is available in a book called Congratulations, By the Way; Some Thoughts on Kindness, which is highlighted in video form on Brainpickings (one of my favorite blogs).
I often get asked the question: “Are you writing?” I find it hard to answer sometimes, and had been thinking about what the question really means when American University asked me to give the McCabe Lecture in February, 2015. I titled my talk On Being a Writer in Remission.
I wasn’t exactly in the mood to send out a cute card or email when my first son was born. Here, instead, was my two-part no-baby/baby announcement.
Looking for a good book? There are lots of journals and magazines with great recommendations, but one of my favorite sites to browse ones published in the last year, mostly because you can search for suggestions based on your individual taste, is NPR’s Book Concierge. Warning: it’s addictive. Or … don’t have a lot of time to read? Sign up to receive a free poem-a-day from the folks at the Academy of American Poets. I find it a soulful, almost meditative (read: stress-reducing) way to start my morning.
Speaking of books, I’m rather proud of a compact anthology the NEA released in 2015 called The Art of Empathy: Celebrating Literature in Translation. Imagine if no one ever thought to translate Dostoevsky or Garcia Marquez, Anne Frank or Dante? “Translation is an art,” I write in the introduction (if I may quote myself). “It takes a great deal of creativity and patience to do it well, not to mention a deep knowledge of a writer’s language, place, and oeuvre. But it also takes fortitude, for translators are notoriously underpaid and underappreciated, their names often left off the covers of the books they create.” The short, smart essays in this (free) collection are illuminating.