Poetry Writing: 10 Tips for Writing Poems

If you are writing a poem because you want to capture a feeling that you experienced, then you don’t need these tips. Just write whatever feels right. Only you experienced the feeling that you want to express, so only you will know whether your poem succeeds. If, however, your goal is to communicate with a reader — drawing on the established conventions of a literary genre (conventions that will be familiar to the…

Beautiful News Writing: “Rampaging rooster attacks girl.”

I don’t want to make light of a little girl’s fear, but she wasn’t seriously hurt, and this is a damn fine lead: When they heard the screams, no one suspected the rooster. (Tampa Bay Times, 2002) And from a little farther into the story: The rooster struck around noon as Dechardonae ventured from her house in the middle of the cluster to visit her Uncle Tony, waiting in the…

Digital literacy is different from print literacy. How do we balance the trade-off?

My job includes teaching students to read long, complex texts (novels, play scripts, and academic texts.) My job also includes asking students to write researched essays that are longer documents than many of them at first seem comfortable reading. Years after they graduate, students often thank me for what I’ve taught them, and say the effort was all worth it. Buoyed by that feedback, it would be an easy thing for…

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C.S. Lewis: “On the Reading of Old Books”

Gearing up for teaching a new “American Lit 1776-Present” course. I’ll be at the office, sitting at my desk all day, wearing long pants instead of shorts. Not a screw gun or a stage platform or a digital camera within reach. This essay offers some well-phrased arguments for reading classic literature. Nothing strikes me more when I read the controversies of past ages than the fact that both sides were…