In the Nature of Prose Poetry , Colorado Poets Center
In Ohio, they never touched ground, hovered just beyond, their hearts thin as dimes, until their slotted wings vibrated into whirr and whistle. We believed this about hummingbirds: that death stalked their stillness, that to sit or sleep was as foreign to them as to the sharks that hulked beneath our primitive dreams of fish and flotsam. But here the mountain hummingbirds, migrated by star or fireweed, hover momentarily, then spin into each other, territorial, sharp-needled, vanquishing each other from the sugar water I boil each time I come here. And then they sit . . . read more
Note to Self: on the Lyric Essay , Colorado Poets Center
I must confess that what I first want to tell you is a lie. That what propelled me to creative nonfiction was the owl my husband and I stalked in a ragged stretch of woods along the South Platte River some long winters ago, that symbolic air, I’ll want to tell you, thick with the crash and grind of a cement factory that halted only on Sundays in deference to a holiness I couldn’t name. What I won’t want to tell you is that it was really the words of a humble Southern essayist— . . . read more
You know how you remember where you were, who you were with, and what you were doing when you listened to such-and-such a song, maybe for the first time? Like Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” when no doubt you should not have been there, and certainly not with that crowd, under those conditions, in a smoky basement apartment with black lights on Oglethorpe Avenue in Savannah? Right. You do.
This is how it is for me with the first essay I ever heard from what has become Phantom Canyon—Bathing . . . read more
“Bathing” as an example for In Conclusion: Tips to Create a Memorable Ending for Your Narrative Essay: Writing Center Underground
As difficult as it is to begin a personal narrative essay, wrapping it up can be even more challenging. Writers often fall into the trap of tying the narrative up too neatly, telling the readers what they are supposed to take away from their story instead of letting the reader come to their own conclusions. Study a few essays from some of the great writers and notice how they conclude their stories. read more
Joan Hanna: We were so excited to have “Afterward: a Draft” in our April issue of r.kv.r.y. This was a personal and intimate piece about a rape that took place in the early 70s. Can you share a little with our readers about how the passage of time factored into your perspective?
What is the best writing advice that you dispense to your students?
My best writing advice to my students is to “honor your work.” That means at every stage, even when you want to tear it to shreds and tell yourself for the umpteenth time that you’re just not a writer, and…well, you know the drill. Write the best that you can at this moment, nurture it, believe in it, and present it to the world with the honor it deserves. I remember one student who sent her first piece, a beautiful lyrical essay to her stillborn infant daughter, to an “unknown writer’s” contest. Not only was it rejected, but one of the judges made an insensitive remark that was more about her lack of knowledge than a problem with the piece. At our creative writing capstone reading, I read the essay out loud for my student to an awestruck audience, so that she could realize its beauty, too, and honor it. Read More.