Archive for the 'Activism' Category

Vermont writer, artist and anthropologist, Dana Walrath, who has contributed to the graphic medicine book, Menopause: A Comic Treatment (PSU Press). You can check out the book trailer here. 

Dana Walrath generously offered us a Write the Book Prompt for today’s show, which is related to the advice she offered for writers. Precede your writing session by spending some time drawing, even simply drawing the evocative and inspiring spiral, which is a great way to tap into your subconscious but also establishes a ritual that announces to your creative self that it is time to write. 

I have to say, I got all excited as I wrote this prompt out and put down the word inspiring right before the word spiral. But then I looked them up and there is no etymological link; the association must be coincidental. However!!! …  that doesn’t mean we can’t link the words for ourselves as we work. 

Good luck with your work in the coming week and please tune in next week for another prompt or suggestion.

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

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Wildlife Journalist and Vermont Author Laurel Neme, whose new children's book is The Elephant's New Shoe: A True Rescue Story (Orchard Books). 

Laurel was kind enough to suggest a Write the Book Prompt for us, based on an exercise that she learned by taking an intensive picture book workshop by Anastasia Suen. Keep a daily journal and creative record--writing for a set amount of time each day that you assign for yourself--but keep it on your computer and in a single file. This way, if months from now you remember writing about something you can’t quite recall, you can search that file for a theme or keyword in order to find it. 

Good luck with your work in the coming week, and please tune in next week for another prompt or suggestion.

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

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Episode from the archives with author and librarian Josh Hanagarne [The World's Strongest Librarian, Avery], as well as a short book chat with Bear Pond Books co-owner Claire Benedict. 

This week's Write the Book Prompt is to write about a tool or machine that is being used in a way other than was originally intended. 

Good luck with your work in the coming week, and tune in next week for another prompt or suggestion.

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

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American Novelist Bobbie Ann Mason, whose new novel is Dear Ann (Harper). 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt was generously suggested by my guest, Bobbie Ann Mason, who exchanges prompts with her “flash-fiction co-writer buddy Meg Pokrass.” They send each other lists of interesting words with a challenge to use at least some of them in a story. 

One of their lists was: leaky, clawfoot, waddle, bonk, ribs, peace, rapier, feather pillow, steam, sherry, geraniums, skimp, booth, rabbit’s foot, diner, vitality, jet-lag, quivery, Lady Astor, punchline, kettle, bitter coffee, flub.

Bobbie wrote a flash fiction called Corn-Dog based on one of Meg’s lists, using most of these words: corn-dog, frozen, carnival, necks, Animal Planet, parcel, shorts, crisp, weed, note, thrill, stucco, cravings, wispy, unmarried, fat, laryngitis.

This week, Bobbie Ann Mason suggests that you open up a few novels from your shelf. Flip through the books and find interesting words. List a dozen or two. Then pick a word and start a story. Where does it lead you? To another word on the list? Then what? She admits that this exercise can lead into the absurd, but it’s great fun, and you might discover where you are going.

Good luck with your work in the coming week, and tune in next week for another prompt or suggestion.

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

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"Choreopoet" Monica Prince, as interviewed by guest host, Kim MacQueen. Among other works, they discuss Monica's choreopoem How to Exterminate the Black Woman. (PANK Books)

This week’s Write the Book Prompts were suggested by Kim’s guest, Monica Prince. She says the first was inspired by Fear No Lit in Lancaster, Pennsylvania:

  • Set a timer for 2 minutes. Write the word “WATER” at the top of your page. For the next two minutes, write down everything you can think of related to this word. (Don’t stop writing! If you get stuck, doodle or write the alphabet until you think of more to write.)
  • Once the timer goes off, reread your list. Circle the idea that most surprised you.
  • Set another timer for 10 minutes. Write a poem in response to/related to/about the idea you circled. Keep writing until the timer goes off.

Monica's second prompt is a poetry writing exercise, inspired by emojis:

Write a poem translating the emojis below. Feel free to go from left to right, right to left, up to down, down to up, diagonal, or at random. Make sure you include all the emojis. (I suggest crossing them off as you use them.) You must use every emoji at least once.

Tips: Instead of using traditional definitions of these emojis, think about what else they could represent. Don’t be afraid to only tangentially use some of them, while with others you might use for deeper meanings.

Description of emojis from left to right, top to bottom:

Row 1: Smiley face with sunglasses; sheep’s face; box of popcorn; swimmer

Row 2: World map; Chinese lantern; paint brush; fleur-de-lis (stylized lily)

Row 3: Green chick; baby bottle; golden key; silver crow

Row 4: Mind blown smiley face; dove; chocolate glazed donut with sprinkles; fireworks

Row 5: Theatre masks; hourglass; pills; rainbow flag

Row 6: Speaking bubble; flower bouquet; swiss cheese; racquet and ball

Row 7: Mosque; smiley face with mouth zipped shut; waxing/waning moon; crystal ball

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For an example of what this might look like, see this link to Carina Finn and Stephanie Berger's emoji poem published on Poetry Foundation. 

Good luck with your work in the coming week, and tune in next week for another prompt or suggestion.

 

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

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American Poet, Essayist and Translator J. Chester Johnson, whose new memoir is Damaged Heritage: The Elaine Race Massacre and A Story of Reconciliation (Pegasus).

This week’s Write the Book Prompt is to consider your own family’s leanings when it comes to filiopietism, that veneration, often excessive, of ancestors or tradition. Does this exist in your own circle of relatives? Do people excuse behaviors because it’s just how the family has always been? Do you have beliefs based largely on what you were raised to think but have never questioned? Are there, even,  certain artifacts hidden away in your home that you keep simply because they belonged to a great grandfather or grandmother? If so, think about why you keep them, why you believe what you believe, why you cling to what you cling to, what you might shed of your family’s past if you could (or what you would not), and then write about it.

Good luck with your work in the coming week, and tune in next week for another prompt or suggestion.

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

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Vermont Author Julia Alvarez on her new novel, Afterlife (Algonquin). 

This week I have two Write the Book Prompts to offer, both generously suggested by my guest, Julia Alvarez. First, a prompt she learned about when she was researching titles for her book. In considering the title Afterlife, she researched, as authors do, to be sure her book’s title was original and unique. As she did this work, she found out about another book titled Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives, by the neuroscientist David Eagleman. The book offers forty short, imaginative narratives on the theme of God and the afterlife. Julia says the pieces are sometimes funny, sometimes not, but they are all clever and inspiring. She suggests a writing prompt in which we write such a piece: a 2-3 page vignette that imagines what happens when we leave this life.

The second prompt Julia suggests is to write a six-word story or bio. Hemingway famously penned this one: For sale: baby shoes, never worn. Julia was once asked to contribute to a book titled NOT QUITE WHAT I WAS PLANNING: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous & Obscure, edited by Smith Magazine. As Julia points out, it can be hard to do! If you like, you can narrow it down to what your life is like in this particular year. Either way, here is a six-word prompt for you, from Julia Alvarez:  Write your story in six words. 

Good luck with your work in the coming week, and tune in next week for another prompt or suggestion.

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

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A conversation with Vermont author Ginny Sassaman, whose new book is Preaching Happiness: Creating a Just and Joyful World (Rootstock).

For a Write the Book Prompt, write about what has made you happy in the past week.

Good luck with your work in the coming week, and please tune in next week for another prompt or suggestion.

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

This is one of several shorter interviews Shelagh is conducting with Vermont authors whose new books have had their tours upended by Corona.  

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Local entrepreneur Janice Shade's new book is Moving Mountains: The Power of Main Street Americans to Change Our Economy (Onion River Press). 

Write the Book Prompt: Can you imagine "economic justice for all?" What would that look like? How would it different from our present system? Can you think of a few small, symbolic images that might represent achieving that vision? Does it bring to mind a person or group from your past? If so, maybe write about them today. Let the expression, taken from Janice Shade's book description, inspire you. Think hard about economic justice for all, and write. 

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

 

This is one of several shorter interviews Shelagh is conducting with Vermont authors whose new books have had their tours upended by Corona. Stay tuned: there will be more! And if you'd like to order Janice's book through her local bookstore, that would be Phoenix Books.  

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An interview with Sharon Cameron, author most recently of The Light in Hidden Places (Scholastic Books).

This week’s Write the Book Prompt was generously suggested by my guest, Sharon Cameron, who finds the availability of online oral histories fascinating and invaluable as she works. She suggested, as an exercise, finding oral histories--immigrant stories, personal experiences from wars, and interviews--on youtube or in university collections, among other places. Listen and, if you’re lucky, watch these oral histories and create a story out of what you learn. Overlay your own creativity atop these stories. She warns that this is simply a good exercise, and it’s important to choose the right stories to tell, if you plan to take them public. Use this exercise to stretch your writing muscle. Good luck with your work in the coming week, and tune in next week for another prompt or suggestion.

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

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Canadian Journalist Jessica McDiarmid, author of Highway of Tears: A True Story of Racism, Indifference, and the Pursuit of Justice for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (Atria).

This week's Write the Book Prompt is to write a poem, a story, an essay, or a reflection about a person who has disappeared. 

Good luck with your work in the coming week, and tune in next week for another prompt or suggestion.

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

 

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Lisa Moore Ramée, whose debut middle grade novel is A Good Kind of Trouble (Balzer + Bray).

This week’s Write the Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Lisa Moore Ramée, and was inspired by an exercise that was assigned in the workshop she attended led by Renée Watson. Take your two main characters and put them in direct opposition. Have them fight or argue about something that they really care about. You may or may not end up using the scene, but it will probably help clarify who your characters are and what they want.

Good luck with your work in the coming week, and tune in next week for another prompt or suggestion.

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

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Writer, editor, and publisher Dave Eggers, whose new book is The Captain and the Glory: An Entertainment (Knopf).

Here's a prompt to go along with my interview with Dave Eggers: write a satirical paragraph about a story in the news. This will require doing deep research to find something in our current events that you find outrageous, disgusting, or bizarre. I have faith that you can.  Good luck with it. 

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

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An interview from the archives with Vermont Author Eric Zencey, who passed away on July 1st after a battle with cancer. Eric's books included Virgin Forest: Meditations on History, Ecology, and Culture (University of Georgia Press); Greening Vermont: The Search for a Sustainable State, coauthored with Elizabeth Courtney (Vermont Natural Resources Council/Thistle Hill); and The Other Road to Serfdom and the Path to Sustainable Democracy (University Press of New England). 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt is to consider the following quote from Eric Zencey’s book, The Other Road to Serfdom and the Path to Sustainable Democracy, and then write about whatever might occur to you, having read it:

 

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Good luck with your work in the coming week, and tune in next week for another prompt or suggestion.

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

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New York Times–bestselling author Meg Wolitzer, whose novel The Female Persuasion (Riverhead Books) is now in paperback. 

For a new Write the Book Prompt, write a scene in which two characters meet for the first time. The main character has long idolized the other from a distance. In the scene, have that other person let down your main character in some way. 

Good luck with your work in the coming week, and tune in next week for another prompt or suggestion.

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

 

* Audio excerpted courtesy Penguin Random House Audio from THE FEMALE PERSUASION by Meg Wolitzer, narrated by Rebecca Lowman.

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Award-winning author of books for young readers, Laurie Halse Anderson. Her latest is a memoir in verse, Shout (Viking). 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt was generously suggested by my guest, Laurie Halse Anderson. If you were to write about a secret you’d never shared, what would you write?

Good luck with your work in the coming week, and tune in next week for another prompt or suggestion.

Music: Aaron Shapiro

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Mitchell S. Jackson, Award-Winning Author of Survival Math: Notes on an All-American Family (Scribner). 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt was generously suggested by my guest, Mitchell S. Jackson. Write your own answer to the question, what is the toughest thing you have survived? Write it in the second person; Mitchell says this might make you think about the experience in a different way.

Good luck with your work in the coming week, and tune in next week for another prompt or suggestion.

 

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American Novelist and Poet Rosellen Brown, whose latest is The Lake on Fire (Sarabande). 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Rosellen Brown: "Use questions and answers." She has found this an intriguing way to write. She offers the Mark Strand poem “Elegy For My Father” as an example. In the poem, Strand poses a question to his father, is given an inadequate or dishonest answer, and so asks the question again, to receive a more honest answer. He does this several times with many different questions. Rosellen herself used a questionnaire to format a story in her collection Street Games, offering both standard questions like name, address, but also crazy questions, like “Have you ever wished to die at the height of the sex act?” She has found it very fruitful with students.

[Also, during our conversation, Rosellen mentioned the site S for Sentence. Seems like another great resource to check out!]

Good luck with your work in the coming week, and please listen next week for another prompt or suggestion.

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

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Vermont author Jill M. Allen, who will be reissuing her self-published story and ballad collection: The Green Mountains Deep: Fiction About Disabled Vermonters by a Disabled Vermonter, with Onion River Press (from Phoenix Books)  in the near future. 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt is to think about your own abilities and obstacles, and write about how they affect you as you make your way in the world. 

Good luck with your work in the coming week, and please listen next week for another prompt or suggestion.

Music by Aaron Shapiro

 

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Author Rick Smolan, whose new book is The Good Fight: America's Ongoing Struggle for Justice (Against All Odds), co-authored by Jennifer Erwitt.

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This week’s Write the Book Prompt is inspired by the interview you heard today. Many thanks to Rick Smolan for providing some photographs from The Good Fight for me to post on the podcast site. (See below.) Have a look at these pictures, and then write whatever you might be moved to express. You can have a closer look by right-clicking (or control-clicking) on each image to open it in a new tab. 

Good luck with your work in the coming week, and please listen next week for another prompt or suggestion.

 

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

 

Photo Credit: Steve Schapiro  Signing of 19th Amendment to the US Constitution

Photo Credit: Steve Schapiro                                           1920: KY Governor Morrow signs 19th Amendment

Photo Credit: Jessica Rinaldi  Photo Credit: Nuccio Dinuzzo

Photo Credit: Jessica Rinaldi                                        Photo Credit: Nuccio Dinuzzo

Photo Credit: Doug Mills  Photo Credit: Johnathan Bachman

Photo Credit: Doug Mills                                               Photo Credit: Johnathan Bachman

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Vermont author and environmentalist Bill McKibben, whose new (and debut, after some twelve nonfiction books!) novel is Radio Free Vermont (Blue Rider Press). 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt is to find an article in a newspaper or other news source and turn it to fiction, while retaining the underlying thematic point of the original journalistic piece.  

Good luck with your work in the coming week, and please listen next week for another prompt or suggestion.

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

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Newbury- and National Book Award-Winning Vermont author of Bridge to Terabithia, Katherine Paterson, whose new novel is My Brigadista Year (Candlewick). 

This week's Write the Book Prompt is to consider an historical event that might have reverberations in our own time, and write about it. 

Good luck with your work in the coming week, and please listen next week for another prompt or suggestion.

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

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Vermont Author Leda Schubert, whose new children's book is Listen: How Pete Seeger Got America Singing (Roaring Brook Press).

This week’s Write the Book Prompt is to read with a child, as Leda Schubert suggests at the end of our interview. Do you have young children? A niece, a nephew? Grandchildren? Maybe you can volunteer to read at your local public library. Watch how the children react to what you read. If you write children’s books, this will help you understand what appeals to young readers. If you don’t, then use the opportunity as inspiration for a poem, a story, an essay inspired by the experience.

Good luck with your work in the coming week, and please listen next week for another prompt or suggestion.

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

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Nadine Budbill, daughter and literary executor of the late David BudbillVermont poet, playwright and author. We discuss David's life and work, in particular one of his last publications, Broken Wing, a beautiful Vermont allegorical tale about a rusty blackbird with a broken wing. A story of loneliness, survival, tenacity and will, Broken Wing is also about music and race and what it is like to be a minority in a strange place. With a brief conversation as well from Dede Cummings, whose press published the novel. (GWP

This week's Write the Book Prompt is to read some of David Budbill's work and let it inspire you in your own writing. His work was frequently included on the Minnesota Public Radio show The Writers' Almanac. Those poems can be accessed here.

Good luck with your work in the coming week, and please listen next week for another prompt or suggestion. 

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

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Interview from the archives with Madeleine M. Kunin, Vermont's first woman governor, about her book The New Feminist Agenda: Defining the Next Revolution for Women, Work, and Family (Chelsea Green).

This week’s Write the Book Prompt is to write about a prejudice you know yourself to have. Because, if we're honest, we probably all have them. I'll start. I avoid cars with a certain regional license plate, because I'm of the opinion that those drivers can not be trusted on the road. (No, I won't name the region.) Do you have a prejudice? How do you feel about it? Are you ashamed of it, proud of it? Do you work to get past it? 

Good luck with your work in the coming week, and please listen next week for another prompt or suggestion.

Music Credit: Aaron Shapiro

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Author Maggie Kast, whose 2015 novel, A Free Unsullied Land (Fomite Press), recently won a Wordwrite Book Award. 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt is generously suggested by Maggie Kast, who uses it when she teaches workshops on "Writing Your Family Story." Identify an object that was important in your family (either your family of origin, or the family you’ve since come to be a part of), and then contemplate that object, draw it if you want to, identify sensory details connected with it (looks, smells, feels, tastes, makes sounds?) and then put that object into a scene--into a place--if you want, draw that place. And then ask yourself what happened in that place that made the object so important. Did it involve something contentious, nostalgic. Was there a fearful memory, or did the object get broken, perhaps? Write as you remember.

Good luck with your work in the coming week, and please listen next week for another prompt or suggestion.

Music credits: 1) "Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) "Filter" - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several former South Burlington High School students).

N.B. Maggie wrote to offer the precise William Gass quote she tried to recall when we spoke. Here's her follow-up: ... a quote from William Gass' wonderful book, On Being Blue. Subtitled "a philosophical inquiry," it deals mostly with writing about sex. The passage I was attempting to quote is: "I should like to suggest that at least on the face of it a stroke by stroke story of a copulation is exactly as absurd as a chew by chew account of the consumption of a chicken's wing." It's on page 20 of the edition brought out by New York Review of Books in 2014, with introduction by Michael Gorra. Original publication was 1976, and that's when I first encountered it. - MK

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Former Deputy Associate Director at the White House Office of Management and Budget Meg Little Reilly, author of We Are Unprepared (MIRA Books). 

This week’s Write the Book Prompt concerns the word storm, which has many uses, perhaps because of the impact that storms have always had on the populations that experience them. Here are a few brief definitions and synonyms: a violent disturbance of the atmosphere with strong winds and usually rain, thunder, lightning, or snow. Windstorm, tempest, whirlwind, gale, squall. A tumultuous reaction; an uproar or controversy. As a verb, it can mean to move angrily or forcefully in a specified direction. To storm off, stomp, march, stalk, flounce, stamp. It can be a sudden attack and capture by means of force. “Someone stormed the capital yesterday.”

Write a story, poem, essay or scene in which any form of the word “storm” or one of its synonyms has significance. If you have a friend who spells her name G-A-L-E, then you can go ahead and write about her.

Good luck with this prompt, and please listen next week for another!

Music credits: 1) "Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) "Filter" - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several former South Burlington High School students).

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Marc Estrin and Donna Bister, founders of Vermont's Fomite Press, "a literary press whose authors and artists explore the human condition -- political, cultural, personal and historical -- in poetry and prose."

This week's Write the Book Prompt was generously suggested by my guest, Donna Bister. Write about your first pair of shoes. Or, if you can't remember them, write about your favorite shoes. 

Good luck with this prompt, and please listen next week for another!

Music credits: 1) "Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) "Filter" - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several former South Burlington High School students).


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Posted in WritingPoliticsActivismCreative NonfictionMeditationNonfictionEnvironment,FoodNatureHistoryMemoirFarmingEssaysHealthgardening on Mar 15th, 2012

Vermont writer Tovar Cerulli, author of The Mindful Carnivore: A Vegetarian's Hunt for Sustenance, published by Pegasus Books.

Tovar Cerulli's website bio describes him as having had an "outdoorsy" boyhood. This week's Write The Book Prompt is to write about an outdoorsy experience. 

Good luck with this prompt, and please listen next week for another!

Music credits: 1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Filter” - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several former South Burlington High School students).

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UCLA Professor Emeritus Ralph Frerichs, author of Deadly River: Cholera and Cover-Up in Post-Earthquake Haiti (Cornell University Press). This nonfiction medical mystery explores how the greatest cholera epidemic in recent times arose in Haiti. The book follows French epidemiologist Renaud Piarroux, who conducted the investigation, and presents a case-study of how humanitarian organizations and their followers react when difficult truths become uncomfortable. 


This week’s Write the Book Prompt is to study a map, and write about what you see there, what you learn, what places you suddenly want to travel to.


Good luck with your work in the coming week, and please listen next week for another prompt or suggestion.


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Vermont author Mark Pendergrast, with whom I spoke in March 2012 about his book Japan's Tipping Point: Crucial Choices in the Post-Fukushima World.


This week's Write the Book Prompt is to write for half an hour, allowing your starting point to be, "Despite all that training, when we first heard the alarm, none of us knew what it was."

Good luck with this prompt, and please listen next week for another.  

Music credits: 1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Filter” - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several former South Burlington High School students).

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2011 interview with Joan Leegant, author of the story collection, An Hour in Paradise and the novel that we discuss in the interview, Wherever You Go, both published by W.W. Norton & Co.


This week's Write the Book Prompt is to write a scene or poem or paragraph backwards. It can be a piece that you're stuck on, something you're trying to revise, something you've yet to attempt. Consider how you would normally go about writing it and write it "backwards." Let this mean whatever makes the most sense for you. Is your structure chronological? Change the flow of time. Would you normally introduce your characters in a certain order? Change that order. Would you setting begin indoors and move outdoors? Swap that. Write it backwards, and see if this opens up anything interesting for you. 

Good luck with this exercise and please listen next week for another.

Music credits: 1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Filter” - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several former South Burlington High School students).

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Vermont author Coleen Kearon, whose debut novel is Feminist on Fire (Fomite Press).


This week's Write the Book Prompt was generously offered by my guest, Coleen Kearon. Open a favorite book to a random page. Write down the opening three words of any sentence. Close the book, and use those three words as a starting point for your own work. 

Good luck with this exercise and please listen next week for another.

Music credits: 1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Filter” - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several former South Burlington High School students).



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Gary Lee Miller interviews author Cecelia Tichi about her new book, Jack London: A Writer's Fight for a Better America (UNC Press, Sept. 2015).


Jack London was a prolific writer, as you'll learn in this interview. Below are a few of his famous aphorisms. This week's Write the Book Prompt is to choose one that inspires you, and write for twenty minutes.
  • I would rather be ashes than dust! I would rather be a superb meteor, every atom of me in magnificent glow, than a sleepy and permanent planet.
  • A bone to the dog is not charity. Charity is the bone shared with the dog, when you are just as hungry as the dog.
  • Darn the wheel of the world! Why must it continually turn over? Where is the reverse gear?

Good luck with this exercise and please listen next week for another.

Music credits: "I Could Write a Book," by the Boston-based band, Possum.


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Interview from the archives with Ecologist and educator Amy Seidl, author of Early Spring: An Ecologist and Her Children Wake to a Warming World and Finding Higher Ground: Adaptation in the Age of Warming.


This week's Write the Book Prompt concerns caring for the earth. Write about one step you have taken toward this guardianship. Then write about a next step you hope to take.

Good luck with this exercise and please listen next week for another.

Music credits: 1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Filter” - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several former South Burlington High School students).

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Author, playwright and activist Diane Lefer, whose new book is Confessions of a Carnivore, published by Burlington, VT publisher, Fomite Press. Visit Second Chances LA to read Diane's interviews with torture victims in her local (Los Angeles) community. 


This week’s Write The Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Diane Lefer, who says that writers sometimes forget to consider what their characters want at different points in their fictional lives. She likes to present a character’s emotional life, and not just the facts. The prompt, then, is to write, “When I was five years old, what I wanted more than anything else in the world was…” and finish that statement. Write it again, beginning, “When I was ten years old,” and “When I was fifteen years old.” Keep going with this. Choose the intervals of time that make the most sense for your age or for that of your character. See how the desire changes, and keep that in mind as you write.

Good luck with this exercise and please listen next week for another.

Music credits: 1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Filter” - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several former South Burlington High School students).


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Interview from the archives with Wendy Call, writer, editor, translator and teacher. Author of No Word for Welcome: The Mexican Village Faces the Global Economy.

In fact, this week's live broadcast was with Vermont author Tammy Flanders Hetrick. But due to a strange set of circumstances, her podcast has been up for a couple weeks already. You can find it here

Public shaming has been in the news a lot lately. Even before the internet, shame and disgrace could be widespread and malignant. Just read The Scarlet Letter. This week's Write the Book Prompt is to write about a person who has been disgraced. Consider the reason for the disgrace. Has this person done something truly despicable? Or did he or she simply get caught looking foolish? Is the shaming mean-spirited, or does it come from a supposedly kind place. That "tough love" philosophy, for example. Does it get out of hand? How? Why? Why do crowds like a good public shaming? Are there larger lessons that can be conveyed subtly by writing about a person in this situation? 

Good luck with this exercise and please listen next week for another.

Music credits: 1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Filter” - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several former South Burlington High School students).


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2011 interview with Award-Winning Author and Journalist Christian Parenti, regarding his book, Tropic of Chaos: Climate Change and the New Geography of Violence.

This week's Write the Book Prompt is to write about the eventual occasion of a long-avoided conflict.

Good luck with this exercise, and listen next week for another.

Music credits: 1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Filter” - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several former South Burlington High School students. 


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Archive interview with Vermont writer Laban Carrick Hill, author of over thirty books, including the historical picture book, Dave the Potter, and co-director of the Writers Project of Ghana, a nonprofit based in the Ghana and the US. In 2014, Laban Carrick Hill published the award winning When the Beat Was Born: DJ Kool Herc and the Creation of Hip Hop.

Today's Write the Book Prompt is to write about a person with some regimen that is challenged: a vegetarian who can only find a hamburger in the small town he is visiting; a Jewish mourner who is unable to find a synagogue in which to pray (or a minyan for a prayer service); a reserved mother who can't find a private place to nurse her hungry baby. 
Good luck with this exercise, and listen next week for another.
Music credits: 1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Filter” - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several former South Burlington High School students. 

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Award winning author and educator, Sharon M. Draper, whose latest YA novel is Stella by Starlight, published by Simon and Schuster. On the day of the interview, Sharon learned that Time Magazine had chosen her last book, out of my mind, as one of the 100 best children's books of all time. (She was in a pretty great mood, and we had a fun conversation.)

This week’s  Write The Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Sharon M. Draper. You actually already heard her offer it; write every day, and write descriptions and scenes with specific detail. Look out the window. What does the sky look like, what do the trees look like? Not near a window? Write about something else near where you are: a person, a room, anything. Focus on descriptions and being specific in your descriptions. 

Good luck with this exercise and please listen next week for another.  

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Vermont author Eric Zencey, in a conversation about his novel, Panama (Farrar Straus Giroux), and his nonfiction books, The Other Road to Serfdom and the Path to Sustainable Democracy (UPNE), and Greening Vermont - The Search for a Sustainable State (Vermont Natural Resources Council/Thistle Hill Publications), co-authored by Elizabeth Courtney.


This week’s  Write The Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Eric Zencey. It concerns noise and noise pollution. Based on a theater exercise that he’s been interested in turning into a writing prompt, this week’s exercise is to lie down, shut your eyes, maybe dim the lights, and then listen to and remember every sound you hear for a set amount of time. Maybe five minutes. Maybe ten. You decide. After that time is up, take notes about what you recall, and use the noises you were able to identify in your work.

Good luck with this prompt and please listen next week for another.

Music credits: 1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Filter” - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several former South Burlington High School students, now alums).

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Poet and prose writer Barbara Henning, whose latest book is A Swift Passage, published by Quale Press.

This week’s Write The Book Prompt was generously offered by my guest, Barbara Henning. She told me that she has used this at the start of a new class, to help her students ground themselves. The prompt is called “FROM HAIKU TO PROSE” - Go for a walk (or remember a walk) and write down everything you see. Then write three haiku using words from your notes. Try to make each haiku a sentence. Haiku celebrate the ever-transforming universe by describing two actions in a single moment in time, an epiphany as the writer becomes aware of reality by observing something simple, striking and absolutely ordinary. Don't worry about syllable count; instead for each haiku, write one short line, one longer line and another short line. The world turns, the seasons change, everything is moving. See if you can get a sense of the season into your haiku and shy away from metaphors, abstract ideas, generalizations and statements about the writer's feelings; stick with things in movement. Haiku do not lecture on ideas about truth, goodness and beauty. They ARE truth and beauty. Here are two haiku, the first by Basho and the second by Richard Wright.

The peasant’s child,
husking rice, stops
and gazes at the moon.

A thin mangy dog
Curls up to sleep in the dust
Of a moonlit road.

Now tell the story of your walk and embed these haiku as sentences into your prose. If you consider your life a journey, every event that takes place is part of that journey, every action a part of another action. Even these momentary observations are small actions. Instead of breaking for the lined poem, let them flow right into the prose as sentences. In this way, you will have a poetic rhythm in your flash fiction or prose poem. You can use this same technique as a regular journal exercise or as a way to begin a story or a poem.

Good luck with this exercise and please listen next week for another.

Music credits:  1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Filter” - Dorset Greens (which was a Vermont band in 2008, featuring several South Burlington High School students, now grads.)

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An interview from the archives with  Scott Russell Sanders, author of twenty books of fiction and nonfiction, including A Conservationist Manifesto and Earth Works, his latest, published in 2012 by Indiana University Press. This show originally ran in two parts, but here is available as a single podcast lasting almost an hour and a half.

Today's Write The Book Prompt is inspired by a writing conference I went to at the end of last week and over the weekend: AWP 2013, which took place in Boston. AWP stands for Associated Writing Programs. In the time I've been going to the meeting, every couple years for the past ten years or so, attendance has exploded. This year they had some 11,000 writers show up. That's a lot of writers, and they need a LOT of space. So there's crowd control to think about, and which panels and workshops and readings are of most interest to you, social concerns, like What-again-is-the-name-of-that-guy-who's-walking-over-here-and-where-do-I-know-him-from? There will be dietary concerns, like do you have time to stand in that long line for a cup of coffee and a cookie, and if you do, will you not be able to get a seat in the How-I-got-my-book- reviewed-by-Oprah panel? There's the issue of having to sit for long periods of time on maybe not the most comfortable seats. But then there are the great things: seeing old friends, learning new things, returning home energized to write! So this week's prompt is to write a poem, a story, an essay or a personal narrative about some experience you've either had or can imagine having at a conference. It can be any kind of conference or meeting or reunion - whatever inspires you to write.

Good luck with this exercise and please listen next week for another.

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Singer, songwriter and poet/slam poet Mary Lambert and filmmaker and slam poet Rose McAleese, who’ll be performing at Radio Bean in Burlington on Saturday night. Here are links to their Bobby Sands performance (which I played at the start of the show) and the Macklemore and Ryan Lewis YouTube video of Same Love.

This week's Write The Book Prompt is to perform your work in some way. If you feel confident to compete in a local slam, do that. Or read a poem or story at an open mic in your area. Or read one to a friend or group of friends. Maybe you'll find that your work, spoken aloud, affects you in a different way than it does on the page. You might hear things as you practice that inspire you to make changes. In any case, sharing your work with an audience gets it out into the world in a new way.

Good luck with this exercise and please listen next week for another.

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New York Times bestselling author of Girl With a Pearl Earring Tracy Chevalier, whose new book, The Last Runaway, was released on January 8th from Dutton. This week's Write The Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Tracy Chevalier. She said that it's incredibly helpful to look closely at things and write about what you see. For example, consider quilts. Tracy explains that one thing people don't realize about quilting; it's not just the pattern of the cloth. Actual quilting is the stitching of the layers together. Those are in patterns that sometimes people don't even see. Feathers, hearts, flowers, diamonds, all sorts of things. You have to look carefully to see them. There are a lot of quilt sites out there. (Such as Keepsake Quilting, Quilting Board and Quilting 101). And there's Pinterest! Go and choose a quilt, try to see some hidden meaning in the actual quilting, and write about that. Good luck with this exercise and please listen next week for another.

During our interview, Tracy talked about the Bench By The Road Project, started by Toni Morrison. You can read more about that here.

Music credits: 1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Filter” - Dorset Greens (a former Vermont band featuring several South Burlington High School graduates)

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Award-winning Irish poet Greg Delanty, whose book, The Greek Anthology, Book XVII, comes out in December 2012 (Carcanet Press).

Today's Write The Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Greg Delanty. When his students come in on the first day of a term, he'll ask, "How are your spirits?" They'll answer great or fine or good or bad... whatever. Then he'll ask them if they've seen their spirit.

"Where is it?" He'll ask. "Is it in your toe, or is it in your ear, or where? In your chest?" Generally, nobody has an answer. He then discusses "spirit" as an abstract word. Love and death and happiness and sadness are all abstract words for things that are, of course, much harder to pin down. In order to renew such a word or concept, an artist can physicalize it. As an example, he suggests students read "The Vacuum," by Howard Nemerov, in which a woman's soul is sucked up by the vacuum cleaner.

This week's prompt is to think in these terms about spirit, or love, or another hard-to-pin-down word or concept. Write about it in a poem and renew it by somehow physicalizing it.

Good luck with this prompt and tune in next week for another. Music credits: 1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Filter” - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band that existed briefly in 2008 and 2009, featuring several South Burlington High School students - now grads)

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Former Vermont Governor Madeleine M. Kunin, author of The New Feminist Agenda: Defining the Next Revolution for Women, Work, and Family, published by Chelsea Green.

Governor Kunin's book opens with a recollected moment of anger about the status of women's and families' rights. Today's Write The Book Prompt is to write about something that makes you angry. It can be political or personal, about your spouse or your sibling or the price of organic almonds. Be sure to state your reasons clearly, and not allow the emotion you feel to cloud the message you might be trying to convey.

Good luck with this prompt and tune in next week for another.

Music credits: 1) "Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) "Filter" - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several former South Burlington High School students).

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Vermont writer Tovar Cerulli, author of The Mindful Carnivore: A Vegetarian's Hunt for Sustenance, published by Pegasus Books.

This week's Write The Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Tovar Cerulli. Recall an experience with an animal, wild or domestic, from your childhood or teen years. Write the scene as you recall it, describing what occurred. Read your own description and consider: Are there additional layers of thought or feeling that are relevant? Do you want to work any of these into the scene? (Optional second round: Recall a more recent experience with an animal and write and consider that scene. What similarities or differences between the two scenes do you notice?)

Good luck with this prompt, and please listen next week for another!

Music credits: 1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Filter” - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several former South Burlington High School students).

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Vermont author Mark Pendergrast, whose latest book is Japan's Tipping Point: Crucial Choices in the Post-Fukushima World.

Inspired by our guest Mark Pendergrast's interest in Japan, this week's Write The Book Prompt is to fold an origami crane. If you get stuck in your writing, or are simply wanting an activity that keeps you thinking, but not struggling, folding an origami animal might help. You'll still be engaged in a creative act, but you'll be following a set list of instructions, which might free the author in you to continue working away from the computer keyboard. Below are a few links to origami paper folding (all from the same site, which seemed easy to follow and not full of annoying ads). You can also print the Write The Book logo I've included below that for colorful folding paper. Or use a sheet from your recycle bin: maybe a rejected poem or scene can have a second life as a crane, a frog, or a flower.

Good luck with this prompt, and please listen next week for another!

Crane

Flower

Frog

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Interview from the archives with award-winning fiction writer, Diane Lefer.
No prompt this week. Take it easy! And then please listen next week for a new prompt...

Music credits: 1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Filter” - Dorset Greens (a Vermont band featuring several former South Burlington High School students).

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