Archive for the 'Politics' Category

Interview with Scott Russell Sanders, author of twenty books of fiction and nonfiction. His latest is  A Conservationist Manifesto, published by Indiana University Press.

Prompt: Today's Write The Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Scott Russell Sanders, who is a writing teacher as well as a writer. Think about the classic elements as the Greeks imagined them: air, earth, fire and water. Say the words over and over in your mind. Settle on one of them. And then begin to think about what associations you have in your own life with that element. Water can be ice, moving water, a pond, something you drink, snow, mist, clouds. You could think about a place where you encountered water in some foundational way: where you learned to swim or a snowstorm you got caught in in your car once, or sledding down a hill as a child. Write a list - not a narrative - of these associations or memories: sledding, ice fishing, snowball fights. Pick one or two of these items from your list and then begin to write, begin to unpack it, see where it goes.

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 South Burlington High School students)

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Interview with Scott Russell Sanders, author of twenty books of fiction and nonfiction. His latest is  A Conservationist Manifesto, published by Indiana University Press.

Prompt: Today's Write The Book Prompt was inspired by the work of my guest, Scott Russell Sanders. The excerpt he read from his new book, A Conservationist Manifesto, is really intended for two audiences. Here's some of what he said as he introduced the pages he read during our interview:

What I try to do ... is tell [the children of the future] what I have loved, what I have valued about the earth during my time alive ... and also what my hopes for them are... At the same time, ... I'm speaking of course to the contemporary reader ... and inviting the present reader to think about the effects of our lives on the prospects for future children.

As you write in the coming week, consider your audience. Who will read your words and how would you like your work to impact those people? Do you want the reactions of your audience to affect the way you write, or would you rather just put words on paper, tell your story, convey your ideas? If you're writing an essay, as Scott Russell Sanders did in writing "For The Children," you may well want to think about your audience ahead of time. If you're writing a poem, reacting to the world around you in a personal way, you may be less inclined to worry about how your reader will react. In either case, this bears consideration. Who will read your work, how will they react, and is that important to the process of creation itself?

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

Readings by Scott Russell Sanders, from A Conservationist Manifesto (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2009). Copyright © 2009 by Scott Russell Sanders. Recorded with permission.

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

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Interview with Tanya Lee Stone, Vermont author of picture books, novels and nonfiction books for children, young readers and teens. Her latest is Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared To Dream.

Prompt: This week's Write The Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Tanya Lee Stone. Write about an embarrassing moment, without revealing the actual event that caused the embarrassment.

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 South Burlington High School students)

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Interview with Vermont Writer Rowan Jacobsen

Prompt: Today's Write The Book Prompt was inspired by the interview you heard with Rowan Jacobsen. In his book, The Living Shore, Rowan talks about children at play being "powerhouses of creativity." He refers to the science essayist Lewis Thomas, who suggests that earliest language was probably developed by children. In his book, The Fragile Species, Thomas writes, "...it probably began when the earliest settlements, or the earliest nomadic tribes, reached a sufficient density of population so that there were plenty of very young children in close contact with each other, a critical mass of children, playing together all day long."

Today's prompt, then, is two-fold. First, try to let go of your adult sensibilities and get playful as you write. Because it is as children that we best access the possibilities of language. The second part of today's prompt is about oysters. Recall Jonathan Swift's words: "He was a bold man that first eat an oyster." Write about that person. What was his or her situation and state of mind, to be that bold?

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 South Burlington High School students)

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Interview with Xu Xi, writer of short stories, novels, essays, and a new "quirky" memoir. Hosted by Shelagh C. Shapiro, Write The Book airs on WOMM-LP 105.9 FM “The Radiator,” in Burlington, Vermont, every Saturday morning at 9:00 a.m.

Prompt: Today’s Write The Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Xu Xi.  She recommends borrowing an idea from jazz improvisation. Look at what Xu Xi calls, “the facts of the fiction,” and pick something to work with. Improvise on it the way a musician might riff on a theme in music. See if the changes you come up with take the work in another direction. In the case of the novel Xu Xi read from in this interview, what if Gail’s child and his grandmother aren’t killed on page one, but later in the book? What if that phone conversation she remembers having with her son is a scene in the novel rather than a recollection? Or the other way around. What if a scene in your book COULD be a recollection. Might that make more sense? Move things around, riff on the facts in your fiction, and see what changes or comes unstuck. 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 South Burlington High School students)

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Interview with Rosellen Brown, award-winning writer of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, author of such books as Before and After, Half a Heart and Civil Wars. Hosted by Shelagh C. Shapiro, Write The Book airs on WOMM-LP 105.9 FM “The Radiator,” in Burlington, Vermont, every Saturday morning at 9:00 a.m.

Prompt: Today’s Write The Book Prompt was suggested by my guest, Rosellen Brown. This exercise is also taught by Nicholas Del Banco in his courses at the University of Michigan. Take two classic books and have the characters from one show up in the other. Write a scene in which a character from Mrs. Dalloway appears in The Sun Also Rises. What might happen? Would Pip, from Great Expectations, be a good friend for Tom Sawyer? Would Mr. Darcy be attracted to or repulsed by Daisy Buchanan? This may seem a little silly, but writing playfully and having fun is better than staring at the blank page. Like all exercises, this one might help you to open your mind and discover new things about voice.

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

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Interview with Charles Barasch, poet, linguistics instructor, crossword puzzle writer, and author of Dreams of the Presidents. Hosted by Shelagh C. Shapiro, Write The Book airs on WOMM-LP 105.9 FM “The Radiator,” in Burlington, Vermont, every Saturday morning at 9:00 a.m.

Prompt: Today’s Write The Book Prompt is inspired in part by the interview you heard today. Charlie Barasch said that when he has trouble writing, he sometimes sets his poetry aside and turns to music. His own instrument is the guitar, and he’ll spend time singing and playing songs in order to jumpstart his brain and motivate the words to flow once more.

Oliver Sacks, in the book Musicophilia, writes: "Given the obvious similarities between music and language, it is not surprising that there has been a running debate for more than two hundred years as to whether they evolved in tandem or independently—and if the latter, which came first." He also says: "We humans are a musical species no less than a linguistic one. This takes many forms. All of us (with very few exceptions) can perceive music, perceive tones, timbre, pitch, intervals, melodic contours, harmony, and (perhaps most elementally), rhythm."

Perhaps this explains why, when Charlie Barasch takes up his guitar, he’s able to break through the occasional obstacle of writer’s block and free up his creative capacity to write poems.

Here is your assignment for the week. If you’re stuck in you work or  unable to start writing, stand up out of you chair, close your eyes, and sing a song. Not all of us can play the guitar, but most people can pick up the nearest object, tap it with a pencil, and sing a favorite tune by Sinatra, the Clash, the Talking Heads, Van Morrison, Tommy Dorsey. If you’re so moved, dance around the room. Don’t feel silly. Do just exactly what you might enjoy, musically, all by yourself, without being told by an inner critic to stop. Play Once In Love With Amy on the piano. Hum Gershwin. Whistle Mozart. Or just clap your hands for a while, in a rhythm that is recognizable or somehow moving just to you. Then return to your work and see what might have changed since that moment when you turned to music for help. Write for at least half an hour and see if you’ve made progress. 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 South Burlington High School students)

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Interview with Louella Bryant, author of While In Darkness There Is Light. Hosted by Shelagh C. Shapiro, Write The Book airs on WOMM-LP 105.9 FM “The Radiator,” in Burlington, Vermont, every Saturday morning at 9:00 a.m.

Prompt: Today’s Write The Book Prompt is inspired by this holiday season. Love it or hate it, the season is upon us. Probably you have a great many catalogs piling up in your living room or on the back of a toilet somewhere, waiting to be chucked in January. Why not use these to some advantage? Pour yourself a cup of tea or coffee, sit back in your coziest couch, and window shop for your characters. Pick out clothing, furniture, sunglasses. Pick out boots, necklaces, belts. Would your narrator wear new jeans, or faded? Would his fleece have buttons or a zip? Would she be in heels or flats? Boots or strappy sandals? Use your catalogs to fill out a scene whose details have been lacking. Sometimes the poses in magazines look wrong somehow. The snow is synthetic, the beach is off-kilter. Why? What’s missing? How might you write these settings more convincingly? You might look for the things your characters can’t afford. What would substitute? Instead of that pricey lamp, how would she light her desk? A candle in a jelly jar? A flashlight? Look at your catalogs not with the eye of a buyer, but with the imagination of a writer. Make lists of ideas as you go, and then write without catalog in hand for twenty minutes. See what develops.

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

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Interview with author of poetry and prose Sydney Lea. Hosted by Shelagh C. Shapiro, Write The Book airs on WOMM-LP 105.9 FM “The Radiator,” in Burlington, Vermont, every Saturday morning at 9:00 a.m. - a new time for the new hour-long format.

Prompt: Today’s Write The Book Prompt concerns setting. How can a writer describe setting in such a way that it informs readers about a character’s or narrator’s state of mind? Consider the following two excerpts from works by Sydney Lea:

From his essay, “Alone With Friends: A Journal Toward Springtime”

… Landy and I sat for a spell on the tailgate, staring at the clean dark that walked at a human pace up the mountains, feeling a flake or two of snow on our wrists and faces, noting a heron who came languidly flapping out of a back pond, roost-bound early.

From his poem, “The Author in March”

Remnant, rank corn snow

.   perspires like dirty dough.

What few drab birds there are

.   don’t fly up very far,

So hard do the clouds bear down.

.   Not much to this splotch of a town—

Flue smoke, smalltalk, clutter.

.   Last autumn’s leaves clog gutters

Here’s this week’s prompt. Imagine a place in a poem or story you’re writing or are thinking about writing. Using minimal description, make a list of several things—five or six details—that exist in that setting. Now rewrite the list, describing those same details as seen from the perspective of a character who is upset, frustrated or depressed. Then write the list one last time, describing these same things from the point of view of a character who is happy, optimistic or excited. Don’t change the actual details of place, but the lens through which they are viewed. 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 South Burlington High School students)

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Interview with Philip Graham, fiction and cnf writer and co-founder of the journal Ninth Letter. Recent work includes his "Dispatches From Lisbon," published on the McSweeney's website. Hosted by Shelagh C. Shapiro, Write The Book airs on WOMM-LP 105.9 FM “The Radiator,” in Burlington, Vermont, every Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m.

Music credits: 1) “Dreaming 1″ - John Fink; 2) “Do Lado De Cá Do Mar" - Mario Laginha

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Interview with Philip Baruth, UVM Professor, author, VPR commentator and award-winning blogger. Write The Book is a radio show for writers and curious readers. Hosted by Shelagh C. Shapiro, Write The Book airs on WOMM-LP 105.9 FM “The Radiator,” in Burlington, Vermont, every Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m.

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

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