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Category: creative writing (page 2 of 7)

reading elizabeth strout’s olive kitteridge

For my fiction writing class this semester, I selected the 2009 Pulitzer-Prize-winning novel in stories Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout. I hadn’t read it prior to the class (as I sometimes like to read a book for the first time along with my students), but I quickly found myself immersed in the lives of the people in Crosby, Maine, each and every one touched by one oft-misunderstood woman Olive Kitteridge; Olive is a large, loud, generally abrasive women who upon first meeting is sure to rub you the wrong way with her incisive candor. After the first chapter, told from her husband’s point of view, I found little to like about Mrs. Kitteridge. However, once I was privy to her point of view, things began to change (as might be expected). Like in life, if we are given the chance (or take the chance) to see through another person’s eyes, we just might identify with that person–or at least be slower to judge. By that second story, I empathized with Olive. Clearly Strout had yet to reveal all there was to know about her heroine. Before long, I truly admired Olive for her strength, her unflinching honesty, her quiet compassion, and her wisdom. I know that I won’t soon forget her. I highly recommend this book.

an hour with ted kooser on a saturday morning

This morning Aidan (my six year old son) and I sat for an hour together watching Ted Kooser read his poetry to a packed hall at UC Santa Barbara in August of 2005. Kooser has such a gentle and honest style. He helps us notice the simple magnificence that surrounds us all. It was an hour well spent. Aidan was enthralled.

vase gone gravy boat

Thrown with a slap
The heft of cool clay
Against stainless steel wheel
Etched with concentric circles.

Crooked, imbalanced
Like the bent rim
From a childhood bicycle
It thumps with
Centrifugal petulance

Against cupped and pressing
Hands slouched over the work
Muscling into form
As the whirl of the wheel quickens
and flings droplets like chocolate milk.

Thumbs digging in
Dirty fingers and
Knuckles caked with mud
Shapes up and yields
To fine form.

Until a final pull
When the clay bucks and finds its own way.

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