Welcome to my little scratch of virtual land. Here you'll find essays about the writing craft; writing exercises, tips, games, and lessons; word-nerd humor; and other writer-oriented content. For a weekly newsletter and a boat-load of freebies, join the Creative Writing Collective by jotting your email in the box below.

Does anyone else feel this lonely?

Dear David Foster Wallace:

Having just finished Consider the Lobster: And Other Essays, I wanted to write to you. Of course, I realize you’re dead and therefore will either get this message immediately (via whatever angel-in-cloud spy network is set up so the infinitely-bored deceased can spy on us) or never get it at all. So, yes, I’m writing to you in the abstract—but I can’t shake the feeling that this is about more than the abstraction of you.

There’s this phrase in my head lately: You can’t decide who you’re related to but you can decide who your family is. Is it arrogant to say I feel like you’re a sort of big brother to me right now? Is this trying to pick up on some reflected glory? (When I wrote “reflective glory” just now, was that a typo or did I mean your penetrating way of looking into the world and yourself?)

Read more.

Spotlight: Melanie Rae Thon [Poet/Writer]

I had the pleasure of attending a reading, workshop, and dinner with writer Melanie Rae Thon early last week. While I will go into the details of those events in a separate entry, I want to take this opportunity to introduce you to Melanie.

Melanie Rae Thon (Writer)

Who Is Melanie Rae Thon?

Despite the spelling (“Thon”), her last name is pronounced “Tone”—a homophone with appropriately lyric associations. In reading The Voice of the River (Melanie’s most recent novel), it was difficult for me to categorize the work, especially when I described it to friends. Eventually I gave up and just said, “You know what? It’s a poem. It’s a novel-length poem.”

This is a comment on the style, density, and beauty of the work—meant as neither compliment nor insult but as a way to say, “This ain’t your typical prose.”

Read more.

Spotlight: Jamaal May [Poet]

Jamaal May performing poetry

Who Is Jamaal May?

Jamaal is a poet of both the stage and page. His background (which starts with “Detroiter” but extends to the point of breaking borders, breaking until borders extend) has given him a compelling voice loaded with a power that bridges the gap between raw and refined.

Jamaal May (Slam)

“The overall goal of the art I make is to resist summary,” he told me, which is why he’s sometimes uncomfortable bracketing himself with labels that are incomplete and often misleading. That said, Jamaal’s pursuits lead him naturally to the titles poet, performer, educator, and editor. In looking at modern poetry, Jamaal can give us a rare perspective that combines backgrounds often seen as incompatible: His work has been recognized in both the more academic end of the poetry pool and in the slam poetry scene.

On the “slam” side of things:

Jamaal is a three-time Rustbelt Regional Slam champion; has been a member of six national slam teams (including five Detroit teams and the 2012 semi-finalist NYC LouderARTS team); and has been a finalist at several national and international poetry slams.

Read more.