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Zooming In [Draft by Draft]: The Narrowing Lens of “Stranded”

for my father The summer I turned six, I sat on the stinging concrete of our driveway in Lubbock, Texas, with a pair of new roller skates and a book about skating (I don’t remember the title—Amy Learns to Skate?). While my father mowed the backyard, I laced up my white skates and opened the...
Craft Essays

Craft Essays

In our September 2017 issue, Karen Babine pays tribute to the late Brian Doyle’s singular syntax, Jill Talbot walks us draft by draft through the construction of her essay “Stranded,” and Nicole Caron does some messy construction of her own (metaphorically at least).
Are Now All That Remain

Are Now All That Remain

The way he slid Dylan from its cover and fingered the vinyl onto the platter. The way he picked up the needle, more than once, to make sure we heard the sizzle before the song. The way he shuffled into the kitchen in his socks. The hardwood floor of his living room dull and dark....
All or Nothing, Self-Portrait at Twenty-Seven

All or Nothing, Self-Portrait at Twenty-Seven

It’s all empty beer cans and skinny dipping. (Bud Light and chlorine.) A guitar player with a beard who won’t let go as hard as you do. It’s teasing the strings of your orange bikini while he tosses his trunks onto the stone. It’s the ease of your body through dark water. The day he...
Stranded

Stranded

for Tracy This night like a photograph neither one of us can make out when I call you fifteen years later to ask if you remember the gun, the men, the comet. The two of us are on the side of Highway 82 outside of Brownfield, Texas. Forty miles from Lubbock. It’s been a day-long...

A Creative Nonfiction Class Interviews Brian Oliu

Inspired by Dinty W. Moore’s anthology The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Flash Nonfiction and my own struggle with the flash form, I chose to make my Advanced Creative Nonfiction class this semester all about the flash. Along with the anthology, we are reading T Fleischmann’s Syzygy, Beauty (Sarabande, 2012), Maggie Nelson’s Bluets (Wave...

The Admissions Essay vs. the Permission Essay

Most of the students who enroll in the Introduction to Creative Nonfiction course at the university where I teach have little to no knowledge of the genre and even less of the personal essay. So, the first assignment I give is to write an autobiographical essay with the following requirements: 1. You may begin at...

A Creative Nonfiction Class Interviews Ryan Van Meter

The two required texts in the fall 2011 creative nonfiction writing course I taught at St. Lawrence University were the Touchstone Anthology of Contemporary Creative Nonfiction (Touchstone, 2007) and Ryan Van Meter’s essay collection If You Knew Then What I Know Now (Sarabande Books, 2011). I contacted Ryan, asking if he’d be willing to participate in the class’s study...