Mixing Memory With Desire: Poetry and Public Schools

"April is the cruellest month, ..."

IMG_1291Nearly every year on April 1, I re-read T.S. Eliot’s “The Waste Land.” It’s one of my favorite poems, and while I pay homage to it by quoting and requoting lines from it in conversation year-round, I also like to sit down and read it through periodically. The opening line, quoted above, is of course why I choose April 1 for this pleasure. (Also, April is National Poetry Month, so there’s another reason, though not the one that drives me.)

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God, I love Chicago!

TheBeanI’m not the only one. Neil Steinberg does, too. So do a lot of other people—presumably including the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who wrote of thinking to himself “God, I am in Chicago” after first arriving in the city for a visit at the age of 15.

Steinberg recounts that moment of Jackson’s among many other stories in his 2012 book You Were Never in Chicago, which I read recently and reviewed over at Escape into Life. It’s one of many memorable tales Steinberg brings to life in the book, which took me down memory lane—both as a journalist and as an adoptive Chicagoan—while also teaching me more about the history of the city I love.

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Eliminate these 2 words to improve your writing

Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be. -Mark Twain

ReadWriteI just stumbled upon a web page (truly stumbled upon, as in “Thanks, Stumble Upon, the social media network I almost never use but might start glancing at occasionally after this!”) with a Mark Twain quote so priceless that it inspired this post:

It’s not just the quote, though. The article on the Writers Write website, “45 Ways to avoid using the word ‘very,'” goes to the heart of one of my pet peeves. There are two words that I think writers should excise from their vocabulary, and one of them is in fact “very.” The other? “Thing.” Continue reading

Fact vs. Fiction: If it’s on the Internet, does it have copyright protection?

Author=Stephan Baum, Sanbec, ttog

Image: CC Stephan Baum

It makes me sad that many people don’t already know the answer to this question, but experience tells me they don’t. So consider this a public service announcement on behalf of content creators everywhere. (Yes, my writer and illustrator friends, this one’s for you.) And for those of you who already know the answer to the question, please join me in a campaign to spread the word. Continue reading

Reporters and Editors: You’re Marketers Now (Like it or Not)

Keyboards/kimkishbaughThe lines have blurred for reporters and editors these days.

We used to be able to position ourselves above the fray. We’re objective, we’d say. We tell the story the way it really is. PR people may spin the news, but we tell it straight.

All of that’s true. And all of that’s valid. But it’s no longer the whole story.

Truth is, reporters and editors have to shoulder a share of the marketing effort these days. Continue reading