Essays

Online

Sock Drawer,” The Common: A Modern Sense of Place, memoir essay, September 2021

No Doorknob,” About Place Journal: Geographies of Justice, memoir essay, May 2021

Fear and Loathing at the Grocery Store,” McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, April 2020. Short piece from the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic in A FORCE OUTSIDE MYSELF: Citizens over 60 Speak.

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“Craft Tip: The Promise,” Diane Lockward’s Poetry Newsletter January 2013. Notes on the promise of syntax in poetry, and assignments for a rainy day. Collected in The Crafty Poet (Wind Publications, 2013) an anthology of prompts, craft tips and sample poems from poet and Terrapin Books editor Diane Lockward. 

Column: On Poetry 

(2008-2018) Launched in my local newspaper The News Journal the year I was appointed Delaware’s poet laureate, and reprised occasionally @delawareonline when the mood strikes, this Sunday feature column celebrates Poetry Month, random musings, Mid Atlantic writers and events, and creative K12 students. And I always offer a poem or two.

April 2018

“Still writing: Rumors of poetry’s death are greatly exaggerated.” The News Journal, April 22, 2018. “Language is how our ‘real world’ is built.” Top three contestants in Delaware’s Poetry Out Loud poetry recitation contest introduce the poems they chose. On the value of poetry for communicating emotional lives. Poems by Caroline Bird, Kenneth Rexroth and W.D. Ehrhart.

“Teen selected as National Student Poet writes about immigrant family and identity.” The News Journal, April 15, 2018. National Student Poet, Juliet Lubwama from Downingtown, PA talks about being the daughter of Ugandan immigrants and leading a March For Our Lives rally in West Chester. With poems by Lubwama, and her favorite, “The Gift,” by Li-Young Lee.

Poetry helped newbie student find his place.” The News Journal, April 8, 2018. By combining poetry with his job at the UDairy ice cream shop, University of Delaware student and former Poetry Out Loud contestant Christian Wills finds a place in the world. With spoken word text by Wills and his favorite poem by Eve L. Ewing.

P.S. du Pont middle school teacher, poet loves the questions.” The News Journal, April 1, 2018. On being and writing yourself, mentoring 7th grade students, and Terrance Hayes, a poet admired by 23-year-old teacher Gemelle John, 2018 Delaware Division of the Arts fellowship recipient in poetry.

April 2015

“Ode to the words.” The News Journal, April 26, 2015. As Delaware’s 2015 Poetry Out Loud state champion, Hannah Sturgis of POLYTECH High School in Woodside gets ready to compete in Washington, DC. with poems by Sylvia Plath and by Dilruba Ahmed. Related photo gallery and story posted February 27, 2016 for Hannah’s second Poetry Out Loud national competition.

Delaware winners: Young poets tell the world how it feels. The News Journal, April 16, 2015. Poems by Delaware students who brought home national medals in the 2015 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards national contest: Katie Houser, 17, “(Viet)nam;” Emily Lugg, 13, “Dictionary Says;” and Kyna Smith, 16, “Blue October.”

Hip Hop influenced poems continue tradition of revolution. The News Journal, April 12, 2015. A preview of the anthology “The Breakbeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip Hop” (Haymarket, 2015), along with “Guilt” by University of Delaware senior, Gemelle John; and “Genesissy” by award-winning poet Danez Smith, author of [Insert] Boy (YesYes Books, 2014).

Teachers rely on memories to help students write poems. The News Journal, April 9, 2015. On teaching poetry to children: how to share your love of favorite poems. With “Still Life with Heart Extracted from the Body of a Horse” by Matthew Olzmann, award-winning poet from Detroit, sharing his classroom experience.

The language of home: poets mine their childhoods. The News Journal, April 1, 2015. Notes on the house of memory, and poems by Lucian Mattison, 2014 Dogfish Head Poetry Prize recipient for Peregrine Nation (Broadkill River Press) and Linda Blaskey, “Looking West toward the Ozarks” from Best New Poets 2014 (Samovar/Univ. of Virginia Press).

2014

Poet Laureate’s job? Lead horse to water, The News Journal, Oct. 26, 2014. Fleda Brown on the dangers of poetry as commodity, and preserving its “mystery and strangeness.” With my poem, “A Place to Be Somebody: Wilmington, Delaware” from Urban Voices: 51 Poems from 51 American Poets; and Brown’s “The Delaware Poet Laureate Addresses the Delaware Legislature. . . after September 11” from Breathing In, Breathing Out.

Poems about Fathers continue to enchant state poet laureateThe News Journal, June 15, 2014. Perusing  poems about fathers for Father’s Day, and thinking about my dad’s wingtips. With poems  “Fatherhood” and “Goodnight Moon” by James Arthur. “Fatherhood” is from Arthur’s debut collection, Charms Against Lightning (Copper Canyon, 2012).

Is any Mom ever alone on Mother’s Day?” The News Journal, May 11, 2014. Mes enfants me manquent? Yes I miss them terribly, but….A dispatch from my writing desk with a grand view of the Cap Canaille in Cassis, France. With poems “At Ease’ by Camargo Foundation fellow Bonnie Bolling and “Mother’s Day Breakfast” by JoAnn Balingit.

        April 2014 National Poetry Month columns

  • There’s Always a Poem to Finish,” The News Journal, April 20, 2014. DDoA Individual Fellow in Poetry, Jane Miller, talks about her experience at Cape Henlopen Writing Retreat. Poems by 2012 retreat participants Miller, Kit Zac & Maria Masington. Link to the 2014 application.
  • Scholastic National Medalists from Delaware,” The News Journal, April 13, 2014. Adults need to make sure the conversation about creativity and education stays active. “A Lesson On Astronomy” by Kyna Smith, grade 10.
  • Writers gather on 2nd Saturdays,” The News Journal, April 5, 2014. After 30 years and many locations, poets still gather every 2nd Saturday, now in a Wilmington tavern. “Petition” by 2nd Saturday guest reader, Ellen Steinbaum.
  • Mark the shift in seasons,” The News Journal, March 30, 2014. Observations on the coming of spring . . . finally, right? Includes two poems to wake you up by poet Tanya Olson from her first book, Boyishly.

2013

  • “Rural Roots Inspire Sussex County Poet, Linda Blaskey,” The News Journal, April 28, 2013. How Ben gets new shoes, how goats mourn their dead, and three poems by 2013 Delaware Division of the Arts poetry fellow.
  • “Teen Poets Challenge Us to See the World in New Ways,” The News Journal, April 21, 2013. National humanities and youth organizations launch The National Student Poets Program.

2012

  • A Never-ending To Do List,” The News Journal, April 29, 2012. “Theory of Incompletion” by Mark Doty, with 1001 things to do before you die. . .
  • Laws of Bedtime and Beartime,” The News Journal, April 1, 2012. “Learning in the First Grade” by Jane Kenyon, and childhood poetics.

2011

2010

2009

2008

Literary essays

  • “Jane Bowles on Tangier: A Source of Endless Pleasure,” (Mirrors on the Maghrib: Critical Reflections on Paul and Jane Bowles, Caravan Books, 1996).
  • Ralph Cheever Dunning” and “Solita Solano,”(Dictionary of Literary Biography: Americans in Paris 1920-1939, Thompson Gale, 1980, 2005-2006).

Review

  • “Elvis is Back: Fleda Brown’s The Women Who Loved Elvis All Their Lives,” Delaware Today, November 2004