m a r g i n a l i a

notes from a creative writing PhD candidate

on reading for phd comprehensive exams

“The PhD is the best gift you will ever give yourself.” Author Roxane Gay gave us–a group of fangirling, bushy-tailed creative writing PhD candidates–this tiny morsel of encouragement last year … Continue reading

July 20, 2017 · 2 Comments

Book Review: Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

After devouring Ta-Nehisi Coates’ National Book Award-winning Between the World and Me in a single afternoon, I came away from my reading wholly impressed by the author’s brilliance, eloquence, and … Continue reading

April 27, 2016 · 1 Comment

my first month as a creative writing PhD candidate

Well…that was rough. I’ve just completed my first month as a PhD candidate in the English/Creative Writing program at the University of Missouri.  I took a couple years off after … Continue reading

September 17, 2015 · 2 Comments

medicine, madness, ironmans, & travel: 4 nonfiction reading recommendations

Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness, by Susannah Cahalan (2013) I flew through this one–a random, impulse purchase from the helter-skelter book section in a local Wal-Mart–in two days. … Continue reading

June 5, 2015 · Leave a comment

brian doyle, “the greatest nature essay ever”

. . .would begin with an image so startling and lovely and wondrous that you would stop riffling through the rest of the mail, take your jacket off, sit down … Continue reading

June 3, 2015 · 2 Comments

a conversation with writer j.c. hallman, author of b & me

Last Tuesday I had the privilege of spending an afternoon at Open City, a diner and bar in D.C., in the company of writer J.C. Hallman, author of six books of … Continue reading

June 2, 2015 · Leave a comment

book review: ultrarunner scott jurek’s eat & run

“I belong to a small, eclectic community of men and women where status is calibrated precisely as a function of one’s ability to endure.” Recently I finished reading Eat & … Continue reading

May 22, 2015 · Leave a comment

on running, on literature, on noticing

This blog began with a focus on literature.  Lately it’s turned to another, newer passion of mine: long distance running. I spent some time this week thinking–while plodding along on my new favorite … Continue reading

April 30, 2015 · Leave a comment

on eating animals: chef anthony bourdain, novelist jonathan safran foer, and ultrarunner scott jurek

In college I had a crush on a long-haired, Birkenstock-wearing guy who let everyone who would listen know he was a proud vegan.  This man was attractive to me for many reasons, but … Continue reading

April 26, 2015 · 3 Comments

the 2015 north face endurance challenge (D.C.): race review

Months ago I signed up for The North Face Endurance Challenge series in Washington, D.C.  TNFEC is held all over North America, with races in New York, Utah, Wisconsin, California … Continue reading

April 20, 2015 · 2 Comments

teaching food studies: article/essay hits and misses

This past semester I moved up the academic ranks from teaching First Year Composition to Advanced Composition, where I have a bit more freedom in regards to selecting texts.  Since … Continue reading

April 13, 2015 · Leave a comment

PhDelicious: baked jalepeño peppers

As you may know, I’m a runner, but I’m also a cheese enthusiast.  (Perhaps I need to run long distances because I eat so much cheese?  Hmm.)  I also love … Continue reading

April 13, 2015 · Leave a comment

six month hiatus: from adjunct to term faculty to PhD student

It’s been half a year since I last posted on my blog–far too long, really, and I can’t believe I’ve fallen into such a rut in regards to posting on … Continue reading

April 5, 2015 · 2 Comments

ultrarunner anton krupicka – in the high country

“In the High Country is an impressionistic mountain running film: a visual essay about a life in the mountains. It looks at running from a new perspective, both visually and … Continue reading

October 10, 2014 · Leave a comment

notable mention in the best american essays 2014!!

An essay I wrote in graduate school, “Missed,” was published last year in The Masters Review, an annual journal of graduate student writing.  Last year’s volume featured ten writers whose work … Continue reading

October 10, 2014 · Leave a comment

the 2014 woodrow wilson bridge half marathon in washington, d.c.

I completed my second half marathon yesterday–and beat my first time by nearly 5 minutes! As most runners will tell you, once you complete a half, you’re addicted.  As I … Continue reading

October 6, 2014 · Leave a comment

“grief calls us to the things of this world”

The morning air is all awash with angels —Richard Wilbur, “Love Calls Us to the Things of This World” The eyes open to a blue telephone In the bathroom of … Continue reading

October 5, 2014 · Leave a comment

“balloons” | a poem by sylvia plath

Since Christmas they have lived with us, Guileless and clear, Oval soul-animals, Taking up half the space, Moving and rubbing on the silk Invisible air drifts, Giving a shriek and … Continue reading

October 5, 2014 · Leave a comment

stephen king, “on writing: a memoir of the craft”

“Life isn’t a support-system for art.  It’s the other way around.” Steven King’s book impressed me beyond my expectations: he’s hilarious, inspiring, and a fantastic teacher.  Sure, he’s made millions with … Continue reading

October 4, 2014 · Leave a comment

an interview with mary roach

In October 2011 I wrote this blog post for the Phoebe literary magazine’s blog.  An early birthday present from my editor, I was given the opportunity to interview Mary Roach, … Continue reading

September 22, 2014 · 1 Comment

margaret talbot on writing

Over a year ago, in April 2013, I had the opportunity to meet author Margaret Talbot.  Margaret, a staff writer at The New Yorker, gave me and a few other … Continue reading

September 21, 2014 · Leave a comment

anne carson & the lyric essay – “very narrow”

               Water is best. – Pindar                Memory is of the past. – Aristotle          … Continue reading

September 21, 2014 · 2 Comments

excerpt from joan didion’s “on keeping a notebook” (1966)

“‘That woman Estelle,’” the note reads, “‘is partly the reason why George Sharp and I are separated today.’ Dirty crepe-de-Chine wrapper, hotel bar, Wilmington RR, 9:45 a.m. August Monday morning.” … Continue reading

September 16, 2014 · Leave a comment

when trees dream of being trees

The tree decided to stop growing after it grew its thousandth leaf. “No more,” it whispered, and started throwing flimsily attached twigs and old nests down, and shaking the birds … Continue reading

September 11, 2014 · 1 Comment

one liar’s beginnings.

ONE LIAR’S BEGINNINGS    by Brady Udall Before all else, let me make my confession: I am a liar. For me, admitting to being a liar is just about the … Continue reading

September 10, 2014 · Leave a comment

except in memory

“A journey is a gesture inscribed in space, it vanishes even as it’s made. You go from one place to another place, and on to somewhere else again, and already … Continue reading

September 10, 2014 · Leave a comment

jack kerouac | 30 beliefs & techniques for modern prose

I gave this to an undergraduate creative writing class once, and they almost shit themselves.  “WTF is this?  Was he, like, drunk when he wrote it?”  “How are we supposed … Continue reading

September 8, 2014 · Leave a comment

rainbow rowell’s (not so young) adult fiction

When I visited Mexico City this April, I couldn’t help but notice dozens of teenagers and college students toting around a book with a bright blue, simply designed cover.  They were immersed, … Continue reading

September 8, 2014 · 1 Comment

the corporate extraction: goodbye stock market, helloooo academia!

I’MDONEI’MDONEI’MDONEI’MDONEI’MDONEEEEEEEEE! Ten months of sitting in front of two glaring computer monitors, planting myself in a chair for eight stressful nonstop hours, ninety-minute dirty metro rides twice a day, shoveling lukewarm yogurt … Continue reading

July 28, 2014 · 1 Comment

already possessed: why, only 10 pages in, i can’t get enough of elif batuman

Possessed: what an astute name for the way we can become completely entranced by a book.  It happens quickly; it only takes a few pages, or paragraphs, for us to … Continue reading

July 21, 2014 · Leave a comment

who wants to move to portland with me?

Portland’s almost an alternative universe.  It’s like Gore won.  The Bush administration never happened. In Portland you can put a bird on something and just call it art. In Portland … Continue reading

July 17, 2014 · 3 Comments

i was told there’d be cake: essays by sloane crosley

Is Sloane Crosley “the female David Sedaris”?  Some critics have hailed her so, but for every person who thinks I Was Told There’d Be Cake is as funny, well-rendered, and … Continue reading

July 10, 2014 · 3 Comments

awkward and painful things i learned from my first half marathon

1. You may never spot your friend or significant other along the course–so don’t entrust them with the necessary nutrition and gear you’ll need.  The race website said there would be two viewing … Continue reading

July 7, 2014 · 1 Comment

if you like running (or just really inspiring, interesting books), read these.

More in-depth reviews of these books will be posted soon, but I just had to share my epic running reading list from the past month.  If you know of any … Continue reading

July 7, 2014 · 4 Comments

the blog hop: commentary on the writing process

My talented writer friend, former MFA workshop mate, and colleague at Phoebe and The Breeze, Will, tagged me in the Writing Process Blog Hop.  He answered four questions about how … Continue reading

June 25, 2014 · 3 Comments

getting sick in the slovak republic — strange adventures in healthcare abroad

In 2009 I traveled to Zilina, Slovakia for a year-long Fulbright Fellowship.  Two months into my teaching assistantship I became extremely ill.  What follows is my (slightly humorous, very odd) account … Continue reading

June 13, 2014 · 4 Comments

when the last tree is cut down, the last fish eaten, and the last stream poisoned, you will realize that you cannot eat money.

Academia has been my world for the past eight years; I graduated college with a degree in English and Anthropology, completed a Fulbright, and dove headfirst into an MFA program in Creative … Continue reading

June 9, 2014 · 1 Comment

review: the 2014 virginia wine country half marathon

I couldn’t have picked a better first half marathon.  The weather was ideal: sunny and clear, 65 degrees at 7:00 a.m., not a cloud in the sky.  Fields, wildflowers, horses, … Continue reading

June 6, 2014 · 5 Comments

found poetry | reframing spaces and lines to impart new meaning

A talented creative writing student of mine taught me how to write a “found” poem.  She showed me a marked-up page of Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle, a favorite book of hers, and then … Continue reading

June 3, 2014 · Leave a comment

jhumpa lahiri, “trading stories: notes from an apprenticeship”

Books, and the stories they contained, were the only things I felt I was able to possess as a child. Even then, the possession was not literal; my father is … Continue reading

May 29, 2014 · Leave a comment

three. more. days. | training for a (first!) half marathon

When there’s no more gas in the tank, seasoned marathoners say that repeating a mantra while running can keep you motivated.  Phrases like “One step at a time,” “Just keep going,” and … Continue reading

May 28, 2014 · Leave a comment

ernesto “che” guevara – excerpts on education & healthcare from “the motorcycle diaries”

“In the way I traveled, first as a student and afterward as a doctor, I began to come into close contact with poverty, with hunger, with disease, with the inability … Continue reading

May 22, 2014 · 2 Comments

love & death in the balkans: brkic’s “the stone fields”

“What is a moment of death compared to a lifetime of it?” Book Review: Courtney Angela Brkic’s The Stone Fields, 2005 The Stone Fields alternates between a chronological historical recounting of Brkic’s father’s family … Continue reading

May 21, 2014 · Leave a comment

frank o’hara, “to the harbormaster” (1957)

To the Harbormaster By Frank O’Hara I wanted to be sure to reach you; though my ship was on the way it got caught in some moorings. I am always … Continue reading

May 21, 2014 · Leave a comment

“meditations in an emergency” – frank o’hara

“I’ve got to get out of here.” Meditations in an Emergency Am I to become profligate as if I were a blonde? Or religious as if I were French? Each … Continue reading

May 19, 2014 · Leave a comment

sylvia plath’s “the rival”

We all know someone like this, don’t we?  Nailed it, Sylvia.   The Rival If the moon smiled, she would resemble you. You leave the same impression Of something beautiful, … Continue reading

May 19, 2014 · Leave a comment

a summer reading list

A book a week: that’s my summer reading goal.  A fast reader by nature, I can usually manage a few hundred pages a week; I read two hours a day on the … Continue reading

May 18, 2014 · Leave a comment

didion, mccullers, che & more: on travel & memory

“We are homesick most for the places we have never known.” –Carson McCullers ————— “His father guessed what he was thinking, and spoke of what it had meant to them … Continue reading

May 16, 2014 · Leave a comment

anne sexton’s “her kind” & sylvia plath’s “the applicant”

Plath and Sexton: beautifully haunting, confessional female poets that explore similiar themes.  The following two poems were published in the early 1960s, on the cusp of second-wave feminism. The Applicant First, are … Continue reading

May 16, 2014 · Leave a comment

“having a coke with you” by frank o’hara

Who wouldn’t want to have a coke, or spend a day looking at paintings, with the amazing Frank O’Hara?  I love this poem. Having a Coke with You is even … Continue reading

May 15, 2014 · Leave a comment

falling in love with the DF: the mexico city reader

“Earth and water: it is a city that harbors nature, rather than excludes it… [we] treat the city not only as a setting or a moral environment but as a main … Continue reading

May 14, 2014 · Leave a comment

to what degree?: MA in english lit vs. MFA in creative writing

It took a single haphazardly chosen elective to alter the course of my academic path.  In the final semester of my senior year at James Madison University I enrolled in my first creative … Continue reading

May 14, 2014 · 4 Comments

poll: kerouac favorites

It’s a difficult question: If you had to choose your favorite Kerouac book, what would it be?  & Why? I haven’t read all of his works, but I’ve devoured, multiple … Continue reading

May 9, 2014 · Leave a comment

introductions

Underneath my childhood bed, in my father’s home, I keep eleven tattered journals stored in an anqitue hat box.  My first journal, given to me on Christmas Day in 1993, is … Continue reading

May 9, 2014 · Leave a comment

jack kerouac’s “fifteen strange seconds”

“I woke up as the sun was reddening; and that was the one distinct time in my life, the strangest moment of all, when I didn’t know who I was–I … Continue reading

May 9, 2014 · Leave a comment

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