m a r g i n a l i a

notes from a creative writing PhD candidate

Category Archives: nonfiction creative writing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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