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Bret and Kim Stafford, the oldest children of the poet and pacifist William Stafford, were pals. Bret was the good son, the obedient public servant, Kim the itinerant wanderer. In this family of two parent teachers, with its intermittent celebration of “talking recklessly,” there was a code of silence about hard things: “Why tell what hurts?” As childhood pleasures ebbed, this reticence took its toll on Bret, unable to reveal his troubles. Against a backdrop of the 1960s — puritan in the summer of love, pacifist in the Vietnam era — Bret became a casualty of his interior war and took his life in 1988. 100 Tricks Every Boy Can Do casts spells in search of the lost brother: climbing the water tower to stand naked under the moon, cowboys and Indians with real bullets, breaking into church to play a serenade for God, struggling for love, and making bail. In this book, through a brother’s devotions, the lost saint teaches us about depression, the tender ancestry of violence, the quest for harmonious relations, and finally the trick of joy.
Some of the country’s most admired authors—including Andre Dubus III, Mark Doty, Marianne Leone, Michael Patrick MacDonald, Richard Blanco, Abigail Thomas, Kate Bornstein, Jerald Walker, and Kyoko Mori—describe their treks through dark memories and breakthrough moments and attest to the healing power of putting words to experience. What does it take to write an honest memoir? And what happens to us when we embark on that journey? Melanie Brooks sought guidance from the memoirists who most moved her to answer these questions. Called an essential book for creative writers by Poets & Writers, Writing Hard Stories is a unique compilation of authentic stories about the death of a partner, parent, or child; about violence and shunning; and about the process of writing. It will serve as a tool for teachers of writing and give readers an intimate look into the lives of the authors they love. Authors profiled in Writing Hard Stories: Andre Dubus III, Sue William Silverman, Michael Patrick MacDonald, Joan Wickersham, Kyoko Mori, Richard Hoffman, Suzanne Strempek Shea, Abigail Thomas, Monica Wood, Mark Doty, Edwidge Dantict, Marianne Leone, Jerald Walker, Kate Bornstein, Jessica Handler, Richard Blanco, Alysia Abbott, and Kim Stafford Insights from Writing Hard Stories “Why we endeavor collectively to write a book or paint a canvas or write a symphony...is to understand who we are as human beings, and it’s that shared knowledge that somehow helps us to survive.”—Richard Blanco “Here’s what you need to understand: your brothers [or family or friends] are going to have their own stories to tell. You don’t have to tell the family story. You have to tell your story of being in that family.”—Andre Dubus III “We all need a way to express or make something out of experiences that otherwise have no meaning. If what you want is clarity and meaning, you have to break the secrets over your knee and make something of those ingredients.”—Abigail Thomas “What we remember and how we remember it really tells us how we became who we became.”—Michael Patrick MacDonald “The reason I write memoir is to be able to see the experience itself...I hardly know what I think until I write...Writing is a way to organize your life, give it a frame, give it a structure, so that you can really see what it was that happened.”—Sue William Silverman “After a while in the process, you have some distance and you start thinking of it as a story, not as your story...It was a personal grief, but no longer personal...[It’s] something that has not just happened to me and my family, but something that’s happened in the world.”—Edwidge Danticat “Tibetan Buddhists believe that eloquence is the telling of a truth in such a way that it eases suffering...The more suffering that is eased by your telling of the truth, the more eloquent you are. That’s all you can really hope for—being eloquent in that fashion. All you have to do is respond to your story honestly, and that’s the ideal.”—Kate Bornstein “You can never entirely redeem the experience. You can’t make it not hurt anymore. But you can make it beautiful enough so that there’s something to balance it in the other scale. And if you understand that word beautiful as not necessarily pretty, then you’re getting close to recognizing the integrative power of restoring the balance, which is restoring the truth.”—Richard Hoffman
A prolific writer, famous pacifist, respected teacher, and literary mentor to many, William Stafford is one of the great American poets of the 20th century. His first major collection--Traveling through the Dark--won the National Book Award. William Stafford published more than sixty-five volumes of poetry and prose and was Poetry Consultant to the Library of Congress--a position now know as the Poet Laureate. Before William Stafford's death in 1993, he gave his son Kim the greatest gift and challenge: to be his literary executor. In Early Morning, Kim creates an intimate portrait of a father and son who shared many passions: archery, photography, carpentry, and finally, writing itself. But Kim also confronts the great paradox at the center of William Stafford's life. The public man, the poet who was always communicating with warmth and feeling--even with strangers--was capable of profound, and often painful silence within the family. By piecing together a collage of his personal and family memories, and sifting through thousands of pages, of his father's daily writing and poems, Kim illuminates a fascinating and richly lived life.
A collection of essays first published in 1986, Having Everything Right revolves around the history, folklore, and physical beauty of the Pacific Northwest. In terms of genre the book comes closest to books like Wallace Stegner’s Wolf Willow or the essay collections of Edward Abbey and Wendell Berry, books that blend personal vision and regional evocation. Stafford's essays in this tradition range from the direct exploration of "A Walk in Early May" to the abstract meditation of "Out of This World with Chaucer and the Astronauts," to the familial and social reflections of "The Great Depression as Heroic Age." Animating them all is the sense that there is joy in knowing the world-and the belief that true knowing brings, as Stafford says, "a change of heart." Stafford writes poetic and evocative prose as he reflects on such subjects as Indian place names, bears, and local eccentrics.
ÿWriting for Blissÿis most fundamentally about reflection, truth, and freedom. With techniques and prompts for both the seasoned and novice writer, it will lead you to tap into your creativity through storytelling and poetry,examine how life-changing experiences can inspire writing,pursue self-examination and self-discovery through the written word, and,understand how published writers have been transformed by writing.Poet and memoirist Raab (Lust) credits her lifelong love of writing and its therapeutic effects with inspiring her to write this thoughtful and detailed primer that targets pretty much anyone interested in writing a memoir. Most compelling here is Raab?s willingness to share her intimate stories (e.g., the loss of a relative, ongoing struggles with cancer, a difficult relationship with her mother). Her revelations are encouraging to writers who feel they need ?permission to take... a voyage of self-discovery.? The book?s seven-step plan includes plenty of guidance, including on learning to ?read like a writer,? and on addressing readers as if ?seated across the table .? Raab covers big topics such as the ?art and power of storytelling? and small details such as choosing pens and notebooks that you enjoy using. She also helps readers with the important step of ?finding your form.? --PUBLISHER'S WEEKLY "Writing for Blissÿis about the profound ways in which we may be transformed in and through the act of writing. I am grateful to Diana Raab for sharing it, and I trust that you will feel the same as you read on. May you savor the journey." --from the foreword by MARK FREEMAN, PhD "By listening to ourselves and being aware of what we are saying and feeling, the true story of our life's past experience is revealed. Diana Raab?s book gives us the insights by which we can achieve this through her life-coaching wisdom and our writing." --BERNIE SIEGEL, MD, author ofÿThe Art of Healing "Only a talented writer who has fought hard to overcome life?s many obstacles could take her readers by the hand and lead them through the writing process with such enormous compassion, amazing insight, and kindness. Diana Raab is a powerful, wise, intelligent guide well worth our following." --JAMES BROWN, author ofÿThe Los Angeles DiariesÿandÿThe River "Writing for Blissÿis far more than a 'how-to manual'; it enlightens the creative process with wisdom and a delightful sense of adventure. Bravo to Bliss!" --LINDA GRAY SEXTON, author ofÿSearching for Mercy Street: My Journey Back to My Mother, Anne Sexton "Uniquely blending inspiring insights with practical advice, Diana guides you on a path to discover the story that is truly inside you?and yearning to be told." --PATRICK SWEENEY, coauthor of the New York Times bestsellerÿSucceed on Your Own Terms DIANA RAAB, PhD, is an award-winning memoirist, poet, blogger, workshop facilitator, thought provoker, and survivor. She?s the author of eight books and over one thousand articles and poems. She lives in Southern California. Learn more at www.DianaRaab.com

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