‘Bee’ Reviewed: A Number by Caryl Churchill

This week on ‘Bee’ Reviewed is one of the more unique plays that I’ve come across, A Number by Caryl Churchill was first staged in 2002. The play was produced around the time of the Dolly sheep cloning experiment and clearly is impacted by the ethical, moral, legal, etc. complications that cloning poses to our society. Salter, an aging father, meets with three of his sons (two clones, one not) throughout the course of the play; he spends some of the play lying to them lying to them (in order to try to keep his growing web of lies straight) and some of it Read more…

What I’m Working On

Welcome to another update of ‘what I’m working on’ where I tell you all a bit about the progression of my life as I wander towards old age. Because grad school is about to start, I actually have two types of updates for you – a small research update, and another on writing! Research: It turns out my dreams of looking at bee brains will have to wait – while I look at ant brains instead. I don’t know how much of my research I’m allowed to talk about online (or if I’m allowed to post any pictures) but the Read more…

Getting Hitched to Your Writing

The more reading I do about the subject of writing, the more I come across this idea: you must take your writing life seriously. Gabriela Pereira says it in DIY MFA, Carolyn See in Making a Literary Life, and Andi Cumbo-Floyd says it excellently in this recent post on their blog. There are internal and external factors that lead to our writing lives dwindling. Internally, I struggle with the insecurity that my writing isn’t good enough; I bump up against the frustration that I will need to put in so much time and practice to, maybe, never get anywhere at all. I worry that I will spend Read more…

‘Bee’ Reviewed: The Best of The Best from 2000

This book, The Best of the Best American Science Writing is just chock-full of what we love on this blog (in case you missed it, that’s science and writing)! This collection is the culmination of ten years of other collected essays. From 2000 to 2009, The Best of American Science Writing books were published yearly. Now, each editor of one of those books has been asked to select the two best essays from their year, resulting in this volume. The Best of the Best of 2000 ended up being two medical essays – “When Doctors Make Mistakes” by Atul Gawande (who I’d already written some about here) Read more…

DIY MFA Part 3: MFA Mythology

In Chapter Two, “Customize Your Learning”, Pereira goes over some myths of the MFA – that you need one to teach writing, that an MFA is a shortcut to getting published (who believes that??), and that the program will force you to make writing a priority. I don’t know that I’m convinced an MFA or PhD in writing wouldn’t help if you were looking to be a professor (though I agree with Pereira that many professors find they don’t have the time to keep writing a priority). Pereira says that it’s publishing professionals and successful authors who are being selected Read more…

‘Bee’ Reviewed: Square Rounds

I knew Tony Harrison more as a poet than a playwright which is why the play Square Rounds took me by surprise. Harrison takes on a lot with this play and I’ll admit that reading it, as opposed to seeing it performed, clearly does not do all the ideas of the play justice. There’s a lot of important stage direction in this play that can be tough to wade through and imagine. Square Rounds deals with the ethics of science – when chemical discoveries can lead to fertilizers that could help feed all of humanity but also can lead to toxic bombs Read more…

First Book Launch

On August 12th, I traveled into NYC to attend the DIY MFA Book Launch as part of the 2016 Writer’s Digest Conference. Having never attended a book launch, I was surprisingly unsure of what to expect – what my etiquette should be as an attendee and what would even happen AT the launch. Here’s what I learned last Friday. What happens at a book launch: Arriving at the launch, there’s a large stack of freshly printed DIY MFA books sitting ready to go for people to purchase. A table is set up for signings, a podium with a microphone stares down several rows Read more…

DIY MFA: Iteration Update – Running

So my first iteration didn’t work out perfectly which, actually, was expected. If you recall, in my post from August 1 I said: “For my first two weeks, Aug 1 to Aug 14, I will be travelling between my former home and new home, so I’ve decided to test the input of light exercise over factors I think are actually more important to my writing (like place, writing time, and music/noise) which I cannot control given my extended travel. Each day before writing, I will stretch and take a ten minute run (hey, it’s hot out okay?) to see if that Read more…

Biopoetics: Dicotyledons

First published in Mind Murals, page 10, Spring 2016. Listen to it read aloud here. The poem is the only shape poem I’ve ever attempted, but I was inspired by the uniquely beautiful shape of the double samara – the ‘helicopter’ fruit. These seeds are characteristic of dicots (short for dicotyledons), so named because they have two (di) cotyledons (small leaves inside the seed that are the first “leaves” to appear after germination). In sugar maples, these cotyledons store food/nutrients for the seed and, once the seed germinates, photosynthesize until true leaves can grow. I feel the poem is a Read more…

‘Bee’ Reviewed: Soil

This week on ‘Bee’ Reviewed is Tim Cresswell’s Soil, a poetry collection packed with detritus and reference to place, be it urban or natural. Tim Cresswell is a poet and geographer from Britain and Soil is his debut collection of poetry. I typically try not to write negative reviews, but unfortunately this collection mostly wasn’t my speed (but who knows – it could be yours!). Each of Cresswell’s poems very clearly evokes a feeling of place, be it the airport, the countertop in an urban home, a mine fallen into disrepair, or the forest floor. We are moved constantly as Read more…