At the end of this week, I’ll be in Oxford, Mississippi, teaching a memoir workshop preceding the Oxford Creative Nonfiction Conference and then sticking around to be on a panel during the conference proper. Thus begins the season of writers’ conference teaching with other visits to Rowe, Massachusetts; Yellow Springs, Ohio; and Montpelier, Vermont, to…

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Sunday morning, and I’m thinking of my students who are about to graduate, and another Sunday when I was fifteen, and my mother was working in the laundry at a nursing home in Sumner, Illinois, where the population was around 1,000 at the time. She had to be at work at 5am, which meant I…

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Maybe this is nostalgia, or maybe it has something to say about the work a writer does. I’ll leave that up to you. I was a boy who didn’t understand the things my father loved. I had my sights set in a different direction. Each spring, before I graduated from the eighth grade, and my…

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It’s MFA thesis defense season, and that has me thinking about the best and the worst things that can come from such an exercise. I remember well my own thesis defense in which I was told all the things I’d done wrong in my slim collection of stories. Helpful? To the extent that it gave…

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A series of articles has appeared lately about the inclusion of the rural poor in a university’s attempt to admit a diversified group of first-year students. Syndicated columnist, Ross Douthat, writes, “The most underrepresented groups on elite campuses often aren’t racial minorities; they’re working-class whites (and white Christians in particular) from conservative states and regions.…

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