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Out and About

My Homeschool MFA includes reading and writing close to home most every day. But I also want to get out into the wider world. This can be a reading or a conference–in January I went to AWP and got to meet Patricia, in April I took my girl to see Austin Kleon. This weekend was the Portland Book Festival.

I spent the day with Tonia–when we’re together, we talk and nod and laugh at our introverted writer ways. But we are also both growing more and more at home in our writerly habits. She’ll be done with a draft of her second novel by the end of the month, and I had some new publication news to share. So it was very good to be together.

We had lunch with Melissa Wiley and heard more about her upcoming release–a middle grade novel out in 2020 called The Nerviest Girl in the World. There was only a slight skirmish when I came home with an ARC. One book and three people who all desperately wanted to start reading it!

Barry Lopez spoke of the work of the writer being to create the atmosphere where readers can uncover reliable patterns and wisdom can be revealed. Sounded a lot like the work of homeschooling to my ears!

George Estreich read from his new book Fables and Futures about the stories we tell to sell biotechnology and how we talk about what it means to be human. I feel like Andy and I have been discussing this since 1999 when we read Book of Life, the first book by Barbara Katz Rothman we ever read.

Kim Stafford talked about his work as poet laureate, speaking to people all over the state about poems. He told us his dad said that a piece of writing should be like a cup of hot coffee. You offer it with the handle facing out, giving the reader a friendly way into the piece.

I got to give Dylan Meconis drawings my kids had copied from her excellent graphic novel called Queen of the Sea. Also admired her lovely pregnant belly!

Molly Gloss talked about her stories as being place-based. And she personally recommended Hearts of Horses for my newly 13 year old girl. Of course I came home and put it on hold immediately. Falling from Horses, the follow up novel, would be an exceptional companion piece to Melissa Wiley’s book.

To see all the posts in the series Listening to My Life :: Homeschooling an MFA in Poetry, click here.


  1. So many exciting things to do. And such good company. I remember when you were my sidekick and we pursued Arctic Nights all around Monterey and rode the same elevator with Maya.

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