Free Writer Events in Philadelphia – March 2018

#CCP #writing #Philadelphia   #VietDinh
Writer friends! CCP peeps! Community College of Philadelphia has several cool workshops and readings open to the public this week, and I especially recommend
Viet Đinh‘s event on his Penn/Faulkner Award-finalist novel, After Disasters. (Full sched. with times and locations at
Dinh teaches at the University of Delaware. AFTER DISASTERS is an aMAZingly well researched novel about international and domestic relief workers struggling to provide aid after a disastrous 2001 earthquake in the Indian city of Bhuj. Dinh weaves together the stories of several intriguing characters–Dev, a married Indian doctor who works with HIV patients; Piotr, a disaster relief logistics expert facing burnout; Andy, a UK fire rescue worker on his first international assignment; and much more! It’s rare to find a novel with such rich characterization and an exacting eye for the logistics of the global world. My students and I are learning a great about how international relief works as well as the competing philosophies behind providing aid. We’re learning too the painful ironies and human failings that sometimes arise amid best intentions.
Dinh will also discuss his story “Substitutes” in a later session. This story won an O’Henry Prize and centers on Vietnamese schoolchildren left in the lurch during the fall of Saigon. Its use of first-person plural is a masterful example of a rarely used point of view.
All this, and he’s a snappy dresser to boot. Come if you can!
You can read the review of After Disasters at the LA Review of Books here.

New Kestrel Poetry Publication: “Scrape the Velvet from Your Antlers”


I received two copies last week of the latest issue from the fine folks at Kestrel literary journal. They published my poem, “Scrape the Velvet from Your Antlers”, in their new issue, #30/Spring2013. It’s a longish poem, and I’m happy it found a home in that WV journal since that is where the poem is set: the hill upon which my grandfather’s house set out at Kerens, WV. A big thanks to the editors and staff of Kestrel for publishing this poem, which is part of a manuscript I’m readying this summer. Here are a few lines from the opening:

Scrape the Velvet from Your Antlers

As you take the hill, the hill takes you–
raking you and your siblings into
a grassy sway of beetles and spiders moving,
and the day’s hot ricochet of blue bottle flies
and bees gone crazy in their looping.
Your brother and sister run to catch the horizon.
You wade slowly through the lashing,
alive with combustion, eager for bursting…

Find out more about Kestrel, including how to order copies or subscribe on FB or by Googling their main page.


Birds in Stormy Skies

Ric McCauley, my childhood friend from West Virginia, is a painter. In his new beach house, one of the first things he did was take down the old owner’s art (he and his partner bought the house fully furnished) and hung recent work of his own. Here is one of his paintings from a series on birds. I quite like Ric’s keen design sense and the scrubbed textures he manages to pull out of the acrylic washes he uses.

Penn State Arboretum

20120813-131726.jpgA trip to Penn State to visit family over the weekend necessitated a trip to the new Arboretum. It’s beautiful, in a large field near the law school. Perhaps the water lily garden was the highlight, with its pink and pale yellow flowers. We enjoyed the fountain too, as well as a shady nook over-planted with a canopy of pear-shaped gourds. A serenity pavilion overlooks Happy Valley in the distance, with a massive oak well-framed by the view. It’s worth a visit next time you are in the area. The project is only half-finished, with more gardens to come. There promises to be more each time you go.