Some Writers Don't Keep Journals–

–and for good reason. Below are actual excerpts from the fifth-grade diary of a writer who, for the purposes of this blog, shall remain nameless. No animals were harmed in the transcription of these entries, and, despite the fact that the writer really, really wanted to revise many of them, not a single word has been changed.

May 13

Today I had my piano lesson. Everyone says I do beautifully. I think I do terribly.

May 14

Tomorrow is my New York trip. I can’t wait. I’m so excited about it.

May 15

It was one of the most marvelous days of my whole life. It was just great.

May 16

Today was my boring Dress Revue.

May 17

Today we had Mr. Tibbetts and his wife up for dinner. The dessert was dreamy.

May 18

Next Monday we are going to change seating arrangements. I hope I get with you know who.

May 21

Today I had my piano lesson. I played baseball + made 2 runs.

May 22

We had gym today. I asked Mr. Roberts about my spelling prize and all he said was, “Moving Up Day.” I can’t wait.

May 23

We went to Granny’s as usual. We had clam chowder. The way Granny makes it it’s delicious! Yum!

May 24

I got into a group with ____!!! YAY!!!!!!!!

May 26

_____ hated our group so he moved out. I almost cried.

May 27

Today I had my piano lesson. Our school is holding a track meet.

May 28

Today is the end of Religious Ed. I didn’t even go to it anyways.

May 31

In 4.H. I am making a wastebasket. It’s real pretty. (I guess.)

June 4

Today was our track meet. Holland Patent won again. !!!!YIPPEE!!!!

June 5

I bought a $.50 milk chocolate candy bar. I love candy. I might get fat.

June 9

Wednesday! To me Wednesday sounds like it’s all blue! That probably sounds weird!



Poem of the Week, by Gerard Manley Hopkins

Spring and Fall: to a Young Child
– Gerard Manley Hopkins

Margaret, are you grieving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leaves, like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! as the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you will weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sorrow’s springs are the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It is the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.

For more information on Gerard Manley Hopkins, please click here:


Poem of the Week, by Ece Temelkuran

– Ece Temelkuran (translated from the Turkish by Deniz Perin)

Truthfully, I ruminated when I came down from the tree.

Had sorrow made me say all these things?

Had someone been with me, they would say at once

that I was ‘deeply wounded.’

I would like to show them

the squirrel that flickers in and out of sight, small as a crumb

but still able to animate the dark forest.

Her soul is surely the picture

of this tranquil elation that quivers and rests inside me.

The squirrel was drawing my path toward the forest.

For more information on Ece Temelkuran, please click here.


Poem of the Week, by Tony Hoagland

The Word
– Tony Hoagland

Down near the bottom
of the crossed-out list
of things you have to do today,

between “green thread”
and “broccoli” you find
that you have penciled “sunlight.”

Resting on the page, the word
is as beautiful, it touches you
as if you had a friend

and sunlight were a present
he had sent you from some place distant
as this morning—to cheer you up,

and to remind you that,
among your duties, pleasure
is a thing,

that also needs accomplishing
Do you remember?
that time and light are kinds

of love, and love
is no less practical
than a coffee grinder

or a safe spare tire?
Tomorrow you may be utterly
without a clue

but today you get a telegram,
from the heart in exile
proclaiming that the kingdom

still exists,
the king and queen alive,
still speaking to their children,

—to any one among them
who can find the time,
to sit out in the sun and listen.

For more information about Tony Hoagland, please click here:

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Manuscript Critique Service:

Poem of the Week, by Taha Muhammad Ali

Meeting at an Airport
– Taha Muhammad Ali

You asked me once,
on our way back
from the midmorning
trip to the spring:
“What do you hate,
and who do you love?”

And I answered,
from behind the eyelashes
of my surprise,
my blood rushing
like the shadow
cast by a cloud of starlings:
“I hate departure…
I love the spring
and the path to the spring,
and I worship the middle
hours of morning.”
And you laughed…
and the almond tree blossomed
and the thicket grew loud with nightingales.

…A question
now four decades old:
I salute that question’s answer;
and an answer,
as old as your departure;
I salute that answer’s question…

…And today,
it’s preposterous,
here we are at a friendly airport
by the slimmest of chances,
and we meet.
Ah, Lord!
we meet.
And here you are
it’s absolutely preposterous—
I recognized you
but you didn’t recognize me.
“Is it you?!”
But you wouldn’t believe it.
And suddenly
you burst out and asked:
“If you’re really you,
What do you hate
and who do you love?!”

And I answered—
my blood
fleeing the hall,
rushing in me
like the shadow
cast by a cloud of starlings:
“I hate departure,
and I love the spring,
and the path to the spring,
and I worship the middle
hours of morning.”

And you wept,
and flowers bowed their heads,
and doves in the silk of their sorrow stumbled.

For more information on Taha Muhammad Ali, please click here:


The story behind the picture book

She was tall, especially when you were a child. She was a big woman of girth and substance, with heavy legs of which she was ashamed all her long life. In her closet hung a neat row of size 22 flowered polyester dresses. Below them, a row of size 12 lace-up shoes.

It took her twenty minutes to roll on her orange support hose, but you never once saw her wear pants. She smelled of talcum powder and a perfume the name of which you can’t recall. She had her hair done once a week at the beauty parlor, soft blue-ish white waves.

She did not drink, ever, but you remember twice at weddings she took a sip of champagne. Each time her button nose turned bright red and she hid her face in her hands and laughed.

You have written about her before. You always want to write about her. You have to stop yourself from writing about her more than you do, and also from talking about her more than you already do. Look at you, a full-grown woman of middle age, still talking about your grandmother?

But there you have it. She was one of the great loves of your life. You still miss her. You still talk to her. Out loud, sometimes. You say things like, “What do you think I should do, Christine?” and then you picture her and wait for her to answer.

Usually she just shakes her head in that way she had, and laughs the way she did.

“Oh, I don’t know, Alison.”

And then she reaches out and touches your arm and keeps looking at you, smiling, until you smile back at her. She knows that you’ll be all right.

In her presence you always were all right.There was nothing you couldn’t, or didn’t, tell her. You told her things you’d done, heartbreaking things, and she would furrow her brow and tilt her head and nod. And reach out and touch your arm. And ask you questions, but only so that you could keep talking if you needed to.

And she would say how sorry she was that you had to go through that. That she knew you had done the only thing you could. That she herself just didn’t see any other way around it.

In her presence you relaxed. You let down. Things inside you gave way. You didn’t have to try so hard, around her. You didn’t have to try at all.

She is the story behind Making a Friend, that new picture book over there, the one with the pretty blue cover of the little boy and the snowman.

That little boy makes a snowman one day. He gives him arms and eyes and a nose and a mouth. He gives him his red hat, to keep him warm.

You were thinking about your grandmother the day you wrote down the first few words of that story in a notebook. You were thinking how lucky you were that she lived so long, that you were in your 30’s before you lost her.

Did you, though? Lose her?

When you really need her, you sit still and close your eyes. You picture her. There she is, sitting at the dining room table, head supported by one arm. She’s wearing a blue bathrobe. She’s smiling and shaking her head.

You sit there and wait until you feel her next to you. That if you open your eyes, right now, there she’ll be.

You open your eyes and they rest on the needlepoint cushion she made, the one with her initials –CM– in the corner.

You open your eyes and see a squirrel –her nickname– poised on the pine branch outside your window.

You go to the store and see that her favorite ice cream –butter pecan– is on sale.

That these are all ordinary things, things that happen on any ordinary day, means only that she is with you. It doesn’t take anything special to conjure her. She is like electricity, invisible and everywhere.

A few years ago you were in a drugstore when you smelled her, that particular kind of talcum-y perfume she used to wear. You followed your nose from aisle to aisle, searching her out, until you stood directly behind an old lady wearing a dark blue coat. She turned to look at you inquiringly.

What could you possibly say, other than that you liked her perfume?

You said nothing. You lifted your shoulders and shook your head helplessly. You smiled at her. You wanted to thank her for bringing your grandmother back to you, there in the paper goods aisle.

The little boy talks to his snowman every day of a long winter, until all that is left is his own red hat. Snowman, where did you go?

“What you love will always be with you.”

Poem of the Week, by Mary Szybist

Girls Overheard While Assembling a Puzzle
– Mary Szybist

Are you sure this blue is the same as the
blue over there? This wall’s like the
bottom of a pool, its
color I mean. I need a
darker two-piece this summer, the kind with
elastic at the waist so it actually
fits. I can’t
find her hands. Where does this gold
go? It’s like the angel’s giving
her a little piece of honeycomb to eat.
I don’t see why God doesn’t
just come down and
kiss her himself. This is the red of that
lipstick we saw at the
mall. This piece of her
neck could fit into the light part
of the sky. I think this is a
piece of water. What kind of
queen? You mean
right here? And are we supposed to believe
she can suddenly
talk angel? Who thought this stuff
up? I wish I had a
velvet bikini. That flower’s the color of the
veins in my grandmother’s hands. I
wish we could
walk into that garden and pick an
X-ray to float on.
Yeah. I do too. I’d say a
zillion yeses to anyone for that.

For more information on Mary Szybist, please click here: