Month: May 2014

If war poetry can be beautiful, then Kevin Powers is your poet. Here’s a short poem for Memorial Day.

There are so many war stories and so few that make us stop and think what war actually is.

I recently heard writer Kevin Powers on NPR’s To The Best of Our Knowledge. Powers spent 2 years in Iraq as a machine gunner, and recently published a book of poetry about his experiences. It’s elegant, casual, jarring poetry that makes you stop what you’re doing and be quiet. I’ve posted his title poem below. When I read this poem (and his others, which are also fantastic) I realize:

Death is not the most shocking thing about war; it is often the life that comes after.

For Memorial Day.


Find more of his poetry here. Or here. Or just buy the damn book already.

A few downtempo songs to listen to while writing

My partner calls this “coding” music. He’s a software engineer. To me, it’s “writing” music. You say tomato.

If you have any to add… I’m listening.


In photographs: An eerie glimpse of urban life… right before mobile phones

I came across these photos today in PAPER magazine: images of New York City, taken by Gregoire Alessandrini in the 1990s. (Alessandrini was, according to his website, “a film student and a young writer/photographer in the 1990s.”)

Christopher Street. All photo credits: Gregoire Alessandrini.

I remember New York during these days. I grew up 3 hours from the city, and visited with my mother who lived there in the 80s with my dad, while she attended the Fashion Institute of Technology and he the Culinary Institute of America. My mother knew the city well, and I’d tag along on trips while she picked up fabric or whatever (I was a pre-teen, so everything she did was boring).

I still visit New York sometimes when I’m on the East Coast, and I’ve noticed a big change during the time gap: Manhattan now feels like one single flashing television screen, blasting things into my face. The place offends me.

These images remind me of a quieter time in that city. But why do I feel like it was quieter?

Unknown location; some people might remember these gas prices.

Because while I loved looking through these photos, something struck me.

Lafayette Street.

Location unknown; New Yorkers stand on street corner.

Nobody is holding mobile phones. No faces are obscured by people holding up iPhones to take photos or videos.

In fact, people are actually reading papers. Real ones.

East Village.

Location unknown.

Not even just phones – our experiences of, and the ways that we encountered music, were so different. Because the iPod wasn’t invented until 2001. In the 90s, New Yorkers walked down the street to the sound of the city and their own thoughts in their heads. (Unless they had a Walkman.)

Location unknown.

As I scrolled through the images, I wondered about how the people passing through them entertained themselves without a squawking Bluetooth or streaming podcast to do it for them.

Location unknown. But does it matter where it was taken? How many of these same people would be holding phones if this photo were re-staged and re-taken now?

The world has changed a lot in just a few years, folks. It’s a little eerie to look back. And I’m turning off my computer now and opening a real book. I’ll probably have to dust off the cover.

Before you do the same, visit Alessandrini’s original archive. It’s a journey – make sure to get all six parts.

Gorgeous illustrations of ‘untranslatable’ words from different languages (link)

see entire post on DesignTAXI. My favorite:

I’ve needed a word for this for a long time.


How the best ideas and creatives are grown

How ideas, and creatives, are grown

I believe this is a Robbie Porter illustration. Correct me if I’m wrong. Click through for the link.

Every writer’s life story, in one image

I imagine this is what books do when we aren’t looking. This is “Literature” by James Koehnline.

Spray cans gone wild

Spray cans gone wild

via CANLOVE. Click image for more.