Copyright 2013 Pacific Northwest Writers Association. All Rights Reserved
Shut Up, I’m Sorry, I Love You
The salvation of man is through love and in love.
~ Viktor Frankl
Recently, in the middle of a heated disagreement with me, my son yelled “Shut up!” – then immediately added, “I’m sorry, I love you.” I found the quick succession of phrases funny and was impressed with how efficiently he traveled the emotional spectrum. He was also genuine – not just offering rote politeness. After his initial reaction, he remembered that at the core of our relationship is love – and he chose to return to it.
Shut up is one of the ways we try to exert control over things. It’s a mild stab at dictatorship – as in, “All right then, I’ll just SILENCE you!” Labeling and name-calling serve a similar purpose. When frustration peaks, and we’re feeling misunderstood and the other person seems glaringly wrong, we might attempt to shut the whole thing down. But, in actuality, it doesn’t work. Even if we manage to dominate in the moment, the argument continues within us – and perhaps with others on other days.
I’ve had occasional shut ups in my life (some overt, some veiled) and I’m sorrys, and I’m always striving to get back to love, though it’s often not the smoothest course. I’ve thrown my share of fits; I’ve certainly tried to dominate with my opinion. But the aftertaste is always that of pathetic ruler, unwilling to allow and hear others fully. I might have won the crown for a moment, but the benefit of the relationship was simultaneously lost to me. more...
by Cherie Tucker
In today’s paper, a quote ended with:
“Therefore, we’ve fallen flat on our face.”
When a sentence like that came up in one of my classes, someone asked if it shouldn’t be “flat on our faces.” The conversation then continued like this:
“How many faces do they have?”
“Maybe they shared one.”
“So do people shake their heads or their head?”
"Does whoever they are have more than one head then, or do they own that head jointly?”
“It could be read either way.”
“Yeah, but what’s right?”
We argued like this for some time, looking everywhere in The Gregg Reference Manual, our textbook, for the answer, to no avail.· Then someone said, “Call Bill.” more...
Not a Poem, Not a Story
by Jackie Sizemore
If I am being honest, I wasn’t even sure I knew what a lyric essay was. To me, it looked like an essay open to emotional tangents with a loose interpretation of sentence structure. The lyric essays I stumbled upon in online literary journals seemed to borrow from poetry, following rhythm and aiming for a feeling rather than a clear narrative. Confusion seemed okay, if resolved or brief. None of the lyric essays I read resembled anything close to my carefully plotted, dark humor fiction, or my structured, traditional personal essays.
The lyric essay seemed to come with a big red, “Do not touch” button throughout my MFA thesis year. I’d spent my first two years immersed in the fiction program, eagerly soaking up any advice I could get to ensure the completion of my thesis project. My attempts at building a writing life pre-MFA had been filled with self-doubt and a desire to perfect every sentence before I sent a piece out into the publishing world. Several people in my MFA community warned that the newness of a blank page, with a dash of inspiration, could easily lead me onto a Hansel and Gretel breadcrumb trail through the woods and far from my thesis. I listened, and I pursued no other projects.
After three years of studying narrative, structure, and scenes, the idea of not only switching gears, but of tackling a new genre scared me. Was trying something new a sign that I wasn’t that serious about my fiction work? Or worse, that when deciding whether to apply to poetry or fiction MFAs, I’d made a mistake in abandoning my poetic pursuits? The more I thought about why I wanted to write a lyric essay, the bigger the task became. more...