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Writers' Studio

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jrlewis's picture

Welcome...  Welcome writers.  This is a place to think about writing.  Any genre, any level of completion, and any  writing-other hybrids are welcome.  Comments on writing can happen at any time, because a good comment is worth the wait.  This is an alternative to traditional structured writing programs.  In order to participate please fill out the contact form for the group.  (Please feel free to comment on the writing of this introduction to the group.)  Hopefully everyone participating will all learn something about writing and teaching writing. 

Happy writing!

jrlewis's picture

What Transpired (X Series)

He is solid wood

Seasoned with wind and fighting

To light sodden logs

Bright is life and death is steam

Fire alarm am I. 

interloper's picture

Full Hunger Moon

Silent within, dead still about.
Prone and alone,
Awake and without.
The pump pulls water from the ground, a sound,
Three thirty resolutely rolls around.
A fear, unclear; my souvenir,
Springtide strong-arm seclusion, unbound.

interloper's picture


Give in.
Go ahead, 
Slice my soma.
Violate my 
Parotid stroma.
Just please don't let me 
Wake up in a coma.
Pleomorphic Adenoma.

interloper's picture

The Fool

Blinding, trying to read 
Between lines, it's just space unconsigned.
Minding, dying to need.

Where is the end and beginning
Between the eye and the mind?
Reading words you can't find.

Thinking, ready to bleed.
Full mind, empty space unenshrined,
Proceed, it can only be freed.

Where's the beginning and ending
Of what has been lost and defined?
Freeing, planting a seed?

Minding, dying to need.

alesnick's picture


lines and colors of menacing lullaby, a child
trapped inside a wooden sub
my brave painting --

ribbons  cuts   and    writings.
watchful eyes of a figure at the top
turn to loops, now

also small gently pillared dwellings,
mini mausolea maybe

now when the cradle starts to fall
the magnets pull it to

now somebody sings a yellow song
now a swirled one
now a baby bounces

when the wind blows
the artist breathes

-- Alice Lesnick, 2012

alesnick's picture

To Philippe Petit

Another Icarus

But this one has friends and a sweet girl
Willing to plan with him
The father is not onscreen yet
And yet, he can't be too far off:
The garden, for instance, who paid?
The dentist bill?
The girl not so much accomplice 
As companion on his way.
The thief.
-- by Alice Lesnick, 2012
alesnick's picture

Morning Radio Sonnet

Morning Radio Sonnet
by Alice Lesnick

I must be getting old.
This morning I listened with deep feeling 
To a story of research chimps held by the NIH
Now recommended for retirement to
Sanctuaries, where they would be let to forage for food,
Build nests, live in groups (of at least 7), and
Go outside when they want to. I want that these chimpanzees 
Should retire in a state of grace
Like my grandmother after she stepped down from Met Life
(Her first paying job) – a position she held for 12 years 
After my grandfather died young. 

She retired to Glen Cove to live with my cousins:
Kept house in their house,
Met them with milk and cookies after school;
Volunteered in the hospital gift shop where she got me
jewels and chocolates when I came to visit.

I would visit the research chimps and tell them:
We are sorry for your loss.

jrlewis's picture

Introduction to Icelandic

It started with a series of presents a wooden carving of an Icelandic horse, a fleece-lined sleeping bag, and a plain cloth book.  I used the pony to model for an updated photograph of myself as a ballet dancer waiting for the annual recital to begin.  I tested the sleeping bag in my car, in 16oF weather, in a strange rest stop.  But the book was a problem.  What to do with a book I can’t read?  After accepting the help of Google Translate, I found out the title, Ritsafn, and author, Olof Sigurdardottir, of my book.  I looked for a translation, none exists; there isn’t a lot of Icelandic literature translated into English, I learned.  Her book, it looks is out of print in Icelandic alas.  Interestingly, my book is a collection of poetry and fairy tales, the third and final published work of a woman farmer writer.  That her husband was a carpenter formed the basis for my poem comparing the author to myself.  My carpenter (the presenter) seemed satisfied.  I was still curious.  This is the story of how I decided to start a series of homophonic translations of my book.

jrlewis's picture

Nordic Branch (X series)

Your souvenirs:

Icelandic horse carving, fleece sleeping bag, hardback


Which left me longing for a translation that doesn’t exist;

What to do with a text I can’t read?


Old book Ritsafn, old tee-shirt soft,

The paper shines; signed by Fra Sigurdardottir a Hlodum.


She was a writer of fairy tales and poems married to a carpenter,

Ever after farmers.


We are the writer and the carpenter;

My caretaker, I shall translate into the genitive case romantic.


Book and word are English cognates of the Icelandic language,

Word list and word lust.


I learned enough Icelandic;

Now let us make like old people and read in bed!

jrlewis's picture

Bumpy Pavement Series

interloper's picture

Full Cold Moon

Sat down by the cookstove
in a dirt-old house
on a bump on the lip
of a moraine.
Wind, winter, ocean cloistered sandbar.
Shut inside by cold fat sticky rain.

Pondering the knot upon 
               my jawbone.
Sorting stuff I think 
I own. 
Mapping out a fortnight on a train.

A loan, alone, a rolling stone.
Resolve, evolve, remove, escape........remain.
                   Plenilunar overdriven brain.

ewippermann's picture

Bright Star

I want to get
older with you
read in
bed with you
every night
like tonight
we've got
time but
that bright star
looking through
our dark window
the reflection
more beautiful
than this what
happens when
the water's too
tired to clean
our human shores
the air too
thick to see
stars caught in
fall trees'
well I'll be
to your
tender breath 
I'll be more
steadfast than
that nightlight 
sleep sound to
your soft fall
and swell
dreaming of 
waking with
you of
with you. 


ewippermann's picture

Poem for Our Youth

We're old
enough to know
we're young,
this winter's snow
shining far as
we can see
which isn't far
but sure is
Nothing is
as pure as this 
and it isn't.
However we walk
soft this solstice 
through our mother's
bare forests
whiter than our
mind before dreams.  
The sky darkens
early and our
parents sleep.
I hold your
hand and
we go bravely
into that

jrlewis's picture

Thinking about Critiquing

At one time or another, every writer turns into a teenager.  They fold their arms across their chest and lean back against their chair silent.  They are sullen.  Finally, the frustrated writer exclaims, “you don’t understand me at all!” 

What is a writing teacher to do with a teenager?  This is what I would call a teachable moment.  It is the place where the writer’s technique has failed.  Their craft is insufficient to convey their intentions.  Every student writer needs to learn how to realize their intentions in their writing.  This is true from anthropology papers to poems. 

I would like to make a place for student intent within the teaching of writing. The student writer must to be able to talk about their intent and figure out what technique they should use to realize it.  Sometimes talking about intent in another form is freeing for the writer.  Changes in form and genre can be freeing.   It is essential for the teacher to experience the gap between the student’s intentions and their work.  The teacher should try to help the student bridge the gap by means of better technique.  The potential for revision is what makes teacher’s critiques different from those of literary scholars. 

jrlewis's picture

Thinking about Teaching Writing

Or Graduate School Application Responses...

The good writing teacher helps students express ideas clearly and concisely through writing in the form appropriate to their discipline.  The great writing teacher helps students develop the relationship between their thinking and their writing.  The purpose of student writing assignments is not a regurgitation of the material the teacher feed to the class.  It is to continue a conversation started in class and reading assignments.  While the teacher may initiate the conversation, it is the students’ responsibility to extend the classroom discussion with their own insights.  Students are supposed to learn about the relationship of words to ideas. 

Even in the work of the best writers, words fail a little.  Words always incompletely capture the world.  Acknowledging the limitations of language is essential to the practice of writing and interpreting.  However, the gap between intention and interpretation is where real learning occurs, for the writer and the teacher too.  As the technique of the writer improves, the gap decreases.  It is the work of the student and the teacher together to bridge that gap.  The teacher should deploy a variety of strategies to help the student realize their ideas in their writing.  Repeated revisions, experimentation with form, and face-to-face conversations are some good methods.  This story about teaching writing holds true across all disciplines. 

interloper's picture

Two thousand days and nights (Unfinished)

Final Version:

My armor weighs more than I can still carry,

A cage for my skull,

Five years empty inside. 

Circean shapeshifters sold me this


In shadows they flitter, in daylight they hide.


Effortless solstice of winter,


Turning, legs and arms twined.

Human cocoon

Of breath, skin, Elysium,

Flawless empyrean, fullness of mind.


Skating the precipice, dragging my baggage,

Punch hard,

Pierce through this carapace shell. 

With unguarded organs 

I squint through the scissure,

Unable to tell if it's heaven

Or hell.

Exoskeletal shedding takes trust,

Though I can't seem to know when it's false or it's real,

But If i touch heat then

I'll maybe be able to


and then actually, finally


ewippermann's picture


up with the wide
end of an August morning
you turned into the

warm sheet of sun
brushing your cheek --

whatever god is

I found it in your 
flushed breath when with
a close-eyed smile you

folded me into your sleep
and I fell deep in the
glow of your collarbone

a ridge of yellow 
rustling birch a susserous 
that murmured dream

in the amber below
the canopy of your hair --

god it was there.

ewippermann's picture

venedig, 1986

(Venedig, Gerhard RIchter 1986)

ewippermann's picture


Look at us hiding on the roofs!

Atop hotels and restaurants lining
the square looking at
each other's blanched faces 
looking at
the street

souped crowds 
rickshaws and bikes
bellowing through the smoking
trash that I 
feel is all our fault

and the cows, just
eating it

beside the hawkers' 

       a woman
in yellow, a glimmer
hair so neatly
is weaving in
the thick
and out
and out
finding no
one's eye 

not mine
on the roof



interloper's picture


Last time we talked,
Your two year old twins,
Your cramped condominium,
Your nonprofit job insecurity,
You found a guy with my name,
My face, my job, your husband, he was away,
Far away, away in the desert at burning man.
You cried and you used the L word twice.
You missed me still and I felt the same.
Fifteen years and I still felt the same,
And you were still the same and
If I had said the word, Come,
You would have, I know,
But I wouldn't
And I didn't.
I didn't.