Seasons, Books & Writing


I just returned from co-hosting our first Writers’ Workshop, with author-editor, Suzanne Kingsbury, at my family’s summer home in Matunuck, Rhode Island. It was a magical time, with nine women, all eager to write, to share, to explore. When I called my mother, Shirley, to tell her how amazing and intense the salon writing sessions and readings afterwards were, she said, “They open like clams!” Very true! . . . opening, and sharing, digging deeper. . . During our long weekend, it felt almost like a literary book club at times.

I decided on the last day, to write down some book names for readings on the craft of writing, and some of my favorite books, etc. This blog post section can be for book titles and authors; maybe with a brief summary of each (not to get too academic here!)…. And I’d love it if people could comment with some of their favorites. Suzanne Kingsbury, our intrepid workshop leader, fearless writer, loving person, who shares her deep spiritual nature with those willing and able to receive it, had a number of great craft books on writing that she shared with us, so I am hoping she will either comment, or email me the list for a future post.

Here is a section of poem that I have always loved….on a walk through the estuaries of the Trustom Pond Wildlife Nature Preserve with Cardy Raper, one of our participants, and the elder of our group (Cardy is working on a novel, called Tobacco Tales, and her book A Woman of Science: Adventures in Love, Sex, and Mushrooms, is coming out in 2013).

The poem just came to me (I also recall a brilliant lecture by Robert Pack at Middlebury College), but I could not remember all the lines, or the author’s name (I was a lit major after all!). I thought I saw a kingfisher along the river bank walking the road into Moonstone Beach — see the photo of me and Cardy (she is holding rocks collected) at the spot with a view of the sanctuary behind us. It was so beautiful there with the fall colors and the dark clouds….

The poem that I recalled the fist line of is actually by Gerard Manley Hopkins (I thought it was Wm. Carlos Williams), and I will paste my favorite section here…Hopkins was a Jesuit, who taught James Joyce I just found out! He was never published in his lifetime, but his friend toiled to get the work published after his death.

As Kingfishers Catch Fire
by Gerard Manley Hopkins

As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies, dráw fláme ;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring ; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell’s
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name ;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same :
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells ;
Selves—goes itself ; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying Whát I do is me : for that I came.


Other books (people can write in their names next to the books so we can see who suggested them–I am hoping Suzanne can write some as she is an avid reader also and can be in my virtual book group–!:

Dede’s Random Book List

  • In the Time of the Butterflies, by Julia Alverez (one of my favorites…set in the Dominican Republic).
  • Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder (set in Haiti and a great read about a doctor who singlehandedly tries to make a difference)
  • The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman (cultural/medical anthropology set in post-Vietnam war California about a Hmong family with a daughter who has epilepsy)
  • Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv (first book to bring together a new and growing body of research indicating that direct exposure to nature is essential for development)
  • Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson (written by a climber, traces Mortenson’s decade-long odyssey to build schools, especially for girls, though more recently Mortenson has financial woes)
  • Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts (the story of a man’s redemption, found in the most unlikely of place, and one he never imagined, upon a riverbank in a rural Indian village)
  • The Road by Cormac McCarthy (this book is not for the feint of heart…disturbing and beautifully written)
  • Russian literature — basically all (C&P, Anna Karenina, W&P, etc.)
  • Beloved by Toni Morrison
  • A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Eggers
  • The beat poets—Kerouac’s On the Road
  • The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
  • The Soloist by journalist Steve Lopez
  • Reading the Mountains of Home by John Elder (Vermont cultural anthroplogy, geology/history)
  • The Ecology of a Cracker Childhood by Janisse Ray (longleaf pine ecosystem)
  • A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold
  • The Last American Man by Elizabeth Gilbert (about the somewhat ‘eccentric’ Eustace Conway)
  • Under the Banner of Heaven by John Krakauer (this is supposed to be amazing…)
  • The Prodigal Daughter by Barbara Kingsolver (lots of info on moths)
  • Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard
  • The Solace of Open Spaces and A Match to the Heart by Gretel Erlich
  • ANYTHING by Wallace Stegner is great, but my favorite is Crossing to Safety
  • The Prelude by William Wordsworth
  • Field Work by Seamus Heaney
  • Poets on the Peaks

Más venir . . .

Suzanne’s  Book List for Critical Reading on the Craft of Writing . . . 

What a completely inspiring, magical, incredible weekend we all had.  The alchemy between us was so perfect.  I read from the following books:

Brenda Ueland’s book: If You Want to Write

Zen and the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury

Cries of the Spirit, an anthology of women’s writing

and others were on the table including

The Writer’s Block prompts, of course

Writing Down the Bones, by Natalie Goldberg

Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird should have been there, but I think it was NOT,

I also love Sol Stein’s book on the novel, and last but not least

John Gardener’s books on writing and many many others that I will think of in the days to come.








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