Newest Brief Essays

"Women's Hour, YMCA" featured in Kenyon Review Online

"I Second That Emotion" (craft essay) featured in New Ohio Review


Other Brief Essays

"Advanced Directive to My Future Roommate…"

"Things Gone the Way of Time," recently reprinted in Brief Encounters: A Collection of Contemporary Nonfiction (Norton)


Study with Rebecca this summer

Kenyon Review Writers Workshop, June 18-25


Kenyon Review PODCAST with Rebecca

(on memoir, genre-crossing, writing practice, and more)


Word Painting Revised Edition: The Fine Art of Writing Descriptively

New edition includes over 100 writing exercises for all genres.

Word Painting

The Tribal Knot

Rebecca'a newest nonfiction book, The Tribal Knot: A Memoir of Family, Community, and a Century of Change is now available from Indiana University Press and Amazon.

Tribal Knot

Mother Tongue

Mother Tongue
Rebecca’s first book of poems ranges far and wide: fairy tales and nightmare images, Marvin Gaye, Marine Corps brats and blind students and “full service” gas station attendants.

Published by University Presses of Florida
0-8130-08581-1 (hardback)

Sample Poem


Like kisses these petals
you place in my lap,
torn sweet from the
branch, tender.

And as my grandmother
lives on in the mirror
of certain blue plates,
so this moment.

Say my name
and a child is born
in a flood of amen.

Touch me
and vapor rises,
healing the air
around us.

Our father laugh
with open mouths
and for once do not
count the change.

Here our mothers
are young again,
their backs straight
and lovely in the light,

their waists only a sash
of blue, like river
or something a shy man
once painted in a dream.

Mother Tongue Reviewers' Comments

"Her poetry seems crafted from butterfly wings and bits of old nighties, but beneath the shimmering vulnerability there is sterner stuff: the accidental murder of children, loneliness and longing for children never borne, nightmares, desire." -- Charleen Swansea, Red Clay Books

"The energy of this poet, the determination, snaps and crackles like a lion tamer's whip. Expect to be surprised, moved and changed." -- Arts Journal

"Out of the small and ordinary these poems make things new and mysterious, immeasurable and simply wonderful." -- George Garrett

Sample Poem

Dream Catcher

I show you pictures
taken in my dark:
A churchkey opening the
baby’s soft spot. A
young girl dragging
a bookbag heavy with
her mother’s heart,
warm still, beating.

Shake out those dreams,
you tell me, climb
the ordinary stairs
to morning. I lie still,
careful not to rustle my gown,
loosening shadows caught
in the folds, careful
not to forget too soon
how close to the surface
the child in me pumps
or how I carry my mother,

Sample Poem

The Other Woman

In dreams I always love her.
We sit shaded
beneath big hats,
sipping mint tea, laughing.
I admire the flame
of her hair, the delicate
freckled wrist.

We ask small questions:
Did he always fold his towel
just so, over the banister?
Do Wednesdays still
knit his brow?
Her pale stockings
rub together.
Her voice, torn lace.

Across our faces
sun weaves
a lattice of
shadow and light.
We sit shaded
beneath big hats,
asking small questions,