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Newest Brief Essays

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

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

Essays

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)

Essays

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Kenyon Review PODCAST with Rebecca

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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

Teaching a Nephew to Type


Because you lag already
years behind the computer-and-
otherwise-literate boys with fathers,
and your handwriting is a tangle
the teachers have grown weary
of unraveling, and because you are as close
to a son as I can manage, though nothing
about you is manageable anymore,

I am teaching you to type. The trick
is to look anywhere but down. 
Your fingers are dumb birds pecking,
just follow the chart I’ve made.
We’ll begin in the thick of things,
the home row to which we’ll always
return. Little finger on a.  Then tap
your way next door to s.  Now

you’ve made as.   Don’t think, I say. 
Just watch the chart:   dad   sad   fad
a flash   a flask   a lad had.   Tomorrow
we’ll move on to reach and return
and the period key, but for now
just use the comma, it’s like catching
a breath, or you can type a colon,
double dot, old snake eyes, luck
in your future, meaning watch this space
something is about to follow.


• First published in Poetry
From Deep Light: New and Selected Poems
Teaching a Nephew to Type
Garrison Keillor reads this poem

More Family Poems

Also...

  • Aunt, an essay from The Riddle Song and Other Rememberings