Articles by Nick Ripatrazone

July 18, 2014

The Saddest Poem Ever Written 12

Novels have hurt me. Stories have punctured my skeptical skin. Essays have made me rethink the world. But a melancholic poem shatters me.

June 30, 2014

Mystery and Manners: On Teaching Flannery O’Connor 5

The sheer originality of Flannery O’Connor’s stories shows students how amplifying their surrounding world can make great fiction. Now, 50 years after her death, when she is a staple of syllabi and the very canon that previously excluded her and other women, it is most important to stress fresh approaches to her work within the classroom.

May 27, 2014

55 Thoughts for English Teachers 23

You need to love words. You don’t need to love a certain type of book or a particular writer, but you need to love letters and phrases and the possibilities of language. You will spend most of your days dealing with words, and students can sense if words do not bring you joy.

May 14, 2014

Reach the Rafters: On Literary Sentiment 5

If sentimentality is a sin, it is only because feeling can be so beautiful. One moment of sentiment in literature is worth a thousand failures.

April 22, 2014

Sacrament of Fiction: On Becoming a Writer and Not a Priest 7

Good fiction can be a form of good works. As a Catholic, I recognize that life is a story of continuous revision, of failure and unexpected grace, and of dogged hope. I am comfortable with the white space of ambiguity and mystery. I have faith, not certainty.

April 3, 2014

Liner Notes: A Poetry Playlist 4

Poetry and music share a word of process — composition — and are linked by negotiations of melody, harmony, rhythm, proportion, and discord. Here is a poetry playlist: 10 poets offer their composition soundtracks.

March 25, 2014

No Right Path: Arriving at Writing from Outside the Humanities 6

Fear and wonder pulled me toward both astronomy and writing. If the world does not create awe in us, we will neuter the beautiful and complex. The profound becomes prosaic.

March 3, 2014

Free Rides: Writing and Reading on Trains 1

I hope Amtrak develops these introductory residencies into a full program, and that these writers are inspired to create new work, breathe life into old drafts, and maybe even enjoy some good reading.

February 25, 2014

Miss You, SASE: On Postal Submissions 8

The great, unlikely gift of postal submissions was the building of patience and discipline. Now we can publish at any and every moment.

February 5, 2014

The Fictional Lives of High School Teachers 8

In America, teachers are either seen as angelic or caustic, saviors or sycophants. These stereotypes enable politicians to convince the public to support the latest education fad or slash needed budgets. The reality is we teach because we love to help kids, and we think literature is a way to examine and understand our complex lives.