Essay appears in The MacGuffin

I’m belatedly reporting here that my essay, “To Suckle on Fear,” appeared in the Spring 2017 issue of The MacGuffin, a great journal out of Schoolcraft College in Livonia, Michigan. This piece is what is known as a hermit crab essay – an essay that takes the form of some other type of (usually) recognizable document. This one is in the form of a police report because it involves my getting brought home in a police car as a 7-year-old for some relatively minor matter. At the heart of the story, though, and this is what the essay explores, were my assumptions about race, and I apparently had many, as a little kid living in a fearful, toxic culture.

I’m grateful to the folks at The MacGuffin: Editor Steven A. Dolgin and especially Managing Editor Gordon Krupsky for shepherding this through to publication. Thank you!

The piece is not online, but I am trying to find an online home for it. If all else fails, I’ll post it here.


New essay “Last Chance” online at Tributaries

Hey, I just got done digging my car out of the ice/snow and almost forgot that today was the day that a flash essay was going live! It’s called “Last Chance,” and it’s at Tributaries, which is an online section of the journal The Fourth River. Now, The Fourth River is a “journal of nature and place-based writing, published by Chatham University’s MFA in Creative Writing Program. Chatham University is in Pittsburgh, folks. And I am very grateful that they gave these few moments in time a home there; special thanks to Editor-in-Chief and Nonfiction Editor Sheila Squillante. I also want to give a shout-out to Denton Loving, a writer I met at Bennington, who compiles and puts out a very helpful call for submissions from literary journals. That’s how I heard about Tributaries in the first place. Thank you, Denton!

“Last Chance” is a quick read, but I hope you’ll check it out and savor it all the same. Thanks for your continued support!



Legendary Locals now available at ArtFusion 19464

It’s that time of year when we think of home and childhood and twinkling lights on the Christmas tree. For those family and friends who may have moved away from Pottstown, but might like to take a trip down memory lane, please consider buying them a copy of Legendary Locals of Pottstown (by yours truly and photographer Ed Berger) this holiday season. It summarizes the town’s history while featuring the people who founded and built the town and keep its businesses and institutions running to this very day. ArtFusion 19464 also carries a wide-ranging and eclectic array of gifts in all price ranges – ornaments, jewelry, art, ceramics and interesting up-cycled works. They are located at 254 E. High Street in the heart of Pottstown. Thanks for your support!

“The Gun Show” in The Southeast Review

I’m really happy to have an essay in the current issue of The Southeast Review (Vol. 34.2), among the work of many fine poets, artists, and writers of fiction and nonfiction. The Southeast Review is a literary journal run by the graduate students and a faculty advisor in the English Department at Florida State University. My essay, “The Gun Show,” tells about my first trip to a gun show in King of Prussia, PA back in 2003, against the backdrop of a shooting accident from my childhood, in which my dad, a gunsmith, unintentionally shot our neighbor, who subsequently died. This is part of a larger project – a full-length memoir – about my relationship with my dad, the guns always there. Always.

This journal only puts a few selected pieces online after the next issue comes out, so the only way you would be able to read this essay for the foreseeable future would be to buy the journal here. Thanks for your continued support as I work to get this story out :-).



“Detours” named Notable Essay in Best American Essays 2016!

I’m so honored and excited to announce that my essay, “Detours,” which appeared in the Spring 2015 issue of Literal Latte has been included as a Notable Essay in The Best American Essays 2016, edited by Jonathan Franzen, and released this week.

This series, which has been running for 30 years, features roughly 25 essays that are reprinted in full from the publications in which they appeared in the prior year. Then, in the back of the volume are a few hundred “Notables,” which are listed alphabetically by author name, title, and the journal in which they appeared. That’s where I am, and happy and proud to be there! I’m in good company. Others in the back of the book include Claudia Rankine, Lia Purpura, Dinty Moore, Marilyn Robinson, Chris Offutt, and Phillip Lopate, one of my mentors at Bennington, as well as many other amazing writers and thinkers. As a writer who has not published a literary book yet, every bit of validation, whether through acceptance by a publication or an unexpected honor like this, gives me the courage to press on, exploring themes and issues that bubble up, struggling to get my thoughts down just right, then putting them out into the world, and bracing for the rejections that inevitably follow before, perhaps, an acceptance. Thanks to Literal Latte for giving “Detours” a home in New York City’s literary landscape and to Robert Atwan for its inclusion as a “Notable.”

If you want to check out “Detours,” please click through.


“Gun-Sitting” up at Hippocampus Magazine

I’m thrilled to report that a new essay of mine, “Gun-Sitting,” is up at Hippocampus Magazine, a really wonderful nonfiction journal based in Lancaster, Pennsylvania and featuring writing from around the world. I offer my heartfelt thanks to founder and publisher, Donna Talarico, for getting this story out into the world. It is the first published piece related to my memoir-in-progress about a shooting accident from my childhood. I’ve been working on this story for years, and while it’s a huge relief to finally be sharing it with readers, it’s also more than a little scary to be revealing the particulars of a traumatic experience and its aftereffects, which have trailed me and others around for the better part of our lives. I hope you find this story worth reading and discussing.

I do want to note that the names of the students and the victim have been changed here to protect their privacy.




Reading at The Word Barn

This post does not bring “new” news, but I wanted to document this wonderful event here….

On November 15, 2015 I had the pleasure of reading an excerpt from my memoir to a packed house at The Word Barn in Exeter, New Hampshire. Also reading that afternoon was Peter Anderson, this year’s George Bennett Fellow at Phillips Exeter Academy. It was such a treat to read alongside Peter in this space that has been created by poet, teaching colleague, and friend, Sarah Anderson. Through The Silo Series at The Word Barn, Sarah brings together readers and writers who are passionate about the power of literature in our lives.

To learn more about The Word Barn and the reading, check out this article: A Word Barn Raising.

The piece I read, “The Gun Show,” has been accepted by The Southeast Review and will be out this spring in their next print issue. I am very grateful this piece has found a home at SER.

Essay up at The Common Online!

H. Ballard Harris (Sue Repko/2002)
H. Ballard Harris (Sue Repko/2002)

I am thrilled to report that my essay, “The Bodhisattva of Route 128” is now up at The Common Online. This essay was many years in the making, recalling my meeting H. Ballard Harris, a legendary figure who lived his life north of Moab, Utah, dispensing wisdom and small talk to travelers from his gas station and gift shop on scenic Route 128. I am very grateful to The Common and, especially, to Diana Babineau, Managing Editor, for her suggestions and support to bring this to publication. Further thanks to Liz Witte, Associate Editor, and Jen Acker, Editor In Chief, for giving this essay a home at The Common. Namaste.

Summer Reading

I got off to a pretty fast start, reading Their Eyes Were Watching God (Zora Neale Hurston) and “Master Harold… and the boys (Athol Fugard) and re-reading A Separate Peace (John Knowles) by the end of June. Then I got stuck. With the move to Maine, there were days — long days — spent packing boxes and hustling up and down steps and in and out of closets and storage areas, and then the beginning of The Great Unpacking, which continues to the present day.

I have been struggling to get through Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld for at least a year, ever since borrowing it from my friend Suzanne. I spent the past two years teaching and living at The Hill School in Pottstown, and it seemed like a book I should read, especially as I myself was experiencing life at a boarding school for the first time. But it never really grabbed me – maybe because what I needed was an escape from boarding school stories at the time? In any event, I picked it up again a few days ago and I am now making some headway; perhaps I needed some distance from the life itself.

I am especially looking forward to reading So We Read On: How The Great Gatsby Came To Be and Why It Endures  by Maureen Corrigan. This has become one of my favorite books to teach; so much to talk about! I am going to start digging into my office and book boxes to try and locate it right now…

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