Beginnings, Middles and Middles

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I’ve been thinking lately about how the daily routines of family life both reflect and shape our understanding of dramatic structure.


We rise early in the morning, slowly move into a range of activities until some small inciting incident spurs the day forward and from there on out things progress until the climax of dessert dinner and then settle down via bedtime routines.

July 13, 2016 | Ben Berman

The Writing Life

The Education of a Poet

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Our first few steps into Great Meadows establish a host of false expectations. 

Two red-winged blackbirds greet us with their trills and a sunning bullfrog croaks a big fat welcome from his lily pad.

My daughters are delighted, of course, but I find it a bit unsettling — how am I going to secretly train them to become poets if the treasures of nature reveal themselves so willingly? 

June 8, 2016 | Ben Berman

The Writing Life

Playing with Matches

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We’re late for school, and my five-year-old is getting undressed.

 We gotta go, I say.

 Sorry, she says. My underwear doesn’t match my sweater.

 Does it really matter? I say.

 She looks up from the hamper, raises her eyebrows, then continues digging through the dirty laundry.

And though I’m tempted to point out that no one will ever know whether or not the trimming of her underwear matches the flowers on her sweater, that chances are she’s going to take off her sweater the second she gets to school, as a poet, I understand the importance …

May 11, 2016 | Ben Berman

The Writing Life

Crossing Boundaries

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It wasn’t even three in the morning and my five-year-old wanted to know if it was time to wake up yet.


After all, it was the first of April, which, if you’re five, is the day that all of your mischief and little white lies are suddenly sanctioned by the federal government.


That the beginning of National Poetry Month happens to overlap with April Fools Day got me thinking about the relationship between writing a poem and pulling off a good prank.

April 13, 2016 | Ben Berman

The Writing Life

Sound Ideas

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My two-year-old’s favorite word these days is doo-doo.


She’ll tell friendly store clerks that that is her name.


She’ll cry for us in middle of the night. I hongry, she’ll say when we get to her crib. What do you want to eat? we’ll ask. Doo-doo, she’ll say, before dropping back to sleep.

March 9, 2016 | Ben Berman