Tall Ship Bounty

IMG_2159It’s October 29, 2015, the third anniversary of the sinking of the Tall Ship Bounty.

Bounty, built in 1960 as a replica of the famous HMS Bounty, sank off the coast of North Carolina during Hurricane Sandy. A daring and dangerous US Coast Guard rescue operation saved 14 people from the ship. But two were lost, the ship’s beloved long-time captain, Robin Walbridge, and crew member Claudene Christian.

I’m obviously drawn to this story because it concerns shipwreck — an altogether human and heartbreaking story of adventure, hard work, camaraderie, survival, and loss. Continue reading

Magic and the Intellect: A Remarkable Occurrence at AWP 2014

AWP 2014So for the first time, I’m attending AWP, the annual conference of the Association of Writers & Writing Programs. I wasn’t planning to blog about the experience at all. But something extraordinary went down this morning at a panel called “Magic and the Intellect.” What follows isn’t an objective “report” of what happened. A lot of other people were there, and each would have a different telling. This one’s mine. Continue reading

Family Lore and the Great Kanto Earthquake

Great Kanto Earthquake
Tokyo after the Great Kanto Earthquake

A version of the short essay that follows was originally published at my friend Marc Brush’s wonderful but now defunct online lit mag Wandering Army.

I have some mixed feelings about reviving the piece barely a month after the devastating March 11 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. But I keep seeing references to the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake, and only a few of these references make mention of the story that I’m going to tell here. Continue reading

Consuming Disaster

minato, "Sendai earthquake", tsunami
Aerial view of Minato after earthquake & tsunami. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Ethan Johnson.

Since the Sendai earthquake struck northeastern Japan on March 11, many of us have been riveted to our televisions or computer screens, watching in horror as the death toll mounts, the nuclear threat refuses to subside, and more and more images and video of the tsunami and its aftermath are broadcast around the world. It’s horrible to see, but I find it impossible to look away.

I first learned about the earthquake minutes after it occurred, from a friend on Facebook, and stayed up half the night watching the live coverage on TV. Since then I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time online, checking for anything new — photos, video, updates about the power plant in Fukushima, stories about miraculous rescues (few) and heartbreak (many). I’m really having to force myself to pay attention to my “real” life. Continue reading