Blog on Writing

Dave's stuff

The blog is a hodgepodge of creative pieces, works in progress, thoughts, meanderings, announcements, Portland literary events, notes and so forth. I try to get something new up here every few days. In the meantime, there are plenty of good words on the Guest Writer and Interview pages.


The following poem is technically a gift from my daughter — I wouldn’t have written it had it not been for her. Maybe that sounds a little too sentimental, but it’s true.


When our daughter feeds she cups her mother’s breast like a football.
Like a football because that’s all I know to say when I see her hand
around the breast’s swollen end. I’d like to burn my language away
from male things, would like to say later when I’m holding her, see
this ball, forget this ball. You don’t need to throw a thing,
don’t need to learn the perfect spiral grip, how the index finger should rest
far back, how to throw overhand in a 12-to-6 clock face angle, snap down
with so much action in the elbow the wind in your ear cracks. But I’m made
of meat and leather. I’ve been beaten by my brothers into the grass,
have looked downfield at the blitz of red leaves only to be sandwiched
between brutes. A few face plants, dog shit on your chin and the stuff
of ball fields sticks. Now I’m doing the Heisman pose in the mirror,
baby girl tucked under my arm, my right leg suspended like blue
Shiva Nata-raja, the god who kills and makes the world. I have less
than a season to hold this dance still before my arm grows too short to hold
my daughter, before her legs twitch out of this mirror, before she dances
her own sweet destruction.

[First appeared in Rattle, issue 37, summer 2012]

Idle chatter in the 4th grade writing workshop

This is the second-to-last week of this year’s writing workshops. I started class by telling the kids, “Fourth grade is the magical year. It’s your best year.” They didn’t understand what I was talking about. Over the next 90 minutes, all of the following happened:

  • A student asked if he could use the word “pelvis” in his writing piece. I said, “Sure, why not?” He said, “Because it’s down there,” then pointed to ‘down there.’
  • Later, after another student asked if I “was alive for 9/11″. I said, “Sure, why?” A different student cut in and said, “Did you actually watch it? And did you know the whole thing about the plane hitting the Pentagon is a cover up…SUPPOSEDLY…?
  • Finally, when class was wrapping up, another student looked at me a little panicky and said, “I can’t find my backpack.” I stared for a second and said, “It’s on your back.” He patted the bag strapped over his shoulders and said, “So it is.”



A friend, the father of a 12-year-old, asked me about this year’s writing workshops. He wanted to make sure they weren’t happening in early summer. “We travel then,” he said.

“They start in mid-July,” I said, “and continue through August.”

He grinned.

“Ahh, the dead season,” he said.

Hot, humid, dead or alive, whatever choice of words you use to refer to summer’s dog days, make sure and give the young writers in your family an opportunity to keep their pens and pencils moving across the page (or their fingers plugging along the keys, if that’s their preferred mode of expression).

If you’ve landed here by accident, hop over to the Young Writers Workshop page to learn about two separate camps, one at the Attic in SE Portland, and the other at Opal Creek. You can also also download a registration form for the workshop at the Attic, and get in touch over on the Inquire page.

Believe me, the kids have plenty to write about. Give them the space and time they want to put the words in motion.

Idle chatter on a Sunday in Portland

[Categorized under "Idle Chatter," the following exchange could well have been pulled from a Portlandia script]

BARISTA: So, like, what’s your day like?

CUSTOMER: Like, getting together with my band.

BARISTA: Awesome! What kind of music?

CUSTOMER: It’s, like, fusion with, like, literary punk.

BARISTA: Awesome! So, like, are you playing a gig or something?


BARISTA: Oh, like, practicing then?

CUSTOMER: Well, not exactly

BARISTA: (confused but still smiling) Oh, like…

CUSTOMER: We’re, like, working on our website. We haven’t, you know, really played together yet, but we’re going to have the BEST website.

BARISTA: Awesome!

[Later, same CUSTOMER and BARISTA]

BARISTA: I like your jeans.

CUSTOMER: Yeah, total free pile!

BARISTA: Awesome. Me too!

CUSTOMER: Oh yeah, awesome. Like, your shirt?

BARISTA: No, like, everything.

CUSTOMER: Everything?

BARISTA: Except my socks. Everything else I’m totally wearing totally came from a free pile! I love when I dress totally in free pile.

CUSTOMER: Awesome!

Audio of recent reading and interview

Hello friends and neighbors,

At the end of February I was the featured reader/interviewee at the monthly Show and Tell Gallery’s monthly Working Artists Assembly. You can download and listen to the interview and reading here.

Thanks for reading and listening.



Greetings friends and neighborhs,

I’m delighted to be the featured presenter at the next Young Willamette Writers meeting, set for Jan 3, 2012 at the Old Church in downtown Portland. You can find out more about the Young Willamette Writers here.

We’ll be doing an hour of poetry, starting at 7 p.m. The Old Church is located at SW 11th and Clay, and the event is FREE. It’s a great way for young writers to start the new year off with some new words.


I’m delighted to post the following three poems (with a very thankful nod toward William Carlos Williams) written by three of my very favorite local (Portland) writers, each of whom I’m happy to know. Their poems came from a prompt in which they chose four words from Williams’ The Red Wheelbarrow, then ran with their own poem from there. Have a read.


so much waits upon

ten thousand pewter

dry gray barrows of

cinnabar leaves fractured red

ready and willing to

— B. Campbell Ford

so much depends

a white wheel

through a white sky

molecules until atoms breathe out

so much depends

a white wheel

scattered clouds

gray undersides

so much depends

a white wheel

through static

freeing whorls of white

loosening skeins of black

so much depends

a white wheel

purple-black opaque silk

our eyes from the

maddened Midas

of the white-wheeled

— Pattie Palmer-Baker


the world depends

the wheel turning

moving the earth

keeping the seas

maintaining mountains’ upright

sending flowing rivers

always the wheel

earth and sky

all systems dancing

world radiant in

from hot sun

and cool rain

wheel keeps turning

— Mary K. Moen


The following is intended to clarify my approach and goals when working with writers in individual and group environments. For parents interested in connecting for writing workshops, I encourage you to read the following, then follow up with me through email to continue the conversation. You can reach me at info(at)davejarecki(dot)com.

The overall goals of my writing workshops, whether working with young writers or adults, are as follows:

1) Create a comfortable, inviting and inclusive atmosphere where participants feel welcomed and encouraged to engage with their own creativity and to share their creativity with others, free of self-judgement.

2) To impart valuable tools and lessons that will support each participant’s growth as a writer, no matter where he or she is in their own growth. (In this way, even within a group dynamic, I take the time to connect with participants individually to be sure they are continuing along their own path and pace.)

3) To encourage consistent, constructive writing habits so participants begin to build a daily writing practice into their lives.

4) To increase and enhance each participant’s literary vocabulary, building their strengths as writers, editors and reviewers. Much of this work comes in the form of constructive critique. To introduce the concept of constructive critique, we generally begin with pieces of literature written by someone not in the workshop. From there, we often critique pieces of my writing. Then we get into critiquing the work of writers in the workshop. This is a safe and supportive way to build toward critique, especially with young writers for who the concepts of workshopping, review and revision are still relatively new.


In the past I have worked with groups as large as 20, and as small as 2 (in addition to 1-on-1 sessions). In setting up a small, parent-driven workshop that occurs at one parent’s home, an idea number would be anywhere between 2 and 6, though if space permits, we could have as many as 8. The smaller the group, the more individualized attention each writer will receive.

For a group of 4 or less, individual sessions will last approximately 90-minutes to 2-hours. For 5-8 students, individual sessions last between two and two and a half hours.


When launching a new workshop, I prefer to set parameters around the number of meetings, in order to help us clearly identify and work toward goals within a set amount of time. If, once the workshop is complete, we decide to continue, we can stick to the original design, or we can redesign the workshop to accommodate schedules, goals, etc.

I’ve provided the following example to help you conceptualize how a workshop may run. Again, I’m happy to work with parents to design a model that works for them and their child/children.

  • Six group meetings of 90-minutes to 2-hours. Meetings are held in a parent’s home, or at a designated nearby location.
  • At-home writing exercises to be completed during the week. The intent of the exercise is to help foster good, consistent writing habits. Students will bring the pieces they generated during the week to the workshop to be read, discussed, reviewed and revised.
  • The overall six-week curriculum is a blend of creative writing and fundamental basics designed to enrich what they are learning during the school week. Writers will also be able to bring school-related writing exercises to the workshop for peer review, insight and revisions.
  • Costs for this type of workshop generally falls in a sliding scale between $600 and $900 for the group (or, $150 – $225 per student, assuming four students). Parents are free to split these costs in any way they see fit. My goal with these costs is to ensure that parents are able to afford these classes within their family budgets.


  • The after-school writing program at Woodstock Elementary (SE Portland). Now in its fifth year, this program includes three, eight-week sessions throughout the school year for Woodstock’s third, fourth, and fifth grade populations.
  • One-on-one workshops. These personalized sessions are designed to build on the strengths of the individual writer while also introducing them to new concepts, approaches and techniques. When working with young writers in one-on-one sessions, parents are invited to participate, share their thoughts and offer their input into the direction the workshop takes.
  • Summer Youth Writing Camp at The Attic Institute (2011). The inaugural youth writing camp (Summer 2011) welcomed more than a dozen young writers, ages 11-16, for a four-week, eight-session workshop built around creative expression, writing fundamentals and critique/review. Writers wrote and shared during each three-hour session, and also engaged in at-home writing exercises.
  • Winter/Spring Poetry at Depaul Treatment Centers (NE Portland, 2006/07)


Take a look at this previous post about the Summer 2011 Youth Writing Camp, which delves a little further into my process, thoughts, and drive behind working with young writers.

Thanks for reading!

New articles from out and about

I had the pleasure of writing pieces for Reed Magazine and The Chronicle Magazine back in the spring of 2011.

The Reed piece is a profile of the poet Elyse Fenton, “Rugby, Nails and Verse,” while the Chronicle piece, “Hunting Spiders,” is a review of the book, Silk & Venom, and a conversation with its author, Greta Binford. Have a read.

New tracks up on

I’ve been periodically adding live tracks to to give people a chance to download things. New ones include a live version of Let’s Sell America, plus a Banjo Fiction number called War on War, both from a summer 2010 gig at Common Grounds Coffee in SE Portland.



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