Alison Clement

observations from a novelist who sometimes wants to say something small and see it published immediately


Man Ray and teaching

  I don’t tell my students about my doubts. I don’t say I think school is inferior to what we can learn through following our own curiosity, cultivating our own interests and developing our own course of study. I don’t say I’m convinced that the best way to learn to write isn’t found in the classroom. Read and pay attention. That’s how to learn. Listen to people talk. Find out […]

Continue Reading →

half the size of Utah

I wrote almost every day.  I was busy. I had children and a day job and we always had money trouble, and that takes a lot time. I wrote through money trouble and moves and kids and fights and deaths. I was not disciplined. I wrote because I love to write. Because it is fun, because it is deeply strangely satisfying, because I want to.  I wrote novels and short […]

Continue Reading →


March 26 I went into the post office at a place called Seabrook and asked the white man working there if he knew of a town named Seabrook Village where blacks had settled after the war.  And he said, lady, the whole place was settled by black people. We were on St. Helena Island, in SC, one of the Gullah Islands, islands inhabited by ex-slaves from Sierra Leone mostly. On St. […]

Continue Reading →


It’s Sunday, poetry day. This is from Sara Backer. INMATES I heard there was a fat skunk, all white, who waddled in the yard followed by two kits the men called babies. I heard about a pair of chipmunks and raccoons that hung around the kitchen. A hummingbird appeared one morning, a gray-tailed hawk at noon, and at night, feeding on mosquitoes, bats carved dark curves in the darker sky. […]

Continue Reading →

not irreplaceable

12 June 2009 Yesterday was my last day of work at my school, after 13 years, which was more odd than sad. I will miss sitting in my rocking chair reading Bark, George; How Squirrel Got his Stripes; Pete, Smartypants at School; The Lorax; The Viper; The Greatest Power; Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears. My hardest moment came when Robbie came to say goodbye. See you next year! he […]

Continue Reading →

Pabla and the agate

Someone objected to my statement that I have been fired, when really I’m only being moved out of my school and into a different one. Okay, fine. I am overly dramatic. I am sad about leaving the school where I’ve worked for 13 years. Today ten year old Pabla gave me an agate and a note that said, Happy St. Patrick’s Day, and then she skipped away with her long […]

Continue Reading →


> Blanca has come to the library almost every morning this week asking for me to give her tag board from the supply room. She is in 3rd grade. Her teacher is new and she must not realize we aren’t supposed to give a child tag board every day, but I don’t care. Blanca is a girl who always knows what she is doing. One day she needed it for picture […]

Continue Reading →