Archives for posts with tag: Stuart Dybek


“Keep a writing notebook and get in the habit of using it to record everything from daily observations to your dreams…your art form is [one] that has as much to be learned as any other art form like sculpture, painting, and photography. Learning to use [these] tools is … important.”

Photo: Virginia Woolf’s notebook


Excerpt from I Sailed with Magellan by Stuart Dybek

I recalled the afternoon when the two of us stood beating erasers, and Camille confided that she’d done penance for stories – stories that I’ll never know if she wrote or only imagined writing. She’d wanted me to tell her a secret from my dreams, a secret from my dreams I hadn’t had as yet, and so I didn’t quite understand what she was after.

“It’s about feeling,” Camille had insisted.

I didn’t understand then that she was talking about risk.

Illustration: Chalk drawing found at



Poem by Stuart Dybek

I once hit clothespins
for the Chicago Cubs.
I’d go out after supper
when the wash was in
and collect clothespins
from under four stories
of clothesline.
A swing-and-a-miss
was a strike-out;
the garage roof, Willie Mays,
pounding his mitt
under a pop fly.
Bushes, a double,
off the fence, triple,
and over, home run.
The bleachers roared.
I was all they ever needed for the flag.
New records every game—
once, 10 homers in a row!
But sometimes I’d tag them
so hard they’d explode,
legs flying apart in midair,
pieces spinning crazily
in all directions.
Foul Ball! What else
could I call it?
The bat was real.
“Clothespins” included in BRASS KNUCKLES. Copyright (c) 2004 by Stuart Dybek. Find the book here.
Photo: Clothespins by A River Runs Through It



Story by Stuart Dybek

I remember, though I might have dreamed it, a radio show I listened to when we lived on Eighteenth Street above the taxidermist. It was a program in which kids phoned the station and reported something they’d lost – a code ring, a cap gun, a ball, a doll – always their favorite. And worse than lost toys, pets, not just dogs and cats, but hamsters, parakeets, dime store turtles with painted shells…

Magically, by the end of the program, everything would be found. I still don’t know how they accomplished this, and recall wondering if it would work to phone in and report something I’d always wanted as missing. For it seemed to me then that something one always wanted, but never had, was his all the same, and wasn’t it lost?

Excerpted from The Coast of Chicago by Stuart Dybek, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Illustration: St. Anthony, finder of lost things.




Poem by Stuart Dybek

man steps out of sunlight,

sunlight that streams like grace,

still gaping at blue sky

staked across the emptiness of space,

into a history where shadows

assume a human face.

A man slips into silence

that began as a cry,

still trailing music

although reduced to the sigh

of an accordion

as it folds into its case.

Note: “Chord” taken from Streets in Their Own Ink. Copyright © 2006 by Stuart Dybek. Find the book here.

Photo: Nick J. Stone, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Find more of his work here.