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Grammar is Your Friend

49 Writers - Mon, 01/25/2016 - 5:00am
Want to make yourself unpopular? Correct someone’s grammar. And yet, for a writer, grammar isn’t just making sure you’ve got the right their-there-they’re, it’s about understanding how sentence structure and punctuation can be used to make your writing more effective.
My students have often jumped to point out e e cummings’s lack of adherence to punctuation and capitalization rules as proof positive that creative writers (especially poets) do not have to hew to the strictures of grammar. To them, I offered the following advice, “In order to break the rules, you need to know the rules.” I still truly believe that. But perhaps more correctly, I should have said, “If you’re going to break the rules, make sure it is for a purpose.”
Writing a sentence fragment. Ending a sentence with a preposition. Starting a sentence with a conjunction. All grammatical no-no’s that can be used with great effect. However, breaking the rules must be intentional, not because you are willing to write sloppily.
And so, to help those of you that may have tuned out your high school English teacher, I’ve put together a list of grammar resources that are not tiresome, but rather are really quite fun.
Grammar Girl Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing A seriously fun podcast by Grammar Girl Mignon Fogarty
Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to PunctuationFor those of you who puzzle with punctuation. Here’s the book description: In Eats, Shoots & Leaves, former editor Lynne Truss, gravely concerned about our current grammatical state, boldly defends proper punctuation. She proclaims, in her delightfully urbane, witty, and very English way, that it is time to look at our commas and semicolons and see them as the wonderful and necessary things they are. Using examples from literature, history, neighborhood signage, and her own imagination, Truss shows how meaning is shaped by commas and apostrophes, and the hilarious consequences of punctuation gone awry.
Woe is I: The Grammarphobe's Guide to Better English in Plain EnglishAs described by Publisher’s Weekly: O'Conner's bestselling guide to grammar is an invigorating and entertaining dissection of our ever-evolving language. He guides readers through conversational conundrums with aplomb, filling in not only the logic behind the appropriate choice for, say, possessives, but also explaining such oddities as the spelling of restaurateur (instead of a "restauranteur"), the proper pronunciation of prix fix ("pree feeks") and a slew of mnemonic devices to help amateur grammarians keep ifs, ands and buts in check. It's these small digressions that make the book so readable, even for those with a deep-seated hatred for grammatical do-goodery. O'Conner gleefully eviscerates poor sentence construction and dangling participles, soothes verb tension and debunks the frequently intimidating semicolon with finesse. Tempered with a heavy dose of wit (reaching its nadir in her chapter on clichés), O'Conner's lively treatise is as vital as a dictionary for those who wish to be taken seriously in speech, in print or on Facebook.
For those of you who need a case by case clarification, I present OWL, the Online Writing Lab of Purdue University which is an outstanding resource for all things grammar and citations. I have steered students on a regular basis over the last ten years toward this wonderful resource.
So, don't dread grammar; revel in twisting it to your own purposes. It's still a bad idea to correct someone else's grammar, no matter how much you want to. Just do it in your head, like I do. (And for those who were wondering, I was breaking those grammar rules in spades so as to illustrate my point.)

Have a wonderful writing week,
Erin Hollowell
Categories: Arts & Culture

Artists-in-Residence Have Officially Landed in Tulsa

Clarissa Rizal: Alaska Native Artist Blog - Mon, 01/11/2016 - 12:29pm

Nine of the 12 chosen for the inaugural Tulsa Artists Fellowships during a reception at 108 Contemporary in the Brady District in Tulsa, OK, Jan. 8, 2016. (front, from left) Molly Dilworth, Chris Ramsay, Alice Leora Briggs, Nick Vaughan (back, from left) Clarissa Rizal, Eric Sall, Akiko Jackson, Rena Detrixhe and Crystal Z. Campbell. Not pictured are Gary Kachadourian, Monty Little and Nathan Young. Photo courtesy: Michael Wyke/Tulsa World

Now that we have been caught on camera and advertised in the local newspaper “Tulsa World”, everyone can agree that we have officially landed in Tulsa!  Click here to read about the inaugural Tulsa Artist Residency 2016

Categories: Arts & Culture

Checking Out the Philbrook Museum

Clarissa Rizal: Alaska Native Artist Blog - Fri, 01/08/2016 - 12:43pm

We rode the trolley to the Phibrook Museum

Only recently in the past few years have I come to appreciate museums.  We must understand that I was not born to a culture who kept old objects staging stagnant in an old building.  In fact, when I was a child, I literally thought museums were haunted houses.  They were dark, windowless, lifeless nooks and crannies where all the objects collected dust which made the pieces even look older and scarier!

The ceiling of the Philbrook entry

Fortunately, with every generation of new directors and curators, we have evolved to where we are today with museums being much more active, inviting locals and visitors alike to partake in rotating exhibits and special events in spaces that have included much more light!

The Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa, Oklahoma is an art museum housed in part in a 1920s villa, situated on 23 acres of formal and informal gardens.  The original structure is the former home of Oklahoma oil pioneer Waite Phillips and his wife Genevieve (Elliott) Phillips.

The museum opened October 25, 1939. It was known as the Philbrook Art Center until 1987, when the name was changed to Philbrook Museum of Art.[2] The collection housed at the Philbrook Museum of Art includes works fromGiovanni Bellini,[3] William-Adolphe Bouguereau, William Merritt Chase, Leonardo Drew, Arturo Herrera, Charles Loloma,Maria Martinez, Thomas Moran, Pablo Picasso, Fritz Scholder, Tanzio da Varallo, Rachel Whiteread, and Andrew Wyeth. A satellite facility, Philbrook Downtown, opened on June 14, 2013 in Tulsa’s Brady Arts District.

Curator of Modern Art at the Philbrook, Sienna Brown, introduces the “Camoflauge” hand-silkscreened prints by Andy Warhol

The Philbrook Museum is beautiful.  How come; did anyone warn me about its beauty?  I don’t remember.  The history of this museum is just as fascinating as the Gilcrease Museum here in Tulsa too (of which I will include a blog post about when I go visit the Gilcrease (

The outdoor garden of the Philbrook Museum, Tulsa, OK — the fountains were fantastic!

I am always fascinated by the design of buildings.  I especially enjoy old architecture influenced by Europe, especially Italy.  Instead of posting photos of some of the beautiful art in the Philbrook Collection, I have posted a few shots of this building.  You must visit the collection of art in the Philbrook.

Click here to read about the fascinating history of the Philbrook Museum

The Italian-style architecture of the Philbrook

In the near future, I intend on doing a couple of presentations/demonstrations in Chilkat weaving both at the Gilcrease and at the Philbrook.  I just have to get settled into the vibe of Tulsa, talk to the directors, and set the date(s).

Christina Burke explains the old dance floor that changed colors every few seconds in the Philbrook Museum

Notice the dance floor colors in these three photos.  Golly, I’d love to design and build a home/studio/ballroom that has a dance floor with changing colors!

Categories: Arts & Culture


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