Seattle-based Writer, Author, Poet, Writing Teacher

Priscilla Long

By Priscilla Long

This story appeared in Passages North (Winter/Spring 2004).

Gregory Mattson struggled up from his typewriter. Sweat trickled down his lard-pale belly and darkened the elastic of his boxer shorts. Sumter yowled and rolled on the floor and scratched fleas. In the next room, a television newscaster moaned on about the heat, for it was the hottest September in memory. Gregory tore the sheet out of the typewriter carriage, crushed it in his fist, and tossed it on the floor. Crumpled pages lay scattered across the cramped little room. Lesson plans on the Civil War, now three weeks overdue. Charles Humphrey, newly appointed Headmaster of the Latona Private School for Boys, required this demeaning obeisance of all returning instructors, no matter how seasoned. Besides failed lesson plans, Gregory’s… Continue reading

By Priscilla Long

This review of I Can’t Remember by Cynthia Macdonald appeared in The Women’s Review of Books, Vol. 15, No. 7 (April 1998), p. 7.

The poems in Cynthia Macdonald’s disturbing, brilliant sixth book, I Can’t Remember, constitute acts of remembering. The poems remember what has been forgotten, repressed, put away. They remember – possibly they inflict – the traumas of childhood and of history, and they do so with  concrete images and unsettling immediacy.

A father is lost, not because he has been “screwing around” as we might say, but because “Daddy had been slipping/ his slick, rubber-bound prick into too many others.” The Nazi genocide is depicted, not as the generalized Holocaust, but as one Jew who “smells barbecue/from next door: family burning.”… Continue reading

By Priscilla Long

This review of The Life of Poetry by Muriel Rukeyser appeared in The Women’s Review of Books, Vol 14, No. 5 (February 1997).

The life of poetry, which Muriel Rukeyser first published in 1949, is a profoundly important book, and not only because Rukeyser was, as Jane Cooper puts it in her fine introduction, “One of the great, necessary poets of our country and century.” These essays speak about what poetry requires of poet and reader alike: a fully engaged imagination, the deepest possible connection to feeling, a willingness to attend to meanings, to engage with symbol and myth. “A poem does invite, it does require,” Rukeyser writes. “What does it invite? A poem invites you to feel. More than that: it invites you to respond.… Continue reading

Priscilla Long


Poet, Writer, Teacher, Editor



MFA, Creative Writing, University of Washington, 1990

Founding and Consulting Editor,, the online encyclopedia

of Washington state history




2012 Hedgebrook writer in residence

2009 Jack Straw Productions Writers’ Program fellow

2006 National Magazine Award (feature writing)

2003 The Richard Hugo House Founders’ Award (a teaching award)

2002 Seattle Arts Commission (creative nonfiction)






The Writer’s Portable Mentor: A Guide to Art, Craft, and the Writing Life (Seattle: Wallingford Press, 2010).


Where the Sun Never Shines: A History of America’s Bloody Coal Industry (New York: Paragon House Publishers, 1989).


Weekly column, Science Frictions, appears every Wednesday (started September 11, 2011) on The American Scholar website. To see the columns… Continue reading