Amy Monticello on Dear Sugar #39, “The Baby Bird”

Assay: A Journal of Nonfiction Studies

Screen Shot 2015-01-05 at 7.23.23 AMAmy Monticello’s work has appeared in The Iron Horse Literary Review, Brevity, Redivider, The Rumpus, and elsewhere. She is the author of Close Quarters (Sweet Publications), and an assistant professor at Suffolk University. She lives in Boston with her husband and daughter.


In nonfiction, there’s a better self—a more clear-eyed, compassionate, empathetic self—I hope my students will reach for through writing about real people and situations. Through whatever wincing confessions and honest characterizations may be necessary, I want my students to write in order to illuminate the threads of desire and fear and love and pain that connect us. It’s a tall order: be better on the page than you are in real life.

To that end, I’ve created an assignment based on the advice column Dear Sugar on The Rumpus, helmed, from 2010-2012, by Cheryl Strayed (now a podcast featuring Strayed and Steve Almond). What makes…

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