Skip to main content

Week of 2/11/18

PUBLISHED: February 16, 2018


In an effort to better acquaint you, the reader, with the VQR staff, members of our team will share excerpts from our personal reading—The Best 200 Words I Read All Week. From fact to fiction, from comedic to tragic, we hope you find as much to admire in these selections as we do.

Click here for access to the complete project archive


The time of breathing into clasped hands
hovering over a lighter to make a flame

not knowing
that an angry man threw his eyes into the night

the belly of his shattered father
weeping rain for separation of earth and sky

harvesting bitter grudges
from minds like hardened soil

packing up the wounds with mud and whiskey
and opening doors to wait

for those curious to know
how sky maps granted our existence

how the weight of earth
pushed against tongues of oars

and our tīpuna pushed back
and won.

Caroline Hockenbury, Editorial Intern
Maturiki,” Jessie Purdue


By definition, crucial conversations are about tough issues. Unfortunately, it’s human nature to back away from discussions we fear will hurt us or make things worse. We’re masters at avoiding these tough conversations. Coworkers send email to each other when they should walk down the hall and talk turkey. Bosses leave voice mail in lieu of meeting with their direct reports. Family members change the subject when an issue gets too risky. We (the authors) have a friend who learned through a voice-mail message that his wife was divorcing him. We use all kinds of tactics to dodge touchy issues.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. If you know how to handle (even master) crucial conversations, you can step up to and effectively hold tough conversations about virtually any topic.

Crucial Conversation (kr-oo shel kän´v?ur s¯a´shen) nz

A discussion between two or more people where (1) stakes are high, (2) opinions vary, and (3) emotions run strong.

Laura Plaia, Business Manager
Excerpt from Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler


Establish clear but firm limits: Fire is nice, but there’s a time and a place for it. So institute specific fire-watching times, and stick to them. After dinner, when the fire is lit, anyway, is one good option, as well as early in the morning, when a fire is just the thing to warm a chilly cave. Those living in glacial areas may have a harder time curtailing the use of fire, but just remind your children that when you were their age several layers of animal pelts were enough to keep you perfectly warm. Remember, you’re the patriarch (or matriarch, depending on your community’s customs surrounding familial power structures), and you make the rules!

Have a designated ‘fire room’ in your dwelling: Those with smaller caves or huts might find this suggestion difficult, but even establishing a ‘fire corner’ can help to create separate ‘fire’ and ‘non-fire’ spaces in your living area. In the non-fire spaces, encourage traditional activities, such as conversation (as much as your current vocabulary will allow), arrowhead-shaving, or stick-drawing in mud or soft stones. Reminding your children of the pleasures provided by these traditional activities can help reduce the seductive lure of the fire’s dancing flame.

Maeve Hickey, Editorial Intern
Excerpt from “Limiting Your Child’s Fire Time: A Guide for Concerned Paleolithic Parents,” The New Yorker, Rachel Klein, February 7, 2018


This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

Recommended Reading