Bradford Philen is from Raleigh, North Carolina. He has been a teacher since 2002 in a variety of locations across the globe, namely: Owamboland, The Bronx, Dakar, Beijing, and he is now teaching high school English in Manila, where he lives with his wife, kids, and dog Bear. His fourth book is forthcoming with Tailwinds Press.
New novel coming in 2024 with Tailwinds Press!!!
Latest Blog Posts
I haven’t written in a while, but I’ve been writing. A former professor, whom I very much admire, has a blog that I love to read. He’s a climber and, somehow, his written voice belays the screen as if he’s right there in front of me, one move at a time—as passionate as ever about the important work that writers do. Full stop. The necessary work that writers do. One vital, measly, painfully slow letter, word, or sentence at a time. Are these online homes still called blogs?
“On the Practice of Delicately Revising”
I don’t know who needs to hear this but I got a pen that’s mine and I know it’s mine because it’s got my name on it and I hope you too can have a pen with your name on it.
“This is NOT an essay.”
This is audio footage of an essay I wrote a few weeks back about #BLM.
There is video footage, but, you see, what had happened was, I was in the moment. I didn’t even know I hit record or video record or whatever. I put my phone in my pocket, because I was holding my son and I was in the moment.
We’re on our front porch.
A few Sundays back, after my wife and I put our kids down to sleep for the night, I took our dog Bear for a walk along the paved paths winding around the ridiculously-sized swimming pools, tightly-trimmed grass, and tropical flora within the yard of our apartment complex. Bear’s a two-poop dog. Every time. No matter if it’s an early morning walk or on a night walk when, suddenly, ash begins to fall from the sky. No matter, he’s a two-poop dog.
I can only get so close. I can only imagine what it must feel like. I can’t ever really know. I can’t. So I wonder how I can work even harder at sympathy and empathy. How I can listen more and talk less. I think of a James Baldwin clip on the Dick Cavett show where he quickly schools a Yale Professor about the fake idealism of the American Dream that he has never seen.
Just as we put our children down for a nap, the protestors are marching down Clark Avenue, passing our home. I feel like such an amateur. We didn’t know they were going to march down our street, these change-making youth. The youth! The young people in this world who believe that yes, they can. They about to take it all.
We wake Khalil and Ava. They need to be witness to this movement. We stand on our front porch holding our children, each of us proudly putting forth one fist in the air. As the crowd notices our beautiful mixed kids, my always-smiling wife, and me, they cheer louder and harder. They shoot fists of love and justice right back at us and yell and roar. We are all yelling and roaring. And crying. We hear yeses and that’s rights and no justice, no peace and, “we’re doing this for your children,” a few times. And in that moment I don’t think I have ever been prouder to be an American.
I pray the momentum doesn’t only lead to protests. Time to stay focused and pay attention.
— from “This America” published in June of 2020 with The Good Men Project