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News Articles, with Rus Bowden


News at Eleven

[Derek] Walcott, 79, said: "I withdraw from the election to be professor of poetry at Oxford. I am disappointed that such low tactics have been used in this election and I do not want to get into a race for a post where it causes embarrassment to those who have chosen to support me for the role or to myself.

"I already have a great many work commitments and while I was happy to be put forward for the post, if it has degenerated into a low and degrading attempt at character assassination, I do not want to be part of it."

from London Evening Standard: Nobel winner quits Oxford poetry race over sex claims
also The Sunday Times: Sex pest file gives Oxford poetry race a nasty edge

Boring, predictable, repetitive. I don't like the current state of poetry generally, especially in the states. You would think that there was no such thing as the war, the subjects that they write about. When you look at the subject of American torture, that's horrific.

Ginsberg used to write about contemporary events. Poets also do, but I don't think the American poet engages in the reality of America as an empire. As an empire, its poets don't write about that. [--Derek Walcott]

from Next: A conversation with Derek Walcott
also Times Online: Forty Acres: a poem for Barack Obama from Nobel winner Derek Walcott

"The U.S. government is concerned about reports that Aung San Suu Kyi needs medical care and that the Burmese authorities have detained her primary personal physician, Dr. Tin Myo Win," State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said.

"We urge the Burmese regime to allow Aung San Suu Kyi to receive immediate medical care from a doctor. We further call on the regime to permit Aung San Suu Kyi to meet with her personal attorney immediately," Kelly said.

He also called for the immediate and unconditional release of Aung San Suu Kyi--a Nobel peace laureate and leader of the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD)--as well as of the more than 2,000 political prisoners in Burma.

from Radio Free Asia: Opposition Chief 'Needs Medical Care'

On the other hand, if we allow certain traits, like one's blackness or one's poverty, to act as empathetic footholds, we have to ask where to draw the line.

It's a difficult, if not impossible, question. "[T]hree-quarters of my poems wouldn't be written if I had to be there and actually go through it," [Patricia] Smith tells the Times. Indeed, any limit placed on empathetic ability is a limit on the human imagination. Furthermore, if we were to posit an empathetic inability on the part of an outsider writer, then that inability would apply to an outsider reader as well. Thus, even if a book on Katrina were written by one of its victims, the author would still have to find a way to relate their experience to someone we've posited as being incapable of understanding it. Victims don't have a special language; we are all limited to the same dictionary.

from Bookslut: The Right to Write About It: Hurricane Katrina in Poetry
also The Day: Patricia Smith And The Poetry Of Katrina

The deer-boy is liberated by acting out a genetically predetermined disposition. He is aware of it all, haughty but apologetic, mother-pleasing but cognizant that he must eventually buck her wishes as well, flashing his antlers on the air. Transformation continues in the second, title poem, which recalls the herb the pig-men knew would throw off Circe's spell and restore Odysseus's crew to human form. [Thom] Gunn here gives the nod to his new-found psychedelics, but seems also to be honoring any number of transfiguring processes, for "man cannot bear too much reality:"

from Bookslut: Selected Poems by Thom Gunn, edited by August Kleinzahler

Of the seven poets who were the key members of the group, only two are still reasonably famous: DH Lawrence, who was briefly roped in for publicity ­purposes, and Ezra Pound, who despite having invented the movement soon went on to co-found "vorticism". For the record, the other imagists were: Pound's sometime girlfriend Hilda Doolittle, aka HD, and her husband Richard Aldington; FS Flint; John Gould Fletcher; and, a late jumper on the bandwagon, the plump and plutocratic Amy Lowell.

from The Sunday Times: The Verse Revolutionaries: Ezra Pound, HD and the Imagists by Helen Carr

[Taha Muhammad] Ali taught himself to read and write. When he'd saved money from his shop, he knew how he wanted to spend it: "In the 50s, with 30 liras you could buy a dunam of land. I decided to buy a dictionary."

In the 1960s Mr. Ali began writing the poems that would make him famous--they are filled with longing for his hometown and for the girl he was supposed to wed in an arranged marriage before they were separated in the turmoil of 1948--but his first book was not published until 1983.

from The New York Times: A Merchant of Trinkets and Memories

Carol Ann Duffy has said that she accepted the laureateship on behalf of all women poets. This is a serious and unsentimental gesture from someone who has been supportive of emerging poets for more than twenty years. One of her first acts has been to showcase her female contemporaries in the Guardian and she has donated her £5,000 annual stipend towards a new prize.

She is, of course, a poet rather than a 'woman poet', although when asked about this label in an interview last week, she said she had no problem with it.

from Granta: The Public Poet

After some rehearsals with the quartet I'm more confident about being able to get it right on the night. We shall see.

[by Wendy Cope]

A date in row E

First Date: He

She said she liked classical music.

from The Times: Poet Wendy Cope and the voices from the crowd

[Kenneth] Rexroth's means would have satisfied St. Jerome's demands for general style and emphasis. He once explained how he did it. "The basic line of good verse is cadenced . . . built around the natural breath structures of speech." This results in a rare naturalness. Here are several examples.

From Ki no Tsurayuki: "Out in the marsh reeds/A bird cries out in sorrow,/As though it had recalled/Something better forgotten."

from The Japan Times: Gained in translation: bringing Asian poetry to the English language

What did [J.R.R.] Tolkien aim to do? In his own words, he meant "to unify the lays about the Völsungs from the Elder Edda . . . to organise the Edda material dealing with Sigurd and Gudrún". These are perhaps understatements. In a lecture on Eddic poetry given at Oxford and here reprinted, Tolkien said that the poems had attracted "connoisseurs of new literary sensations" and the main aspect of that sensation was "an almost demonic energy and force".

from The Times Literary Supplement: Tolkien out-Wagners Wagner

Great Regulars

In the end, the power of Pushkin's masterpiece lies in its fast-paced and wonderfully balanced storyline and in the interplay between Onegin and Tatiana. The latter, "Russian to the core", is repeatedly linked to the traditions and landscapes of an older, more intuitive Russia, in fierce contrast to the sophisticated posturings of Onegin.

from Charles Bainbridge: The Guardian: Eugene Onegin

As much as America finds President Zardari repellent, we in Pakisan do, too. But you made him our president, and now you're about to give him billions of dollars in aid. We cannot foster any democratic alternatives to Zardari while his government gets bucketloads of American money. Local activists, secular parties, and nascent opposition groups can't fight that kind of money--it's impossible to compete with a party that has access to billions of dollars. Pakistan is at a crossroads. We are either going to save our country from its descent into fundamentalism and lawlessness, or we are going to have Zardari as president, bolstered by American aid and support.

from Fatima Bhutto: Obama's Murderous Guest

The language starts out all flowery and charming. Its tone is like a Shakespearean sonnet. "Deign" (condescend), the speaker starts up--but "deign" to what? He doesn't finish his thought until the end of the poem! He's getting as distracted by his darling Laura's beauty as she herself is distracted. Each line is an image of her, and we remain off-balance, not sure what we're reading, until we get to the end.

[by Paul Valery]

Girl With Mind Wandering

from Fleda Brown: Traverse City Record-Eagle: On Poetry: First thought, full bloom

Lynnie Gobeille wrote the Poetry Corner column for the South County edition of The Providence Journal. Her work has appeared in Sow's Ear Review, Clear Creek Courant, and in the online version of A Prairie Home Companion. She's currently working on a collection called The Fine Art of Becoming Visible.

A Sign Outside Poetry ClassPlease Check Your Baggage at the Door

from Tom Chandler: The Providence Journal: Poetry Loft a welcome addition

John Clare was in fact at this time a patient in a private mental asylum. This was his first incarceration for mental illness, which would set the pattern for the rest of his life He would spend essentially the rest of his life in mental asylums. Tennyson had considered having himself become a patient of the asylum, but decided against it and just moved into a house nearby.

from Sarah Crown: The Guardian: Adam Foulds on The Quickening Maze

The author of 1977's Harp Trees, 1983's Syntax as well as Pell Mell (1988) and his collected lifework, The Holy Forest (1993), perhaps his greatest contribution to The Tradition, [Robin] Blaser's work was anthologised by Donald Allen in The New American Poetry while Even on Sunday, edited by the poet and Miriam Nichols (2002), followed the 1998 publication of The Recovery of the Public World: Essays on Poetics in Honour of Robin Blaser (edited by Charles Watts and Edward Byrne).

from Judith Fitzgerald: The Globe and Mail: In Other Words: Robin Blaser: Sic transit gloria mundi
also Judith Fitzgerald: The Globe and Mail: In Other Words: Sic transit gloria mundi

The speaker, Simon, then admits that when first commanded to take up the cross for the staggering Jesus, he balked. Although there is no evidence that Simon was of the Negroid race, because of the possibility that he was, the creator of the drama can feasibly infuse his own perception of his character, Simon, and proclaim that he is of that race, and therefore accuse the Roman soldier of racism in choosing him to shoulder the cross for the suffering Jesus.

from Linda Sue Grimes: May Poet--Countée Cullen

The unfortunate child tries to catch the mother, wailing after her as she chases the bird. The child keeps his eye on his mother, who is hell-bent on retrieving the bird. Although the child is heartbroken while the mother runs after the critter, she is hardly cognizant of her baby at all, because she so covets recovery of the chicken.

from Linda Sue Grimes: Shakespeare Sonnet 143

The better nature is masculine and the "worser" is feminine. These distinctions do not refer to human gender; they refer to principles that correspond to the pairs of opposites found in maya. Both women and men come equipped with the problem, and both have to solve the problem the same way through transcendence of the physical and mental to arrive at the spiritual.

from Linda Sue Grimes: Shakespeare Sonnet 144

Sonnet 145 is a rather shallow attempt at cleverness that does not quite succeed. The speaker sounds goofy, as he seems to be contriving a situation while he recounts the linguistic event with the lady. He does not directly address the lady as he usually does.

from Linda Sue Grimes: Shakespeare Sonnet 145

Paramahansa Yogananda's "My Cosmic Mother's Face" from Songs of the Soul features thirteen stanzas, celebrating the speaker's devotion to God as the Divine Mother.

from Linda Sue Grimes: Yogananda's My Cosmic Mother's Face

But Ian, it's not the prospect of the kiss that's tragic, but the gap between the prospect and the kiss, the gap seized by science and rationality that makes everything predictable, measurable, and mundane. All right, I'll say it: I would probably kiss Michael Jackson, if and only if my husband understood that I would only do so to get the experience of kissing Michael Jackson (a poet's "research"), which of course would be tragic, because now I've seriously thought about kissing Michael Jackson and eliminated the surprise factor.

from Kristen Hoggatt: The Smart Set: Ask a Poet: Beat It

[John Updike] come to terms with the gravity of his health with the reaction of a man learning his car needs a new tire:

A wake-up call? It seems that death has found
the portals it will enter by: my lungs,
pathetic oblong ghosts, one paler than
the other on the doctor's viewing screen.

The poem, "Oblong Ghosts," quickly turns from the devastating news to the writer's satisfaction with the presidential election, comparing his feeling to "Christmas Day in Shillington," his childhood home.

from Bob Hoover: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: 'Endpoint' by John Updike

"The Writer's Almanac" is about writers, also about scientists and inventors and people who made great discoveries and did great things. They came from all walks of life. A great many of them came from the bottom and worked their way up.

"The Writer's Almanac" is not about the serious study of literature. It really is a series of stories of personal heroism, of people who are intellectual heroes, who had a vision, a lonely vision, and who pursued it despite of all of the hazards and achieved something of what they set out to do. . . .

from Garrison Keillor: The Tribune: Interview: Garrison Keillor dropping by Cal Poly for a visit

Larson's Holstein Bull
by Jim Harrison

Death waits inside us for a door to open.

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: Larson's Holstein Bull by Jim Harrison

The Oldest Living Thing in L.A.
by Larry Levis

At Wilshire & Santa Monica I saw an opossum

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: The Oldest Living Thing in L.A. by Larry Levis

On a Perfect Day
by Jane Gentry

. . . I eat an artichoke in front

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: On a Perfect Day by Jane Gentry

by Michael Chitwood

Physical therapists have opened a clinic in the office next to mine.

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: Praise by Michael Chitwood

To My Mother
by Wendell Berry

I was your rebellious son,

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: To My Mother by Wendell Berry

The Waltz We Were Born For
by Walter McDonald

Wind chimes ping and tangle on the patio.

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: The Waltz We Were Born For by Walter McDonald

What Have I Learned
by Gary Snyder

What have I learned but

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: What Have I Learned by Gary Snyder

Not every poem is as riveting as this. Some are merely documentary; a certain amount of fact is necessary to push the story forward. In fact, there is little here that stands alone. When I put the book down and walked away, as I had to do more than once, I found myself thinking not of individual poems, as is usually the case, but of an overall effect, a sense of horror mixed with anger and disbelief.

from David Kirby: The New York Times: My Daughter's Murder

To commemorate Mother's Day, here's a lovely poem by David Wojahn of Virginia, remembering his mother after forty years.

Walking to School, 1964

from Ted Kooser: American Life in Poetry: Column 215

The Family Tree

By the time my son

from E. Ethelbert Miller: E-Notes: The Family Tree

I Remember the Day You Left
(for Ethelbert)

You've been building

from E. Ethelbert Miller: E-Notes: I Remember the Day You Left

Love Is Wet

I am a faucet.

from E. Ethelbert Miller: E-Notes: Love Is Wet

Although a successful novelist, [Mary Elizabeth] Coleridge was never sure of herself as a poet, and wrote under the melancholy pseudonym "Anodos", meaning "on no road". But she was, of course, firmly on the road to what we would now understand as a modern feminist poetics. The breakthrough to a self-image that is neither angel nor monster remains for most women, writers or not, a difficult work-in-progress.

The Other Side of a Mirror

from Carol Rumens: The Guardian: Books blog: Poem of the week: The Other Side of a Mirror by Mary Elizabeth Coleridge

It is a universally admitted fact that Mahakavi Ulloor, along with Mahakavi Kumaran Asan and Mahakavi Vallathol--all of whom were contemporaries--brought about a great renaissance in Malayalam Literature in the 1st half of the 20th century. Their literary, social and cultural influence on subsequent generations of Malayalam literary men and women has been profound. The cultural impact of this triumvirate on Malayalam literature in the 20th century can be compared with the influence of Mahakavi Gurajada Venkata Apparao (1862-1915) of Andhra on Telugu literature and that of Mahakavi Bendre of Karnataka on Kannada literature in the 20th century.

from V Sundaram: News Today: Baritone: A 'mahakavi' of Kerala

All these thoughts about poets and poetry rushed to my mind when I recently re-read the great poems of Robert W Service (1874-1958). The crown of literature is poetry. That is why W Somerset Maugham (1874-1965) observed: 'Poetry is the sublimest activity of the human mind. It is the achievement of beauty and delicacy. The writer of prose can only step aside when the poet passes.' Robert W Service, through his great poems, succeeds in giving this message to each one of his readers: 'My verse represents a handle I can grasp in order not to yield to the centrifugal forces which are trying to throw me off the world.'

from V Sundaram: News Today: Baritone: Tribute to a timeless people's poet

I also realized that I had been slipping into a dangerously passive attitude and made sure to be on guard against that from then on.

Had I not, I suspect I would have soon grown indifferent to all around me. I would have become bored. And [George] Sanders was right: That's as good a reason as any to kill yourself. In fact, it is a kind of living death, spiritual entropy, a long, slow descent to inertia.

from Frank Wilson: When Falls the Coliseum: That's What He Said: Boredom, a kind of living death

. . . for a poem (as Shameless would say):

Still Life

There is nowhere

from Frank Wilson: Books, Inq.--The Epilogue: A pause . . .

by Michael Collier


The great flowery dress of my seventh-grade teacher,

from The Atlantic Monthly: Poetry: Embrace

by Elizabeth Spires


Puffed like an adder.

from The Atlantic Monthly: Poetry: Riddle

by Anthony McCann

Here's something as thoughtful as chairs in the snow:

from The Brooklyn Rail: Four Poems

by Buck Downs

down by the river

quitting carnation

from The Brooklyn Rail: Six Poems

By G.S. Heiligschreib

It is the play

from CounterPunch: Poets' Basement: G.S. Heiligschreib and David Farrelly

[by Kathleen Flowers]

In These Five Remaining Days
After Hafez

from Good Times Weekly: Poetry Corner: What Ripens Below & When Words Stop

[by Fred D'Aguiar]

At Sea

from The Guardian: The Saturday poem: At Sea

This is something different. We recognise some themes in there--the Nile, the delta, the music--but essentially this is an avant garde excursion that's closer to music than most conventional poetry we see. There is a violin player recognisable at the start as the piece begins, and some descriptions of the dizzying, reeling, fragmented and discordant music being played. There is the "eventual pining deterioration".

from The Guardian: Poetry Workshop: collisions

by Jane Duran

The donkey stares

from Morning Star: Well Versed: Stone Walling

Bleecker Street
by Philip Schultz

from The New Yorker: Poetry: Bleecker Street

Delphiniums in a Window Box
by Dean Young

from The New Yorker: Poetry: Delphiniums in a Window Box

Lines on the Poet's Turning Forty
by Ian Frazier

from The New Yorker: Poetry: Lines on the Poet's Turning Forty

[by Alicia Cohen]

Landscape of the Gorge with Pascale and Justine

we wanderedunder pines thick with

from The Oregonian: Poetry: 'Debts and Obligations'

[by Maureen Hastings]

Monkey on my Back

from Portsmouth Herald News: Poem: Monkey on my Back

By Jeffrey Skinner

from Slate: "Self-Made" --By Jeffrey Skinner

The poem is a tour-de-force, a superbly controlled turning-to-account of anger and loathing. One of the most interesting aspects of [Carol Ann] Duffy's new public role, for admirers of this very talented, intelligent and risk-taking poet, will be how she modulates the compassion and indignation of her best work to the Laureate's essential duty to celebrate. We wish her well.


Firstly, I changed my name

from The Times Literary Supplement: Poem of the Week: Fraud

The story of the Cocoanut Grove Fire of 1942 in Boston is part of my family's lore. I wrote a poem about it almost 35 years ago. But I found a reason to return to the story after reading Adam Zagajewski's essential poem "Try to Praise the Mutilated World," which appeared in the New Yorker soon after the World Trade Center attacks. The speaker of that wonderful lyric implores us to remember the world's ruined beauty. Adam's poem not only provoked me to answer, but pointed to something not yet articulated. I wrote my poem as if in dialogue with his, and also as if my daughters were listening in.

The Cocoanut Grove Fire took 492 lives.

from The Washington Post: Poet's Choice: 'Cocoanut Grove' by Ron Slate

Poetic Obituaries

Craig Arnold received his BA in English from Yale University and his PhD in creative writing from the University of Utah. Arnold's two collections of poems are Shells (1999), selected by W.S. Merwin as the winner of the Yale Younger Poets Award, and Made Flesh (2008), published by Ausable Press.

He received various honors and awards, including the Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize, the Amy Lowell Traveling Poetry Scholarship, the Joseph Brodsky Rome Prize Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the US-Japan Creative Artists Exchange Fellowship, the Alfred Hodder Fellowship from Princeton University, a Dobie Paisano Residency, a Fulbright Scholarship, and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship.

from One Poet's Notes: Recalling Craig Arnold
also Paul Lisicky: Craig Arnold, in Memory
also Los Angeles Times: Jacket Copy: Missing poet Craig Arnold presumed dead

Edward Berlinski, a lecturer with the English department's Professional Writing Program who colleagues said spent his life spreading his passion for literature, died of a seizure Wednesday morning at his home in Cheverly, Md. He was 48 years old.

Berlinski, who suffered from epilepsy for nearly two decades, was a poet and an avid reader. He devoted his career to passing down his love of writing, Professional Writing Program Director Lea Chartock said.

"He was a poet; he was a writer; he was a prolific reader; he was a scholar," said Lucretia Berlinski, his wife of nearly eight years.

from Diamondback: Lecturer hoped to pass down love of writing

[Robin] Blaser not only received the Order of Canada in 2005 for his contribution to the arts, but was winner of the Griffin Poetry Prize for lifetime achievement in 2006 and the Griffin Prize for Poetry in 2008. He was awarded an honorary doctorate by SFU in March 2009.

[George] Bowering said one of Blaser's major strengths was as a teacher. Despite taking early retirement from SFU in the 1980s, he continued to teach rising poets in his Kitsilano home.

from The Vancouver Sun: Kitsilano poet remembered for sense of humour
also Quill & Quire: Robin Blaser, 1925-2009
also Charles Bernstein: Robin Blaser (scroll to second article)

"The elder Chang and his daughter both contributed articles to The Korea Times as English professors, which is a rare case in any newspaper. (The younger) [Young-hee] Chang's work was never political and touched the hearts of many readers, both foreign and local," said Park Chang-seok, a former managing editor of The Korea Times and writer of the book "History of English Language Newspapers in Korea."

Both father and daughter also won in The Korea Times' Modern Korean Literature Translation Awards. The elder Chang picked up an award in the novel division for his translation of "Trees on the Mountain Slopes," while Chang won a prize 10 years later by translating the poem "The Fragrance of Autumn."

from The Korea Times: English Professor, Columnist Passes Away

In his generation, [Arthur] Cocks was a brilliant teacher of English literature, specialising in Shakespeare and the Romantic poets. He demanded immaculate prose, which he practised as editor of The Unicorn, the MHS magazine.

from The Age: To the end a teacher committed to his boys

[Kimberly D. Craig] loved to read, compose poetry and was a local Staunton history buff.

from The News Leader: Kimberly D. Craig

[Michael Freeman's] activities merely proliferated, earning him a wealth of administrative experience which proved of great professional benefit to Bristol where, from 2000-03, he chaired the School of Modern Languages with notable success.

As a teacher Michael was quite simply inspirational. His main areas were early modern literature and lyric poetry, though he also maintained an abiding and fruitful interest in Lusophone studies, and his classes flowed with erudition, wit, anecdotes and reminiscences to the vast appreciation of his students who esteemed, revered and befriended him throughout a career that ended only last session.

from Bristol University: Michael Freeman dies

Shields-born poet James Kirkup, whose work earned him an international reputation, has died.

from The Shields Gazette: Internationally acclaimed poet dies

[Lev] Loseff first joined the Dartmouth faculty in 1979 and had served as chair of the Russian department since 2000.

A lifelong friend of the late Nobel Prize winning Russian poet Joseph Brodsky, Loseff wrote nine volumes of poetry, numerous essays and two books during his life, Russian professor John Kopper said in an interview with The Dartmouth.

from The Dartmouth: Russian department chair dies at 71

[David Marcus] edited over 30 anthologies of Irish short stories and poetry and first published the work of writers such John McGahern, Colm Tóibín, Joe O'Connor and Anne Enright.

He had been ill for some time. Born in Cork in 1924, he was widely-regarded as a tireless advocate of the Irish short story.

Mr Marcus edited Irish Writing and Poetry Ireland for almost a decade prior to 1954.

from RTÉ News: Literary editor David Marcus dies
also The Irish Times: David Marcus

[James Mesa] moved to Santa Cruz and owned his own detailing business, where he was known as a man who touched people with his love and laughter. He was known as a talented writer, poet, athlete, healer, lover, fighter and inspiration.

from Register-Pajaronian: James Mesa

Far fewer people will have heard of Michael [Murphy] than of, say, U. A. Fanthorpe, but his late poems are magnificent, as good as anything written in these isles, and I fully intend saying so. Michael's partner is the poet Deryn Rees-Jones.

from George Szirtes: Michael Murphy
also George Szirtes: Michael Murphy: Allotments
also David Belbin: Michael Murphy, poet, RIP

In addition to her work in gender and sexuality studies, [Eve Kosofsky] Sedgwick published poetry, a memoir, and seminal essays on both psychoanalytic theory and Buddhism. Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2005 and to the American Philosophical Society in 2006, Eve was plainly nice, archly funny, witty, wry, and unfailingly interested in human emotion, culture, and life.

from The Advocate: Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick (1950-2009)

[Marcy Lynn Shurter] loved playing sports, taking dares and playing jokes, animals, crafts, writing poetry, solving crossword puzzles, home decorating, playing piano, gardening, plants and had a special gift for creating flower arrangements.

from Uinta County Herald: Marcy Lynn Shurter: May 20, 1969--May 8, 2009

Rhonda Thatcher said one of her most prized possessions is a Valentine's Day card Christy [Thatcher] gave her with a poem titled, "Where Would I Be Without You" that told Rhonda, "You raised me up the best you could/and taught me all you knew about good."

And she could always create song lyrics, which Mesman said Christy would randomly text while she was in classes in Lubbock.

from Clovis News: In tribute: Farwell woman put family first

Under [John] Withers' creative command, DDB London introduced innovations such as handcut typography and full stops at the end of headlines.

He is also credited with being one of the first creative chiefs in London to refuse to do creative pitches.

"Our clients pay us to solve their problems, not to solve other clients' problems for free in the hope of ingratiating ourselves," he said.

He retired to Suffolk in 1991 to develop his interest in foreign languages and poetry and his passion for fine wines.

from Brand Republic News: Former creative chief John Withers dies aged 79


News at Eleven

I believe that the continuance of the laureateship acknowledges that poetry is vital to the imagining of what Britain has been, what it is and what it might yet become. The laureateship shines a light not on one poet, but on many, as Andrew Motion has so perfectly demonstrated in his setting-up of the Poetry Archive. Someone, however, one of the tribe, has to tend the flame. And I suppose, gazing into that flickering flame, one realises that no poet truly knows where poems come from; that no poet has any guarantee, finishing a poem, that they'll ever write another poem again; that true poems make their own occasions.

from The Guardian: Sisters in poetry
also BBC News: Duffy on becoming Poet Laureate
also The Guardian: Carol Ann Duffy becomes first female poet laureate
also The Guardian: Portraits of the poet laureate through the ages
also The Guardian: Premonitions by Carol Ann Duffy
also Daily Mirror: Carol Ann Duffy: A previously unpublished poem on the nature of her work
also The Daily Mirror: Exclusive: poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy's poems for children
also The Guardian: New work from Carol Ann Duffy's favourite women poets
also BBC News: Poets advise new Laureate--in verse
also The Guardian: 'I still haven't written the best I can'
also The Independent: 'It was my daughter who made me accept Poet's job'

Chris Arnold is embarking on the journey of a lifetime to help save his brother--prize-winning poet Craig Arnold, who disappeared on a remote volcano in Japan five days ago.

Chris Arnold thinks his brother is still alive.

"My brother doesn't have a great sense of direction and uses a GPS to find my house in Brooklyn," he said. "But he's not a person who takes stupid chances. He is lost and he needs my help."

Japanese officals have said they will end their six-day search on Sunday, the day Arnold's brother arrives.

from ABC News: Poet Craig Arnold Disappears at Volcano
also The Associated Press: Search for US poet in Japan to be scaled down

"You know, actually, a long time ago when most people were illiterate, more people memorised poetry. They had to. The irony is that having education and books made us memorise poetry less. The oral tradition in Britain has really died because of publishing and formal education. What we should be excited about, and what the statistics don't reflect, is the number of kids who say, 'I want to tell you about my life in Hackney, and here's my rhyme,' the kids who get up and go to poetry slams. You can go any night of the week to venues in London, Manchester, Birmingham; you can see them having competitions and freestyling--and, yeah, some of it's not great poetry, but it's their lives. It's relevant to them. And out of it you'll get some good poets of the future."

from The Times: Benjamin Zephaniah

"I got my introduction to poetry by getting up on stage and doing it, and there was always a mix of people in the audience—ex-cons, people who bag groceries in the supermarket, people with kids. There's something in poetry for just about everybody," she [Patricia Smith] says. The eclectic mix matters. "It's easy to kind of huddle around other people who are doing what you're doing and feel safe."

Safe is not Smith's flavor. Her poems employ a vast range of personae: child molesters, gang members, politicians, even storms (Katrina revels in "The difference in a given name. What the calling,/the hard K, does to the steel of me,/how suddenly and surely it grants me/pulse, petulance. Now I can do/my own choking".)

from Chronogram: Eye of the Hurricane

The degree helped him [Michael Rosen] to see how and why Kids' Lit should be subjected to critical rigour as much as grown-up writing. "Children's literature occupies a very different position from literature as a whole, largely because of two things: it's part of nurturing, in the anthropological sense, but it's also part of education. You can't say that of any other kind of literature," he says.

Rosen was oddly placed.

from Independent: Chapter and verse: Michael Rosen on why it pays to study children's literature

In these "Endpoint" summaries the Top Gun technician makes it easy for himself from the mechanical angle: the forms are loose and unrhymed, held together only by the beat of the iambic pentameter. But from the thematic angle there is a strict discipline in operation. Every recollection has to be specific. If it passes that test, it can come from as far back as early childhood.

The way these poems search their author's early mind suggests he has belatedly discovered a modus operandi that he might have used all along.

from The New York Times: Final Act

[George] Oppen's interest is nothing less than the negotiated relationship of the individual to the world around him. Having all of his poems together in one place makes clear that, although he may have started out as an Objectivist, his work cannot be pigeonholed into any particular -ism.

After Discrete Series, Oppen didn't publish another book until 1962. He kept silent for almost 30 years, in part because of the anti-Communist crusades of the 1950s and in part because he refused to let his work lapse be used or misused as mere propaganda. Or maybe he just had nothing to say? As the title of his nostalgic second book would indicate, The Materials was less about objects themselves than the memories we have of them.

from The Philadelphia Inquirer: Collected joy: Oppen's poems

It may come as a surprise that there is a poet--Detroit-born Philip Levine--whose major works, as well as being wonderful and sad portraits of a particular time and place in postwar America, provide a primer on the history of work and daily life associated with the heyday of the American automotive industry.

The two collections that evoke these things in the greatest detail are What Work Is (Knopf), which appeared in 1991, and The Mercy (Knopf), published in 1999.

from The Canadian Jewish News: Poems for a fallen industry: Philip Levine's Detroit elegies

By M.L. Liebler

The Letting Go

Little by little
It starts. In Siberia,

from Metro Times: Chapter and verse: A collection of poems by M.L. Liebler
also Metro Times: A day in the life: The M.L. Liebler interview

Lin Zhao asked the same question--in the time of Mao Zedong. I discovered Ms. Lin--an extraordinary individual by any reckoning--in my last months as a Monitor correspondent in Beijing. She was a prophetic voice, a thinker, a Vaclav Havel of China who believed deeply in the reality of what she called "truth."

She was executed in 1968 at the age of 36, probably by the order of Mao. She remains virtually unknown in her country.

Lin's main insight was that Mao, to put it mildly, was not serving the people. Her prison writings during the Cultural Revolution may constitute the most incisive critique of "Red China" extant; they remain forbidden, kept under lock and key at a Beijing archive.

from The Christian Science Monitor: Tiananmen Anniversary: Memory of executed poet resonates

When the Millions' Poet competition was launched with a six-week-long audition tour around the Gulf in 2006, thousands of young poets tried out, but less than 5 percent of them were women. This was understandable, considering that it's frowned upon for women to appear on camera, "exposing" themselves to millions of prying eyes.

As the show has steadily gained in popularity, however, the number of women competing has been on the rise. Today, approximately one in every four of those auditioning for the show is a woman. And this is causing a stir.

Aydah Al Jahani, a young Saudi poetess who wears a niqab--an outfit that covers not only the body, but also the face--faced the wrath of her family and tribe for entering the third and most recent season of the competition. Upon hearing the news, her family pleaded with her to withdraw.

from The Philadelphia Inquirer: Poetry is a voice for women

Great Regulars

There's a need for what I can provide here, which makes me think about the whole issue of writers helping writers, and what the role of a poet laureate is.

A person doesn't have to have the title to do that, any more than a person has to be a professor of English to write and publish.

What does it mean to "help" writers? First, I think, be a good example.

Do good work yourself, stay disciplined. Give readings. Be generous to those starting out. Read their work.

If you're a state poet laureate, use the recognition to make poetry visible.

from Fleda Brown: Traverse City Record-Eagle: The writing life, after retirement

According to Noah [Fraioli], his poem, The Ghost in the Rain, came about as a way to describe what he sees as the function of a poet. He says he takes this task seriously. He wants to see everything and remind everyone that the world really is beautiful, rain or shine. He refers to himself as the ghost in the poem because while on his walks he sometimes seems to almost transcend humanity and become an observer in the most acute way.

from Tom Chandler: The Providence Journal: Noah Fraioli is a young writer with spirit

Whether she's feeling her way into the mind of Marie Curie, devastated by the death of her husband ("I pulled apart your coat/looking for you. I kissed your cloth shadow . . .") or casting back to the lares and penates of her own childhood ("The ritual walk to the bakery, Fridays/before supper. Guided by my eldest brother/through streets made unfamiliar by twilight . . ."), [Anne] Michaels uses her poetry to excavate her chosen themes of love, language and memory in lines so rangy that at times they press up against the edges of what the medium is capable of containing.

"I haven't written poetry in a long time," she says now, "though I'd like to think maybe I'll go back to it, when I'm wiser. But it's such a good discipline for a novelist: it makes you aware that even if you have four or five hundred pages to play with, you mustn't waste a single word."

from Sarah Crown: The Guardian: Anne Michaels, fugitive author

Congratulations to/Félicitations à Pierre DesRuisseaux, the 63-years-young poet, editor, translator, fictionalist and anthologist just named to the post of Canada's Parliamentary Poet Laureate who shall abso-deffo rise to the occasion replacing the accomplished and awe-inspiring John Steffler for a two-year term. According to "the job description," DesRuisseaux will compose poetry (especially for state occasions [unless, of course, he comes down with a case of Motionitis :)]), sponsor poetry readings; and, bien sûr, advise the parliamentary librarian on appropriate poetic acquisitions.

from Judith Fitzgerald: The Globe and Mail: In Other Words: Magnifique!

The mention of scrapple--a loaf made of flour and meat-ends--solidifies [George] Bowering's realisation we must always make the best of a raw deal: ". . . You have to hand it to someone/who makes an asset out of what looks like a drawback . . .." Thus, while the work's entitled, "I Like Summer," readers ultimately discover Bowering's less in step with the seasons and more in tune with the likes of Anton Chekhov (who wrote, "People don't notice whether it's winter or summer when they're happy"). Nevertheless, I mean it when I say . . .

I Like Summer

from Judith Fitzgerald: The Globe and Mail: In Other Words: In celebration of planetary poetry month 24

"See," a self-portrait sparked by a corruption of a photograph of her own heavily kohled eye, appears in Boki, but one example among many demonstrating the unique way in which [Nitoo] Das takes great pleasure in uglifying the beautiful in order to paradoxically renew and/or amplify the greater beauty inherent in such enterprises. Naturally, it will come as no surprise Das is particularly drawn to insects and creepy-crawlies (not to mention rust, decomposition and decay).


from Judith Fitzgerald: The Globe and Mail: In Other Words: In celebration of planetary poetry month 25

On one particular journey up the Amazon, [Patrick] Woodcock encountered a pod of pink dolphins (as well as learning the local legends and lore surrounding same: The dolphins, according to the inhabitants, actually represent the reincarnated souls of recently departed loved ones). Still alive to the memories of his deeply missed mother, Woodcock took comfort and solace in the stories which inspired this simply stunning poem included in his forthcoming ECW collection.

Swimming with Pink Dolphins
and My Dead Mother

from Judith Fitzgerald: The Globe and Mail: In Other Words: In celebration of planetary poetry month 26

As it burned, the speaker visualizes the possibility that it brought "To the midnight sky a sunset glow." He creates the image of a flower whose leaves have blown away leaving only the protruding pistil to dramatize how only the chimney of the house is left standing.

from Linda Sue Grimes: Frost Speaker Explores Connection of Two Worlds

This change of heart could merely be a ploy, just another attempt to curtail the woman's infidelity. He might be trying to break her hold on him. Knowing that she is vain about her appearance as well as her personality, he is probably trying to employ reverse psychology to make her more attentive to him. If she thinks he does not really care so much for her looks, he might dump her before she can dump him.

from Linda Sue Grimes: Shakespeare Sonnet 141

The speaker then suggests an alternative that if she concludes the comparison and still prevaricates with "those lips of thine," it is because her lips have "profan'd their scarlet ornaments." Again, he is accusing her of giving herself promiscuously to others: she has "seal'd false bond" with other men, to whom he lies as often as she does with him. (Pun intended.)

from Linda Sue Grimes: Shakespeare Sonnet 142

The speaker begins with the assertion, "One must have a mind of winter," which puts forth a fascinating proposal that demands attention. What exactly is "a mind of winter"? Is it a clear mind, a cool mind, or simply a mind-set that is capable of grasping the significance of a winter scene? Perhaps it is merely a mind full of winter, a mind that lets itself engulf the whole idea of winterness.

from Linda Sue Grimes: Wallace Stevens' The Snow Man

The guru/speaker of Paramahansa Yogananda's "The Noble New" from Songs of the Soul offers eight loving commands to devotees in an octet that consists of two quatrains; the first quatrain features two riming couplets, and second quatrain has the traditional rime scheme of an Elizabethan sonnet, ABAB.

from Linda Sue Grimes: Yogananda's The Noble New

Now my days were ruled by George's deafening demands to be fed. Six-inch worms disappeared into his extended neck as if he were a sewage pipe; sometimes they would curl around his beak in a desperate attempt to save themselves, and I would have to shovel them down his throat.

My dogs were riveted; they spent happy hours Georgewatching. I feared that they might kill him if he escaped his cage.

from Frieda Hughes: Daily Mail: They're the scavenging, screeching hooligans of the bird world, but this orphaned magpie stole my heart

Craig Arnold, 41, an assistant professor of English at the University of Wyoming, went missing Monday during a visit to a volcano on the island of Kuchinoerabu-jima in the northern Ryukyu Islands of southern Japan.

Japanese law only requires authorities to look for missing people for three days but University of Wyoming officials say the search has been extended through Sunday.

Arnold went for a hike up the volcano around mid-afternoon Monday, shortly after arriving at the island by ferry and checking in at an inn, according to his brother, Chris Arnold, of Brooklyn, N.Y.

from Hillel Italie: Associated Press: The Canadian Press: Well-known U.S. poet Craig Arnold missing on Japanese island

In Blackwater Woods
by Mary Oliver

Look, the trees

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: In Blackwater Woods by Mary Oliver

by William Henry Davies

despite it all
by Denver Butson


What is this life if, full of care,

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: Leisure by William Henry Davies despite it all by Denver Butson

Letter of Resignation
by William Baer

Dear [blank]: After much deliberation,

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: Letter of Resignation by William Baer

Little League
by Paul Hostovsky

When the ump produces

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: Little League by Paul Hostovsky

by Robert Wrigley

Returning the refilled feeder to its hanger on the tree,

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: Mammoth by Robert Wrigley

by Anne Porter

When I was a child

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: Music by Anne Porter

La Strada
by George Bilgere

A dollar got you a folding chair

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: La Strada by George Bilgere

Sometimes I wonder at my wife's forbearance. She's heard me tell the same stories dozens of times, and she still politely laughs when she should. Here's a poem by Susan Browne, of California, that treats an oft-told story with great tenderness.

On Our Eleventh Anniversary

from Ted Kooser: American Life in Poetry: Column 214

Sylvia Plath did it in 1963, Ann Sexton in 1974 and Reetika Vazirani (who also took the life of her son) in 2003 ... and now poet Deborah Digges has just committed suicide in Amherst, Mass.

Perhaps poets, more than others, are more prone to despair and depression. But if poetry is a form of self therapy, then those who write therapeutic personal poetry theoretically should be healthier than the average person, right? Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to work that way.

from Anthony Maulucci: Norwich Bulletin: On Poetry: Perhaps it’s time for us to move past self indulgence

Lessons From You

I want to speak Spanish

from E. Ethelbert Miller: E-Notes: Lessons From You

"I wandered lonely as a cloud." After reading such a line, comment seems superfluous. Time appears to stop. We look up from the page. We feel happy.

But why do we feel happy? What is it about this line that gives us the unmistakable shiver of poetry? Why is it so beautiful? Perhaps it has something to do with its balance of sadness and wonder.

from Christopher Nield: The Epoch Times: The Antidote--Classic Poetry for Modern Life: A Reading of 'Daffodils' by William Wordsworth

That volume, still the poet [W.D. Snodgrass]'s best, included a line that provides this new collection with its alluring title: Not for Specialists. The work that contains it, "April Inventory", is a wry, somewhat elegiac poem that I memorised when I first read it, 40 years ago, and recite in my head more often than you would believe. The opening stanza sets the pace and tone:

The green catalpa tree has turned
All white; the cherry blooms once more.
In one whole year I haven't learned
A blessed thing they pay you for.
The blossoms snow down in my hair;
The trees and I will soon be bare.

from Jay Parini: The Guardian: Whim of steel

As my spell as children's laureate comes to an end, so does 10 years of the institution. It was cooked up by Ted Hughes and Michael Morpurgo, and even if they didn't quite know how it would work out, it has become a way of giving the press and all the various bodies that try to foster an interest in children's books a figurehead to talk to. More than that: Quentin Blake, the first laureate, was so industrious and committed that he ensured none of us who followed after him could get away with merely being a figurehead and no more.

from Michael Rosen: The Guardian: The week in books

The beasts take advantage of the chaos and try to seize the throne. Humility is too humble to claim what is rightfully hers, the proud plume now spoiled by her tears, but she exhorts the Virtues to fine the beasts by demanding they bring double the number of gifts to the next meeting of the (now legislative) court.

That's the bare and somewhat tortuous story: what it symbolises is a more complicated matter. The rich interpretative possibilities, will, I am sure be fully explored by that clever and dedicated band, the posters of Poem of the Week.

[by George Herbert]


from Carol Rumens: The Guardian: Books blog: Poem of the week: Humilitie

And Ursula Fanthorpe has been that essential figure, a literary foremother, for several generations of women poets. Perhaps this was an irony for a writer who escaped the life of a teacher--she was head of English at Cheltenham Ladies' College--because she wanted growth and change of her own. Yet she brought me, for one, back to poetry after bad experiences at school, when I heard her read at the last Albert Hall Poetry Live in the late 1980s.

from Fiona Sampson: The Guardian: UA Fanthorpe inspired generations of women poets

It was like trying to clutch at water.

I thought to call my older brother and go over some things with him. But he might well remember them differently, and then I would have to choose between his version of events and mine. I decided instead that memory is something we create and must be taken as it occurs to us and not subjected to cross-examination. It is a poem, not a chronicle.

from Frank Wilson: When Falls the Coliseum: That's What He Said: The mystery of memory is the mystery of ourselves

Poison and Cluster Bombs
By Tinker Dominguez

When I read about lack of anger,

from CounterPunch: Poets' Basement: Dominguez, Orloski and Springate

By Lee Robinson

We want

from Express-News: Poetry: 'Want'

[by John Updike]

Needle Biopsy 22/12/08

All praise be Valium in Jesus' name:

from The Guardian: The Saturday poem: Needle Biopsy 22/12/08 by John Updike


by F. Daniel Rzicznek

The feathered saints of evening flit

from Guernica: Poetry: Geomancy


by A.C. Jacobs

Despite the real spite

from Morning Star: Well Versed: Continue

Hackers Can Sidejack Cookies
by Heather McHugh

A collage-homage to Guy L. Steele and Eric S. Raymond.

from The New Yorker: Poetry: Hackers Can Sidejack Cookies

Obscurity and Regret
by C. D. Wright

The hand without the glove screws down the lid

from The New Yorker: Poetry: Obscurity and Regret

We hear the unemployment figures pretty commonly now about Michigan. It's kind of the poster child for the trouble we're going through. But the way that that shows up in people's lives, even though we hear those stories, to have a more intimate connection to them shows you just what it means to lose a home, to lose a job, to have to move back in with your folks.

These are things that people had no expectation of ever having to deal with. And I would say people are substantially floundering.

'In These Times'

from PBS: Newshour: Poet Hicok Reflects on Economic Hardships in Mich.

By Russell L. Goings

)))) Listen

I am, I am,

from PBS: Newshour: Weekly Poem: An Excerpt from 'The Children of Children Keep Coming'

Among the poems submitted for this column, Julie Wheeler's caught my attention immediately with its opening lines. She took a familiar metaphor (He devoured her with his eyes) and added an original twist that brought the image to life with gritty reality. The entire poem extends and sustains this image of destruction to develop the character of what Julie describes as "a wanna be lover; he is just chipping chipping shady as a fox to get some piece of you, anything . . . ."

The Thief in a Hungry Man

His eyes eat you up

from Portsmouth Herald News: Poems from the Hoot

Birds have that reputation of marking the passages of life, and the glimpse of one rising, omen-like, through the mist, makes you shiver. This is from James Robertson's new pamphlet in Scots, Hem and Heid: ballads, sangs, saws, poems (Kettillonia, 2009)

The Heron

from The Scotsman: Poem of the Week: James Robertson

"Men's League Softball, Gillette, Wyoming"
By Lucas Howell

from Slate: "Men's League Softball, Gillette, Wyoming" --By Lucas Howell

To Say Nothing But Thank You

by Jeanne Lohmann

All day I try to say nothing but thank you,

from The Sun Magazine: Poetry: To Say Nothing But Thank You

In Harrison County, Mo., a remnant of grassland supports a population of greater prairie chickens (Tympanuchus cupido), a bird on the verge of extinction. In spring, during mating season, the males stomp their feet in dance, emitting low-pitched calls. I had the good fortune to witness this strange spectacle on Easter weekend of 2007. As I sat in a canvas blind in the pre-dawn cold, this poem began to take shape.

from The Washington Post: Poet's Choice: 'Early April' by Devin Johnston

Poetic Obituaries

To mark Pooh's 50th birthday in 1976, [Peter] Dennis gave an impromptu late-night reading at Cambridge University and was stunned to perform before a packed house.

His show, "Bother!"--named for a favorite exclamation by Pooh--was born. Dennis would perform it in more than 100 venues in the United States and Europe, including the Hollywood Bowl and Westminster Palace in London.

In addition to "Winnie-the-Pooh" (1926), Dennis drew from "The House at Pooh Corner" (1928) and the poetry volumes "When We Were Very Young" (1924) and "Now We Are Six" (1926).

from Los Angeles Times: Peter Dennis dies at 75; actor made a career of one-man 'Pooh' readings

[Josiah "Joe"] Diamond was a regular at the Columbus Jazz & Ribs Fest and Comfest. He also could be counted on to play the sax at the annual Jack Kerouac poetry reading at Dick's Den, said Peggy Barry, a longtime fan.

from The Columbus Dispatch: For decades, his passion was jazz

Tom [Deitz] was an artist, a poet, a writer, one of the best Heralds that the SCA has ever known, and a good friend. His first novel was mentored by Katherine Kurtz when he was asked to illustrate a book project of hers. Sadly, the project fell through, but she encouraged him to develop his own stories that they'd discussed while working on her project. Now, 19 novels later, Tom has long ago proven himself as a writer.

from Wild Poetry Forum: R.I.P. Tom Deitz, 1952-2009

[UA Fanthorpe] was genuinely fond of the monarch, too. After receiving the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry in 2003, she remarked: "You don't think this is an old lady of 80 or whatever she is, she's just somebody who's very good at her job."

She was one of the judges of the Golden Jubilee poetry competition, and in a poem called The Windsors: An Everyday Story of Royal Folk harmlessly evokes their unreal world by conflating it with that of the Archers.

But the predominant theme of her poetry is the cycle of life and death, with particular emphasis on dying.

from Telegraph: UA Fanthorpe
also George Szirtes: Ursula/The Laureateship
also The Associated Press: English poet UA Fanthorpe dies at 79

Speaking at a press conference on Monday about his fatal stabbing, Mrs Halipilias lovingly recalled her son [Phillip Halipilias]'s ability to see the truth and humour in every situation.

"He was cheeky, he was a mimic, he was a joker. My son was dyslexic but he was a poet and he wrote lyrics to make anyone cry."

The aspiring hip hop artist, who worked under the name "Affray", had recorded an album and was working on his second before he died.

from Wynnum Herald: Family seeks killer of much loved son

In some ways, Lt. Col. John Hillen seemed like a highly decorated, tough-as-nails retired Army officer, a former Army Ranger and Green Beret, who served two tours in Vietnam. He advised Iranian troops in the mid-1970s, before the Islamic Revolution, and developed a deep interest in Mideast policy.

Then there was the poem he wrote for his wife, a schoolteacher. He called it "A Teacher's Prayer," and it's widely reprinted, particularly as storms set in during early winter.

from The Washington Post: Decorated Combat Veteran Had Poetic, Scholarly Side

Brought up as a Roman Catholic, he [Tom McGrath] instinctively looked away from the repressiveness of Scottish Presbyterianism and towards the freedom offered by American culture, in particular Charles Olson, Gertrude Stein, Jack Kerouac and Charlie Parker. His first poems were published in 1962 and, by 1965, he was reading at the first international Poetry Olympics at the Royal Albert Hall alongside Allen Ginsberg.

While supporting a family in Bermondsey, south-east London--bringing up four daughters with his wife Maureen--McGrath was drawn to the burgeoning underground scene.

from The Guardian: Tom McGrath
also The Stage: Scottish playwright McGrath dies aged 68

[Lorraine E. Miland] brought joy to her family with her poems and her crocheting. She loved her friends, family and her many pets.

from The Dunn County News: Lorraine E. Miland

Mrs. [Elizabeth] Rimington was also a teacher and accommodation officer at Scarborough International Language School and a tutor for the University of the Third Age, teaching poetry and literature to the elderly as well as taking classes herself.

from Scarborough Evening News: Elizabeth, 95, enjoyed a full and varied life

Al Robles was a community activist and poet, long involved in the I-Hotel community and Kearny Street Workshop, and subsequently in the eviction protest and rebuilding of the I-Hotel through the Manilatown Heritage Foundation. He published a classic collection of poetry, Rappin' with 10,000 Carabaos in the Dark in 1996.

from Hyphen: R.I.P. Al Robles

Although he would win medals for his service, [Noel] Ryan wrote in his memoirs, "Let's set the record straight from the beginning. I'm no bloody hero. Nor was I a coward. I was concerned that Mrs. Ryan's little boy should not get his ass shot off. This meant that I would be very cautious at exposing myself to enemy fire while still doing my job and supporting my mates."

In 2004, Ryan held an exhibition of his work from 1965-75 at the Living Arts Centre, titled Juxtaposed. He also wrote poetry.

In an interview with local historian Kathleen Hicks, Ryan said, "I was never terribly interested in selling my (art) work. I gave away more than I sold. I regard myself as a dilettante."

from The Mississauga News: Library forefather was an avid art enthusiast

In his last days, [Qamar] Shahbaz was busy compiling his remaining work, as he had contributed a lot but could not see his books of more short stories, poetry and columns published.

Idrees Jatoi, author of a book on criticism, said that Qamar Shahbaz was the only writer of radio drama in early sixties. His poetry inspired later generations. Shahbaz was a vocal person as compared to other intellectuals advocating the issues of Sindhi language, art and literature. He has been a contributor for Sindhi dailies such as Hilal-e-Pakistan, Awami Awaz, Barsat, Ibrat and Kawish as a versatile columnist.

from The News International: Noted writer, poet Qamar Shahbaz passes away

[Ram Shewalkar] specialised in mythology (Ramayana and Mahabharata), poet saints of Maharashtra, like Dnyaneshwar, Tukaram and Samarth Ramdas and modern thinkers like Veer Savarkar and Vinobha Bhave.

from Hindustan Times: Noted writer Shewalkar dies

[Ella June Stringer] enjoyed playing and listening to music and was an organist. She also enjoyed writing poetry and had a poem published in a Veterans of Foreign War book.

from The Review: Ella June Stringer, 79

[Lois J. Ukrainetz] published poetry and her love of history will live on, too. Through her efforts alone, the Lindbergh Lake Lodge is now listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. Her poetry appears on the Internet and in publication

from Great Falls Tribune: Lois J. Ukrainetz

[Idea] Vilariño was one of the outstanding figures of Uruguayan poetry, with her lyric creations collected in works such as "La Suplicante" (The Supplicant), "Poemas de Amor" (Love Poems) and "Nocturnos" (Nocturnes).

Also known as an essayist and literary critic, she was a member of the writers' group called the Generation of 45, to which Mario Benedetti, 88, also belonged and who is currently in a Montevideo hospital in critical condition.

from Latin American Herald Tribune: Uruguayan Poet Idea Vilariño Dies

I remember how justifiably proud Paddy [Walsh] was when a few short years ago his book of Irish poems '"n Rinn Go Bearú' was launched here in Athy. In the introduction to the booklet Paddy wrote:

'Sna dánta símplí seo ar leanas tugtar pictiúr beo iontach dúinn den saol atá imithe, de na laethe a bhí--cois fharraige sa Rinn agus cois Bhearú inár mBaile Átha-_ féin.'

The following poem entitled 'Iascaire Átha-_' was Paddy's tribute to his adopted town.

from Kildare Nationalist: Passing of two of town's respected citizens

Theresa [Woodis] graduated from New Bedford High School and was employed at Brittany Dye & Acushnet Company for many years.

Theresa enjoyed singing, dancing and bingo. She took great pride in her many talents, cooking, poems and more.

from South Coast Today: Theresa B. Woodis


News at Eleven

Ms Duffy, 53, who is known for her emotional style of writing, has been chosen by the Government to succeed Andrew Motion.

She has won out after Andy Burnham, the Culture Secretary, introduced a new "selection process" for the role, with the general public given more of a say.

Poetry lovers were encouraged to "vote" for their preferred candidate by writing in to ministers, while the views of writers and academics were also canvassed.

from Telegraph: Carol Ann Duffy tipped as new Poet Laureate
also Independent: Carol Ann Duffy: A poet laureate with a twist
also The Scotsman: After 340 years, Scot set to be named as new Poet Laureate

Quebec poet, editor and translator Pierre DesRuisseaux has been appointed Canada's fourth parliamentary poet laureate.

DesRuisseaux, 63, is the author of numerous volumes of poetry, as well as fiction and non-fiction works. His poetry collection, Monème, won the Governor General's Literary Award in 1989.

His bilingual anthology of 25 English-Canadian poets, Contre-taille, was nominated for a Governor General's Award in 1996.

DesRuisseaux has also written on popular culture in Quebec, including the Livre des proverbes québécois and Dictionnaire des expressions québécoises.

from CBC News: Quebec's Pierre DesRuisseaux named parliamentary poet laureate

"We were very excited at the time of the end of the Taliban," she continues. "I dreamt of being a professor, of our group becoming a cultural association for the city's women. But everything went wrong. Nadia was killed . . . She had great spirit, but we could see she was facing problems. She was trapped." Nadia [Anjuman]'s few poems from that time talk of her as "a bird without wings".

"I remain, but remain a broken pen", ends one.

"If I was to say the situation of women is better, that would be untrue," says Leila [Razeqi].

from The Sunday Times: The defiant poets' society
also TimesOnline: Photo Gallery: Literacy in Afghanistan

[Woeser's] visits to Tibet are even more tightly scrutinized. The police track her every move, interrogating any friend who dares to meet with her. "Most of my friends no longer have the guts to see me," she said.

During her last visit in August, public security officials searched her mother's home in Lhasa, confiscating computers and subjecting Ms. Woeser to eight hours of questioning. When she returned home, her mother, fearful for her safety, begged her to pack her bags and go. "That was one of the most heartbreaking moments," she said.

from The New York Times: A Tibetan Blogger, Always Under Close Watch, Struggles for Visibility

Here, from "Our Savage Art," is a taste of [William] Logan on the warpath: "The only way Ammons could have improved ‘Ommateum' would have been to burn it"; "Almost everything Graham writes offers the swagger of emotion, pretentiousness by the barrelful and a wish for originality that approaches vanity--she's less a poet than a Little Engine that Could, even when it Can't"; or, on Billy Collins: "He's the Caspar Milquetoast of contemporary poetry, never a word used in earnest, never a memorable phrase. . . . If such poems look embarrassing now, what are they going to look like in 20 years?"

from The New York Times: Samurai Critic

My heart sank. It sank even further when two days later an immensely long letter arrived [from Philip Larkin] containing no fewer than 15 suggested changes, some of them substantial. He took issue above all with the heart of my profile, the character sketch that I had composed with such care.

"Oh dear, this final character sketch! I do want to sound less of a simple-minded book-drunk, if you can manage it; I want to sound more guarded, more complex, more like a person who could possibly write a good poem. It's absurd to write a character sketch of oneself, but I'll try anything to avoid wearing the particular garment you have woven for me. Using the properties you've mentioned as far as possible, I'd prefer something along these lines . . ."

from Telegraph: Philip Larkin

''It's a way to go beyond the surface of things,'' he [Mark Doty] explains by phone from his Chelsea apartment in New York. 'There is the rich and satisfying experience of not just writing, but of thinking and perceiving. A poem is always more than a description. It's not enough to just point to the world, its beauty or its terror. A poem has to move beneath that and make a claim on meaning. We want to look at things and ask, `What do you have to say about that?' The sound of frogs--'What does that mean to you?'''

from Miami Herald: Poet looks below surface to find deeper meaning

"A Human Eye" collects short essays and book reviews published over the past 12 years. In it, one can find some of the central concerns that have animated this writer since the 1960s. Rich continues to refuse to separate the artistic from the political, and she articulates in powerful ways how a truly radical political agenda can draw upon an aesthetic vision. In an essay on the poet Muriel Rukeyser, Rich says that Rukeyser "was one of the great integrators, seeing the fragmentary world of modernity not as irretrievably broken, but in need of societal and emotional repair."

from San Francisco Chronicle: 'A Human Eye,' by Adrienne Rich

The metaphore in this b. is a sort of eloquence built upon three words that bear more than one connotation. The verb râdihazhînî from the infinitive râhazhândin to wave and shake, describes the spiritual condition of the poet who is shaked by his love, hubb, for Him ( literally: it is Your love) so that he laments. But love, the sufi love, can also shake the poet physically when he is obsessed by ecstasy. The relation between love and the condition of being shaked is, morely, poetic and phantastic. Inorder to conceive the other aspects of the picture we have to reconsider the word h§ubb, love.

from The Kurdish Globe: Aesthetical Aspects in the Poetry of Mala-ye Jaziri--Part IV
also The Kurdish Globe: Aesthetical Aspects in the Poetry of Mala-ye Jaziri--Part I
also The Kurdish Globe: Aesthetical Aspects in the Poetry of Mala-ye Jaziri--Part II
also The Kurdish Globe: Aesthetical Aspects in the Poetry of Mala-ye Jaziri--Part III

Lying in a hospital bed, hooked up to a machine, while his [John Updike's] children and grandchildren visit, he asks himself: "Must I do this, uphold the social lie/that binds us all together in blind faith/that nothing ends, not youth nor age nor strength?" Elsewhere, he simply refers to "our wastrel lives." Certainly in youth we all spend our days as if there were an infinite number of tomorrows.

Several poems in "Endpoint" recall Updike's early years in Shillington, Pa. He remembers the "peppy knockout" cheerleader, later in life struck down by Parkinson's disease, and the friend whose "wild streak/was tamed by diabetes," which claimed his toes and feet. As man and writer, he is grateful for all they gave him:

from The Washington Post: Does Updike's Last Verse Hit Its Mortal Mark? Plainly.

Grasping a champagne flute and sporting a T-shirt emblazoned with the slogan "Tenement Glasgow--taking the biscuit", Edwin Morgan, Scotland's best-loved living poet, yesterday opened the archive which celebrates his life and work.

This trip to the Scottish Poetry Library in Edinburgh, where the collection will be housed, was a rare outing for Morgan. For years he has been suffering from cancer and has been largely confined to his rooms in a nursing home in Glasgow.

from The Times: Birthday champagne as Edwin Morgan, 89, opens own archive
also Scottish Poetry Library: Our sweet old etcetera . . .: Photos, as promised . . .

Great Regulars

The poem "Cyclops Country" is from my 2001 book published by Harmonic Balance. It is a poem about growing old in the suburbs, where life is mostly suspended in waiting. We pretend to have some control over our lives, so tools are arranged precisely. A single out-of-place tool suggests how fragile the illusion of control is. Husbands stand by mailboxes looking for the letter that will inform them that they've been drafted into the legions of death while wives tell stories trying to make sense of it. The what and the when of it all we can never really know.

Cyclops Country

from Walter Bargen: The Post-Dispatch: Writer turns his verse on suburbs

Since 2001, Pakistan has been a country in decline. We suffer a suicide-bombing rate that surpasses Iraq's. The billions of dollars we have received have not made Pakistan safer, they haven't made our neighbors safer, and they've done nothing in the way of eradicating terror. Instead, we now have our own version of the Taliban busy blowing up trade routes and flogging young girls.

The Taliban and their ilk, on the other hand, are able to seat themselves in towns and villages across Pakistan without much difficulty largely because they do not come empty-handed. In a country that has a literacy rate of around 30 percent, the Islamists set up madrassas and educate local children for free.

from Fatima Bhutto: The Daily Beast: Stop Funding My Failing State

No matter how complex the ideas in the poem, no matter how difficult some of the language might be, there would always be the recognizable real world in it, and real people who could always choose to get their raincoats cleaned instead.

[by Ted Kooser]

Selecting a Reader

First, I would have her be beautiful,

from Fleda Brown: Traverse City Record-Eagle: On Poetry: Keeping readers awake

Several years ago I had the wonderful opportunity to travel through Israel and the West Bank to talk to Palestinian and Israeli poets. Among the remarkable writers I met there and the one who made the greatest impression on viewers (I still have people talk to me about him) was Taha Muhammad Ali, who in addition to writing is a shopkeeper of a souvenir shop in Nazareth.

from Jeffrey Brown: PBS: Newshour: Conversation: Adina Hoffman, Author of the New Biography of Poet Taha Muhammad Ali

According to those in the know (and, trust me on this, no one knows more about these things than the Literary Editor of The Telegraph, Sam Leith), Britain is set to get its first female Poet Laureate with the appointment of Carol Ann Duffy to the historic post.

from Judith Fitzgerald: The Globe and Mail: In Other Words: And, Britain's Newest Poet Laureate is . . .

American Poet Laureate (1973-1974) Daniel Hoffman: The seeming simplicity of Frank Wilson's "Still Point" repays a close reading. Ten musical lines evoke, "As everything spun round/About the silence that he found/He had become," a man unable to "keep in touch" with others. The distracting grandeur of the natural world is economically embodied in two modest images, "a drooping bough,/A flitting bird." These, casually enlisting his notice, stir him to feel "alive awhile."

from Judith Fitzgerald: The Globe and Mail: In Other Words: In celebration of planetary poetry month 14

"Tusking," published in March 1986, was the first of his poems to appear in the TLS: a powerful frightening parable of coloniser and colonised, it is untypical of Imlah's work only in its short lines. Everything else: the distinctive voice, a mixture of forthrightness and delicacy, the clear echoes of pre-twentieth-century verse (Browning, ballads, nursery rhymes), the vivid economical evocation of place and action, the delight in sly subversion of conventional views and images--in this case, of Englishness--is to be found throughout [Mick] Imlah's later work and is here combined with unforgettable freshness and verve.


from Judith Fitzgerald: The Globe and Mail: In Other Words: In celebration of planetary poetry month 20

The speaker of this poem is at once defeatist and fainthearted (yet still a romantic). On top of all it all, she seems a little exasperated with herself, with her inability to fully interact with her world, but resigned to that, resigned to the world--or certain parts of it--always being too much to take at once. In the end, in what seems almost a parody of courtly love, the speaker's romantic side must remain hidden, for her eyes only, hidden from her sweetheart the drunk, but happily, through the art of poetry, not from us.

[by Meaghan Strimas]

Nod to the Drunkard I Once
Sat Next to in the Park

from Judith Fitzgerald: The Globe and Mail: In Other Words: In celebration of planetary poetry month 21

A theme throughout Paul [Vermeersch]'s work is empathy for the animal world that never loses its human subjectivity, one that is committed to seeing the unique "otherness" of the wild rather than only its anthropomorphised translation. This selection is from a three-part poem for Koko, the most famous resident of The Gorilla Foundation in Woodside, California; it demonstrates his unique ability to speak simultaneously to the specific while pointing a finger at a world hidden beneath it.

Ape (part one)

from Judith Fitzgerald: The Globe and Mail: In Other Words: In celebration of planetary poetry month 22

And so one has the experience of entering and leaving--a forest, a day, a life--knowing that all will turn back on itself in fulfillment, precisely the sort of immortality that will dwarf the giant redwoods and make their rings seem to spread like ripples on a pond. (One final note: Read this poem and you will know what the real California feels like.)

[by John Timpane]

Big Basin

from Judith Fitzgerald: The Globe and Mail: In Other Words: In celebration of planetary poetry month 23

In "Show Your Work!," an incisive essay he penned for The Poetry Foundation Online (which garnered an overwhelming response from readers in its comments' section stretching into next week), Matthew Zapruder explained the way in which the Velvet Underground lead him to conclude American poetry's in the poorhouse because its critics fail to do the job implicit in that description of same:

Today, in American poetry, very few critics take it upon themselves to examine the choices poets make in poems, and what effect those choices might have upon a reader. As a consequence, very few people love contemporary American poetry. Many more might, if critics attempted to truly engage with the materials of poetry--words and how they work--and to connect poetry with an audience based on an engagement with these materials.

from Judith Fitzgerald: The Globe and Mail: In Other Words: Matthew Zapruder takes contemporary critics to task

Addressing God directly, the speaker is seeking an answer to the question of why people, particularly poets, no longer demonstrate a deep devotion to God. In the past, many "Martyrs" burned for God, even as they maintained interest in other things. He suggests that "poetry" has become mere decoration, dedicated to romantic love that eventually fades. He wonders if poetry simply exists to serve venality.

from Linda Sue Grimes: April Poet--George Herbert--Sonnet I

The speaker then avers that the feeling she is experiencing is that of "a perfect rest" that has spread from her "brow" and over her "breast" and thus the rest of the physical person. She metaphorically faces the west, seeing "the purple land," while her consciousness continues to deepen. Averring that she "cannot see the grain" nor can she "feel the rain/Upon her hand," she demonstrates that her physical body has become unresponsive to physical stimuli.

from Linda Sue Grimes: Christina Rossetti's Dream Land

In the first septain, the speaker portrays herself as "a possessed witch," who has gone out prowling the night in search of evil. On her metaphorical broomstick, he has flown over the "plain houses," looking "light by light" for something that she cannot identify, perhaps some way to fill what she perceives in a hole in her soul.

from Linda Sue Grimes: Sexton's Her Kind

The speaker sarcastically proclaims that she would have him excuse her, when she knows that it is her beauty, not her sparkling personality or intelligence, which has captured his imagination, a situation that the speaker finds inimical to his true interests: "Her pretty looks have been my enemies."

from Linda Sue Grimes: Shakespeare Sonnet 139

The speaker, while remaining civil, does get in a zap here and there. By condescendingly remarking, "If I might teach thee wit," he implies that she is really too dull to be taught wit by him. But if, by chance, he could teach her to be clever, it would be better that they were not lovers. But because they are in relationship, he insists that she has to tell him what she means, because he is unable to glean her obfuscating communications.

from Linda Sue Grimes: Shakespeare Sonnet 140

The poem is accessible and innocent, and its dialogue will enable an animate reading. Its themes are powerful: the loss of leaving a homeland and the isolation of an immigrant's life.

My yellow poem, for mature audiences, will be one of Kim Addonizio's poems (meaning, Cassy, if you don't make a mature audience, this poem's not for you):

You Don't Know What Love Is

from Kristen Hoggatt: The Smart Set: Ask a Poet: Pocket Prose

Autopsy in the Form of an Elegy
by John Stone

In the chest

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: Autopsy in the Form of an Elegy by John Stone

by Edward Hirsch

It's that vague feeling of panic

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: Commuters by Edward Hirsch

From a Bus Window in Central Ohio, Just Before a Thunder Shower
by James Wright

Cribs loaded with roughage huddle together

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: From a Bus Window in Central Ohio, Just Before a Thunder Shower by James Wright

by Sharon Bryan

Middle age refers more

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: Foreseeing by Sharon Bryan

Homage to Roy Orbison
by Irene McKinney

If I can touch the voice of Roy Orbison

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: Homage to Roy Orbison by Irene McKinney

Paper, Scissors, Stone
by Tom Wayman

An executive's salary for working with paper

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: Paper, Scissors, Stone by Tom Wayman

That Time of Year
by Philip Appleman

So April's here, with all these soggy showers,

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: That Time of Year by Philip Appleman

Bill Holm, one of the most intelligent and engaging writers of our northern plains, died on February 25th. He will be greatly missed. He and I were of the same generation and we shared the same sense of wonder, amusement, and skepticism about the course of technology. I don't yet own an Earbud, but I won't need to, now that we have Bill's poem.


from Ted Kooser: American Life in Poetry: Column 213

[Charlie] Plymell celebrates details of geographic places in many of his poems, whether Paris, Utah, Baltimore, or Nueva York. Like many Kansans, he is an inveterate traveler, and he has some of the best highway poems. "Not a Regular Kansas Sermon" references Kansas culture in several ways: the subsistence living, with pear cactus and jackrabbits making a meal; and a faith that makes psychological survival possible. He has a declamatory style, with the ability to compress stories to their barest, most gleaming bones.

Not a Regulars Kansas Sermon

For my mother in the hospital

from Denise Low: Ad Astra Poetry Project: Charlie Plymell (1935-- )


The people covering their faces

from E. Ethelbert Miller: E-Notes: Bargains

Free Fall

When the bearded man on the screen

from E. Ethelbert Miller: E-Notes: Free Fall

Lessons from Houdini

You practice disappearing

from E. Ethelbert Miller: E-Notes: Lessons from Houdini

But preserving the childlikeness, the great problem, I think, for every writer as they get older, but perhaps especially for people who volunteer to put themselves in the front line in the way that you and I have done and articulate all the time every day our ideas about poetry, about poetry's merits and values and all these things, is that the saying of it invades the quiet, and in a crucial sense, unthinking bit of our minds, which is so crucially the place that the poems originate in. The whole business of getting older is about becoming, among other things, is about becoming more worldy wise, more expressive about the things that happens to us. That's not good for writing, becuase it distorts the balance between the known and the unknown, the sayable and the difficult to say in our make-up.

from Andrew Motion: The Guardian: Andrew Motion and Michael Rosen on children's poetry

Last month over 150,000 people were using it in a regular way--by which I mean not just people logging on thinking it was something to do with poultry--they really meant to be there.

This new fangled thing the web has established two very beautiful ancient truths about poetry--one is that people like listening to it and reading it, and the other is that a poem has as much to do with the sound it makes as it does with what the words mean on the page.

from Andrew Motion: BBC News: Last words of a Laureate: Motion bows out

Only a certain precision and delicacy in the diction, and the occasional slight swelling of tension at line-endings, distinguish the poem from prose – but do so securely. Truth to memory of the repeated, unvarying event is the only 'effect' the poem reaches for, preparing in this way for the quietly visionary close and the sense of reality altered for ever. Here, it is only the 'big green metal grass-basket' that declares itself 'By Royal Appointment'.

The Mower

from Andrew Motion: The Times Literary Supplement: The Mower

Andrew Motion's 'Recession' poem:

Poor Alistair Darling's new budget

from Telegraph: Poet Laureate Andrew Motion laments burden of recession in new poem

In sight and sound, the poem is plotted to perfection. With the precision of Hitchcock, Tennyson lets us see the eagle from every angle. We start with a close up of the "crooked hands," pan up to the sun blazing above us, take in a 360 degree tracking shot of the sky, and then gaze down at the sea below us. We return to the eagle (perhaps zooming in on his watchful eye) and then, in a blur of feathers, he disappears.

Alliteration and rhyme help us to taste the scene on our tongue.

from Christopher Nield: The Epoch Times: The Antidote--Classic Poetry for Modern Life: A Reading of 'The Eagle' by Lord Alfred Tennyson

Sir Arthur's name appears to be concocted from King Arthur and a convenient rhyme with Hellvellyn, yet it has a strange ring of truth to it. Like Eleanor Rigby's, his name is so evocative it's hard to believe no such person ever existed.

His grave rests in a secluded spot "by the side of a spring" on "the breast of Helvellyn"--a mountain in the Lake District in the North West of England. Nature, often so vengeful in the Coleridge's work, assumes a comforting maternal aspect.

from Christopher Nield: The Epoch Times: The Antidote--Classic Poetry for Modern Life: A Reading of "The Knight's Tomb" by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Although it has often been dismissed as dated and jingoistic, I find it far more profound than it may initially appear. Its Latin title translates as "the torch of life," and it describes a light of inspiration that burns in every age.

The poem begins with a cricket match on the green of Newbolt's old school, Clifton College in Bristol, England. However, we could be watching any cricket match in any park across the world, or, for that matter, any game of baseball.

from Christopher Nield: The Epoch Times: The Antidote--Classic Poetry for Modern Life: A Reading of 'Vitae Lampada' by Henry Newbolt

I began to notice it around Easter, the season of resurrection, the season of regeneration. The daffodils were peeking up out of the seemingly still-frozen ground. The magnolias had come into bloom, their spoon-size petals opening wide. And I started feeling . . . better. Not "recovered," the way one feels after a flu. But . . . better. I suppose this isn't a surprise. I simply conform to the clinical norm: Studies show many mourners begin to feel less depressed around four months after the death.

from Meghan O'Rourke: Slate: The Long Goodbye: What Is It Like To Recover From Grief?
also Meghan O'Rourke: Slate: The Long Goodbye: Watching Someone You Love Accept Death

[W.S.] Merwin was among those who, in the 60s, began to loosen the screws of formal verse. He grew into his mature style in the later 60s and 70s, when he moved toward the curiously impersonal voice and "open" style that have become his trademark. As he began to write his own kind of free verse, he layered image upon bright image, allowing the lines to hang in space, largely without punctuation, without rhymes, as in the final stanza of "Thanks," where he writes with a kind of graceful urgency:

from Jay Parini: The Guardian: Why WS Merwin deserves his second Pulitzer prize

In his "asylum" poems, [Ivor] Gurney sometimes hurls himself into a desperate argument with God and fate, but not here. Here, like his remembered self, he quietly shoulders the final disappointment. The farmer has other business to attend to, and the poet is driven on by his clamouring private demons. There is no self-pity or recrimination. The end of the poem is wonderfully matter-of-fact, with the precise measurement of the field ("fifteen acres") a peculiarly haunting detail, almost an acknowledgement that something apparently trifling has imprinted itself on the poet's mind, intense and unforgettable.

The Mangel-Bury

from Carol Rumens: The Guardian: Books blog: Poem of the week: The Mangel-Bury by Ivor Gurney

These issues of death and grief are approached with humanism and humility. From "The Visit": "The once-master of my universe/walks with an unsteady gait/My own mortality/slaps me in the face." [Belinda] Subraman's helplessness in the face of her father's death is totally frank, yet, in "River of Life," she answers the question of how she deals with dying in her job as a nurse, saying, "I am filled with joy/for a painless passing/surrounded by love./I feel sadness/for the breaking/of an intimate bond."

from Donna Snyder: El Paso Times: Hospice nurse-poet uniquely qualified to write about death

As the American Poet Jimmy Santiago Baca (Born in 1952) puts it: 'When you work at a poem long enough--if you just do that one poem and don't worry about anything else--that the imagery of one verse line exudes a sparkling fountain of energy that fills your heart". By making us stop for a movement, poetry gives us an opportunity to think about ourselves as human beings on this planet and what we mean to each other.

Sublime poetry gives us revelations, flashes which illuminate those things which are mysterious to us. Victor Hernandez Cruz is a Puerto Rican poet, who was born in 1949 in Aguas Buenas, Puerto Rico.

from V Sundaram: News Today: Why do we need to read great poems?--I

Bill Moyers declares in his introduction 'Poets live the lives all of us live with one big difference. They have the power--the power of the word--to create a world of thoughts and emotions others can share. We only have to learn to listen . . . Democracy needs her poets, in all their diversity because our hope for survival is in recognizing the reality of one another's lives'.

The setting in which Bill Moyers has interviewed great American Poets like W S Merwin, Claribel Alergria, James A Autry, James Santiago Baca, Coleman Barks, Robert Bly, Lucille Clifton, William Stratford, Victor Hernandez Cruz, Rita Dove, Carolyn Forche, Donald Hall, Joy Harjo, Adrienne Rich, Stanley Kunitz, Li-Young Lee, Linda McCarriston, Octavio Paz etc. is the Dodge Poetry Festival in New Jersy's Historic Village of Waterloo. Bill Moyers says that during the 1994 Dodge Poetry Festival he came upon thousands of poetry lovers, from a score of States, having the best time of their lives.

from V Sundaram: News Today: Why do we need to read great poems?--II

"Yes," I said to myself. "That's exactly what is on display here." And so I made my way back, reveling in the wondrous all and nothing Bonnard had managed to capture. In the meantime, my mind had automatically made one of those associative leaps it does so well on its own: It reminded me of something I had read on the bus trip to Manhattan. It was in Josef Pieper's The Silence of St. Thomas: " . . . it is part of the very nature of things that their knowability cannot be exhausted by any finite intelligence . . . the very element which makes them capable of being known must necessarily be at the same time the reason why things are unfathomable."

from Frank Wilson: When Falls the Coliseum: That's What He Said: The wondrous all and nothing

By Khalil

from CounterPunch: Poets' Basement: Khalil and Mankh

By Glynn Tiller

He sees scars on the face of the lake

from Express-News: Poetry: 'From the Pit to the Bells'

This week's Poetry Corner features the work of Jim Powell, the author of "It Was Fever That Made The World" and the translator of "The Poetry Of Sappho" and "Catullan Revenants." He was awarded a CCLM Younger Poets Prize in 1986 and a MacArthur Fellowship (1993-1998), and was the Sherry Poet and Lecturer at the University of Chicago in 2005. He is a fourth generation native and lifelong resident of the San Francisco Bay Area. see poems . . .


from Good Times Weekly: Poetry Corner: Belly, Bass, Again, Wood, Smaller

The Fox and the Girl by Gillian Clarke

from The Guardian: The Saturday poem: The Fox and the Girl by Gillian Clarke

Forgotten Fountain
by W. S. Merwin

from The New Yorker: Poetry: Forgotten Fountain

by Ange Mlinko

from The New Yorker: Poetry: Treatment

[by Melissa Madenski]

My friend no longer

from The Oregonian: Poetry: Daily News

By Carl Phillips

Now the leaves rush, greening, back. Back now,
the leaves push greenward. --Some such song, or

from PBS: Newshour: Weekly Poem: 'To Drown in Honey'

[by Patricia Jabre]

Still Morning

I I stir in bed

from Portsmouth Herald News: Poem: Still Morning

This poem by Scotland's National Poet takes us directly into that experience of clarity that comes when scaffolding is taken down, a feeling city dwellers will identify with. The Edwin Morgan Archive at the Scottish Poetry Library formally opens on 27 April, Morgan's birthday. It contains over 2,500 items, including A Book of Lives (Carcanet, £9.95) from which this poem is taken.

The scaffolding has gone. The sky is there!

from The Scotsman: Poem of the Week

"Eurydice: 1887"
the flax spinners of Laren, spinning in the old tradition, as painted by Max Liebermann
By Avery Slater

from Slate: "Eurydice: 1887" --By Avery Slater

When friends' infant daughter, Natalie Joy Hertel-Voisine, died suddenly, I knew that a child's death is beyond words. I wished I were a painter or a composer when, in response to my "Let me know what I can do," my devastated friends immediately responded, "Write a poem."

I knew that for her elegy to mean anything to them, it would have to speak to the powerful physicality of a parent's relationship with a young child and, in particular, the goofy, sweet physicality of Natalie's own spirit.

I thought of the extraordinary notes by Stéphane Mallarmé that make up "A Tomb for Anatole," which Paul Auster had assembled and translated. Mallarmé's son Anatole, sickly throughout his brief life, died at 8 years old, and the fragments Auster assembled were discontinuous and truncated notes toward a text the French poet had never written.

from The Washington Post: Poet's Choice: Susan Wheeler on 'Song for the Spirit of Natalie Going'

Poetic Obituaries

[Deborah Digges] oldest son, Charles, said he "strongly questions" whether his mother's death was a suicide. She often exercised at the stadium, no one saw exactly what happened and she left no note, he said.

"Given that much of her work is a celebration of life and nature, I feel the circumstances of her death are inconclusive," he said.

Digges, who lived in Amherst, joined the English faculty at Tufts University in Medford, Mass., in 1986 after publishing her first collection of poems, "Vesper Sparrows." It won New York University's Delmore Schwartz Memorial Prize for best first book of poetry.

from Los Angeles Times: Deborah Digges, distinguished poet and memoirist, dies at 59

[June Fulbrook] travelled widely in Europe and was one of the founder members of the Henley Poetry Group. With a continuing passion for education, she attended classes at Henley College. She had a particular interest in local history, even in her seventies.

She celebrated her 75th birthday by attending the WOMAD festival in Reading.

from Henley on Thames: Teacher with zest for life

Like his legendary Guru, [Kalamandalam] Kesavan too has displayed his prowess in vocal music, in the composition of new Kathakali plays, histrionics and even in poetry.

He has, many a time, handled the role of vocalist in Kathakali performances. Of the umpteen new plays he has composed over a long period of time, 'Ekalavyacharitam' and 'Sohrab and Rustom' have won the admiration of viewers for their theatrical panache and thematic novelty. Among his poems, 'Karkotakan' has some memorable lines.

from Kerala online: Kalamandalam Kesavan passes away

[Mary Lucille Streacker Miller] taught in Vigo, Parke, and Greene Counties. She was a chapter member of the Terre Haute Writers Club and the Poets Study Club which were active in the 1940's. Her hobby was writing. Her poetry, stories and children's plays often appeared in children's magazines in her working years.

from The Tribune Star: Mary Lucille Streacker Miller

Sources said that family members of Bantu [Mwaura], who was also a renowned thespian, director, poet and storyteller, had reported him missing on Friday. Bantu was a respected poet whose work in English, Kiswahili and Gikuyu has been published in several journals.

from The Standard: Human rights activist Bantu Mwaura found dead
also Global Voices Online: The News of Bantu Mwaura's death shocks Kenyan bloggers

[Franklin Rosemont] published several volumes of poetry: he is a relatively minor poet, exceeded by the work of Penelope and other figures in the Chicago group, but Rosemont, laudably, never saw his writing about surrealism as being separable from his practice as a surrealist. He insisted, even as older groups were struggling, that surrealism remained a viable revolutionary mode of poetic life. Less well-known than the anthology of Breton's writings is its introduction, published separately in Britain as André Breton and the First Principles of Surrealism. In this he insisted that surrealism is not "a mere literary or artistic school," but "an unrelenting revolt against a civilisation that reduces all human aspirations to market values, religious impostures, universal boredom and misery."

from World Socialist Web Site: Franklin Rosemont (1943-2009): Leading US surrealist and anthologist of André Breton dies

Gayle Ronan Sims, 61, of Merion, who lyrically described the lives of the famous, the infamous and the ordinary as an Inquirer obituary writer, died April 16 of multiple organ failure following a double lung transplant.

This weekend, at its convention in Charlotte, N.C., the Society of Professional Obituary Writers (SPOW) plans to announce the creation of a special award named for Ms. Sims, to be given only occasionally to writers of the highest dedication and distinction.

from The Philadelphia Inquirer: Inquirer obituary writer Gayle Ronan Sims dies

Among these, Shahriar had the greatest influence on the teenager Bijan [Taraqqi (or Bijan Taraghi)], and inspired him to write his first collection of poems "The Song of Fall". Taraqqi's other poetry collections are "A Window to Garden", "Fire Remaining from the Caravan" and "Behind the Walls of Memories".

Taraqqi began his collaboration with Radio Iran in 1954, and many of the great composers of that time, among them Ruhollah Khaleqi, Parviz Yahaqi, Ali Tajvidi, and Homayun Khorram, asked him to write lyrics for their compositions.

from Payvand Iran News: Iranian songwriter Bijan Taraqqi dies at 80

[Deborah Thompson] took great pleasure in cooking for family and friends, writing poetry, and listening to classic country music.

from Foster's Daily Democrat: Deborah Thompson


News at Eleven

"My whole existence has been the merest Romance," [Edgar Allan] Poe wrote, the year before his death, "in the sense of the most utter unworldliness." This is Byronic bunk. Poe's life was tragic, but he was about as unworldly as a bale of cotton. Poe's world was Andrew Jackson's America, a world of banking collapse, financial panic, and grinding depression that had a particularly devastating effect on the publishing industry, where Poe sought a perch.

from The New Yorker: The Humbug

Two generations ago every educated person could have continued from memory any of these lines from The Rubaiyat:

"Awake, for Morning in the Bowl of Night . . .

A Book of Verses underneath the Bough . . .

The Moving Finger Writes; and, having writ . . .

Myself when young did eagerly frequent . . .

Ah, Moon of my Delight that know'st no wane . . ."

But something has gone wrong. [Edward] FitzGerald, far from being recognised as a leading poet, has been disregarded by the literary establishment. There could be several reasons for this. Has the poem proved too popular for its own good? Is it perhaps lightweight doggerel quickly seen through by experts? Does its origin (in translation) invalidate it as an independent work? Is The Rubaiyat affected by the way poetry is taught nowadays, with a ban on learning anything by heart?

from Telegraph: The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam by Edward FitzGerald

More recently, [August] Kleinzahler whacked the admired poet-critic Adam Kirsch, calling him and his contemporary William Logan "wannabe poets, reactionary buffoons", among other insults (in the Paris Review, in 2007). Logan shrugs it off lightheartedly: "He has every right to be vituperative. If I were August, I'd burst a gasket two or three times a day." Others have wondered whether Kleinzahler, whose father worked in real estate and sent his son to the elite Horace Mann school in New York, assumes a bad-boy mask shaped for the authentically pock-marked features of Charles Bukowski or Gregory Corso. To Kirsch, the "roughneck persona" appears to be "the product of a persistent American neurosis about poetry and art being unmasculine. To compensate for their presumed loss of masculine status, certain writers make alcohol and fighting part of their literary persona."

from The Guardian: Writing in the realm of fire: August Kleinzahler

The head of a Saudi literary forum received death threats for hosting a woman poet in one of the forum's seminars, local press reported Saturday.

Ibrahim al-Hamid, head of al-Jawf Literary Forum, hosted poet Halima Mozafar and two other male poets in the two separate halls in the Prince Abdulellah cultural center. The seminar was attended by al-Jawf Police Chief and a considerable number of security officers, the Saudi newspaper al-Watan reported Sunday.

from Al Arabiya News: Saudi literary forum head receives death threats

The Slovakian PEN Centre, part of PEN International, criticised Slovakian magazine Dotyky "from an ethical and moral point of view" for publishing [Radovan] Karadzic's poetry earlier this month without any editorial commentary about his background while he is "indicted for war crimes in connection with the 1990s Bosnian conflict, including crimes against humanity".

Dotyky magazine is published by the Slovakian Writers Association. Its editor Boris Brendza is a member of the Slovakian PEN centre, which said in an official statement that it would punish him for publishing the poems by withdrawing his membership for one year.

from The Guardian: PEN condemns publication of Karadzic poems
from The Guardian: Books Blog: Should PEN condemn Radovan Karadzic's poetry?

[W. S. Merwin] said that he always looked to be taken by surprise--"surprise that it happens at all and surprise that it works and that it's complete." After writing several new poems, he continued, "I suddenly think there are quite a few poems and I want to see if they have any relation to each other and begin to see what order they might be in and see if they really come to a collection. I wouldn't make any rules about how it happens any more than you can do about what makes a birdsong complete or anything else."

from The New York Times: Paper Cuts: Pleased by His Pulitzer, Surprised by Poetry
also Peninsula Daily News: Port Townsend publisher's poet wins Pulitzer Prize

In an effort to make these classic dramas user-friendly, [Anne] Carson serves up colloquialisms. She has the Chorus tell Agamemnon, "I wrote you off as a loose cannon." Her Orestes calls Hermione "the little bitch," and the Phrygian slave quips, "Helen screwed Greece as well as Troy." Some of Carson's rhyming comes off as cheesy: Helen is "that wife of strife," Paris is "the bridegroom of doom."

In my opinion, the street-talk gamble seldom pays off: Greek tragedy achieves many of its effects through its majestic diction.

from The Afterword: An Oresteia, translated by Anne Carson

In one exercise, he plagiarized a translation of Lucretius by Sully Prudhomme, but considerably improved it in the process. In another, he fashioned a subtly erotic evocation of the graceful young carpenter of Nazareth from a bland poem whose author, says Guyaux, has not been identified. (It was a Vendean poet called Eugène Mordret, who had published "Le Christ à la scie" in the prestigious Revue contemporaine.) The "scholâ" changed, but Rimbaud continued to write poems as though they were exercises. Even the notorious "Sonnet du trou du cul" was a cunning pastiche of another poet, a technically irreproachable example of the traditional blason enumerating a lover's charms.

from The Times Literary Supplement: Rimbaud in the Pléiade

Today, [C.P.] Cavafy is well known for writing what might initially seem like two kinds of poems. Beginning in 1911, he wrote poems depicting homosexual desire with an unsensational directness: "They were slow getting dressed, they were sorry to cover/the beauty of their supple nudity/which harmonized so well with the comeliness of their faces." At the same time, he wrote poems about Greek history--not the well-known glories of the classical era but the long decline that finally concluded with the collapse of the Byzantine Empire: "He wasn't completely wrong, poor old Gemistus/(let Lord Andronicus and the patriarch suspect him if they like),/in wanting us, telling us to become pagan once again."

from The New York Times: A Poet's Progress

I love how [James] Merrill comes face-to-face with his mixed feelings about the changing city, with its simultaneous destruction and creation. He seems as upset about what's been torn down as he is at not being able to remember what was there in the first place. It's a quintessential response to the evolving cityscape--and a helpful thing to recall when your favorite little store turns into another bank branch.

Now for the art. If Merrill freezes the frame in the destruction phase of construction, Brooklyn-based photographer Stanley Greenberg--whose photographs are shown here--arrives at the scene a few months later, after a building has become recognizable, but long before its completion.

from WNYC: Cityscapes: Art & Poetry

The assembly of poets this week--during National Poetry Week--marks the fourth biennial gathering of state poets and writers laureate, of which there are 40. Each serves as his or her state's official ambassador for the written word.

Lisa Starr, Rhode Island's poet laureate, organized this year's Poetry for Hope meeting in collaboration with regional tourism offices, the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts and the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities.

from The Providence Journal: Well-versed poets visit schools in R.I.

Great Regulars

These latter began life as parodies of the vogue for François Villon, but very quickly transformed into something more topical and anarchic. Take these lines from "Ballade of a Stoic": "My mother's favourite chapel is in flames;/My father's best cashier is going blind;/My niece is mad; my nephew's name is James;/My aunt is murdered--and I do not mind." WS Gilbert is a strong influence here, but there's also Lewis Carroll.

from Charles Bainbridge: The Guardian: Collected Poetry, Part II

Written from the 1960s through to the 90s, [Larissa] Miller's poems are remarkable for their directness and apparent simplicity: "Everything happened that could/and which it was impossible to believe". And, at times, her extraordinary lyrics seem to conjure the experience of a whole generation--"They waited days, they waited years/for the right weather, for freedom,/they waited, believing in miracles"--the poem building to its bleak finale: "and while we were waiting for heaven/the damp earth awaited us".

from Charles Bainbridge: The Guardian: Guests of Eternity

[John Giorno's] poetry in the 1960s interwove to great effect extracts from adverts, newspaper articles, gay pornography and reports from the Vietnam war. In "Freaked", for example, a description of a soldier dying from phosphorous burns--"'Somebody shoot me!' he yelled uncontrollably"--is interspersed with extracts from a geometry textbook and with language drawn from the most trivial sources: "May we have/your name/for our mailing list?"

from Charles Bainbridge: The Guardian: Subduing Demons in America

In spite of his capacious intellect, James [Wright] and his wife Annie were like the two ponies in his poem, shy and awkward, preferring to roam the sun-filled fields in nearby Kennett Square, Pa., with me and my husband and two other friends.

My son, then 7 years old, sat on a stump while James sang him the Swedish Chef's song from Sesame Street.

from Fleda Brown: Traverse City Record-Eagle: On Poetry: Immediacy of experience

Moonlight, plantlife, water: Alice Oswald has made these subjects her own, and she turns to them again in two superb new collections, both published this month. The first, A Sleepwalk on the Severn, is a meditation on the five stages of moonrise: "new moon, half moon, full moon, no moon, moon reborn". In the second, Weeds and Wild Flowers, Oswald has collaborated with the artist Jessica Greenman to produce an outlandish field guide, in which bright-coloured plates are replaced by queerly beautiful etchings and scrupulous descriptions exchanged for visionary poems

from Sarah Crown: The Guardian: In brilliant moonlight

Turns out Jo [McSweeney] knew more than she believed she knew, at least as far as Tim Appelo, in an article he crafted for the online edition of the American Poetry Foundation, "Desire to Burn," views it, the self-same one wherein he muses upon the notion that [Kurt] Cobain may well have died "because he misread a poem."

from Judith Fitzgerald: The Globe and Mail: In Other Words: "Here we are now, entertain us"

[by Lenore Langs]

Song for the Third Millennium

from Judith Fitzgerald: The Globe and Mail: In Other Words: In celebration of planetary poetry month 15

[by Irving Layton]


from Judith Fitzgerald: The Globe and Mail: In Other Words: In celebration of planetary poetry month 16

Poetry by itself may not change the world; poets are powerless to prevent the massacres in Darfur, end child abuse or cure multiple sclerosis. But poetry can and does mightily affect individual consciences, individual perceptions, individual memories. Collectively, who knows what sort of butterfly effect that has? Indeed, in refutation of Auden, I'd argue that the very fact of that poem alone, that it is read, studied and anthologised, that being moved, he moves others, is itself sufficient refutation. [--Martin Levin]

from Judith Fitzgerald: The Globe and Mail: In Other Words: In celebration of planetary poetry month 17

[by rob mclennan]

1. is for ______

from Judith Fitzgerald: The Globe and Mail: In Other Words: In celebration of planetary poetry month 18

The speaker's claims, at first, seem paradoxical, when he says, "I am displeased with the company of friends," but the reason for this displeasure is that to his friends his "bad qualities appear to be good." They even mistakenly accept his "faults as virtues." The speaker does not want to be told lies about his qualities; he realizes that if he is not aware of his faults, he will not be able to correct them. Therefore, he wants to know, "where is the bold and quick enemy/To make me aware of my defects?"

from Linda Sue Grimes: Persian Poet Moslih Eddin Saadi

The speaker seems to think he is flattering the woman by telling her she has the same sexual desire that he does, and he also flatters his own ego by telling her that not only does she have the sexual desire, she also has him and his desire. In his mind, she is thrice blessed: she has her own "will," she has his "will," and she has him, who is "Will," itself.

from Linda Sue Grimes: Shakespeare Sonnet 135

It is "for love" that he becomes a suitor in order to "fulfil" the desires of the lady--her lust, and his own lustful desires. He is, of course, rationalizing his lust again, but this time focusing more squarely on her own lust than his. He is somewhat an innocent who is merely willing to accompany the lady on her journey to lust fulfillment, he playfully suggests.

from Linda Sue Grimes: Shakespeare Sonnet 136

The speaker continues musing through questions: he wonders why his heart can be captured by a woman who behaves as a common prostitute. He wonders why he allows a tempting face, which he knows to be "foul," to lure him as if it were a model of "fair truth."

He is, of course, again answering his own questions even as he asks them. The riddle of human behavior always shows that that behavior moves like a pendulum between good and evil.

from Linda Sue Grimes: Shakespeare Sonnet 137

Again because of the discipline of concentration, the speaker's soul can "constantly hum" the name of the Divine Beloved in all activities that engage the speaker, "waking, eating, working, dreaming, sleeping,/Serving, meditating, chanting, divinely loving." No matter what he does or where he goes, his mind remains focused one-pointedly on the Divine.

from Linda Sue Grimes: Yogananda's God! God! God!

Poets who self-publish trace their lineage to--well, to William Blake, at least--but more recently to Allen Ginsberg, who paid to have something like 25 early copies of Howl printed on a mimeograph machine. My collection, titled Obsolete, is like a book in some ways, but it's also kind of a zine. These things aren't always easy to define--mainly because they don't have to be.

Poetry is especially well-suited to these kinds of projects. Amanda Laughtland, another zine friend of mine, lives in Seattle, where she makes her poetry journal, Teeny Tiny, from one sheet of paper, cunningly folded into eighths (

from Katie Haegele: The Philadelphia Inquirer: How a local poet publishes, from zines to the Internet

It surpassed any other wave of crackdowns and intimidations in our history. Thousands were jailed, including journalists and filmmakers. Under the mood of paranoia and patriotism advanced by the "progressive" President Wilson, vigilantes, many sanctioned by the U.S. Justice Department, harassed, beat and in a few cases, killed those suspected of disloyalty.

Many others were illegally deported, including radicals Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman, the man who tried to kill Henry Clay Frick during the Homestead steel turmoil in 1892.

from Bob Hoover: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Three books cover attack on individual rights in America during early to mid-20th century

Fighting with rocks and clubs made unsightly marks on men and left putrefying sores. They squatted around the smoking fires, put ashes on their wounds, exchanged myths, and felt a terrible ache for love and affection.

They longed to see women exhibit an avid interest in them for their own merits and not have to go marauding against enemy tribes and stand toe to toe with their warriors and hack at them and bash their brains out and eviscerate and decapitate them and drag their women away screaming and sobbing. A lousy way of dating, especially as you, the winner, have plenty of hack marks on you and are not so interested in sex now, due to loss of blood.

from Garrison Keillor: The Norman Transcript: The poet gets the girl

After the Ice Storm My Son Does Not Come Home
by Diane Lockward

Hours after he stormed out, wind knocks

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: After the Ice Storm My Son Does Not Come Home by Diane Lockward

by Diane Lockward

Deep-blue hue of the body, silvery bloom

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: Blueberry by Diane Lockward

Field Guide
by Billy Collins

No one I ask knows the name of the flower

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: Field Guide by Billy Collins

Life Story
by Tennessee Williams

After you've been to bed together for the first time,

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: Life Story by Tennessee Williams

Return I
by Elisabeth Stevens

When I am traveling,

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: Return I by Elisabeth Stevens

To This May
by W. S. Merwin

They know so much more now about

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: To This May by W. S. Merwin

by James Tate

The man that was following me looked like a government

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: Treason by James Tate

The fact that Taha Muhammad Ali is a gifted poet and a very appealing personality--[Adina] Hoffman writes of his ability to charm Arab, Jewish, and American audiences alike--makes him easy for the reader to care about. But it does not make his fate inherently more significant than those of hundreds of thousands of other Palestinians who suffered the same injuries. Here, in fact, lies the main trouble with Hoffman's book: she is writing about one man, but she is really interested in what she calls, with polemical exaggeration, "the Palestinian century."

Thus she devotes much of the first half of the book to recounting the Jewish-Arab clashes of the 1930s and 1940s, culminating in Israel's War of Independence. By focusing on Saffuriyya and its people, Hoffman makes the human costs of this conflict come to life, and she clearly means to confront American and Jewish readers with the facts of Palestinian suffering. But this Saffuriya-centric approach also allows Hoffman to neglect the larger history of the war and the period, and to portray Israel as the aggressor in what was in fact a war in defense of its very existence. Her retrospective indignation is not the best lens through which to view this complex history.

from Adam Kirsch: Nextbook: The Reader: A Life Between Lines

We've published this column about American life for over four years, and we have finally found a poem about one of the great American pastimes, bowling. "The Big Lebowski" caught bowling on film, and this poem by Regan Huff of Georgia captures it in words.

Occurrence on Washburn Avenue

from Ted Kooser: American Life in Poetry: Column 212

"I think very few people can manage free verse," wrote the poet W. H. Auden. "You need an infallible ear, like D. H. Lawrence, to determine where the lines should end." How true. Knowing where to end the line is, in fact, one of the most crucial elements for writing poetry without the use of an established metrical pattern.

Formal verse has its own inherent challenges, of course, but when you are writing in the common metrical form of iambic pentameter, for example, you at least know where to stop the line.

from Anthony Maulucci: Norwich Bulletin: On Poetry: Managing free verse can be difficult without control

"I was looking after her one rainy Cambridge summer when she was pushing 100," Ms. [Ruth] Padel said of her grandmother. "She had lost her short-term memory, but her long-term memory was very keen. She politely asked me what I was working on, which at the time was my Ph.D. thesis at Oxford, about images of emotion in Greek poetry. 'That's very interesting,' she said, and then started talking about Darwin's book about the expression of emotion in man and animals. Five minutes later she'd ask me again and she'd have a completely different association with Darwin. It was like talking to a highly intelligent drunken ghost. She talked a lot about Charles and Emma and how it gave them both such pain that his ideas were leading him away from belief, and I thought, 'My God, I'd like to write that story someday.' "

from Charles McGrath: The New York Times: Darwin's Descendant, on Origin of Poetry

One of the biggest growth areas in higher education these days is creative writing. In 1975, there were 52 degree-granting writing programs in American colleges and universities, and in 2004 there were more than 300. In his new book, "The Program Era: Postwar Fiction and the Rise of Creative Writing," Mark McGurl, an associate professor of English at the University of California, Los Angeles, suggests that for this to happen in an era when American education has generally become more practical and vocational is not quite as odd as it seems.

from Charles McGrath: The New York Times: The Ponzi Workshop

The good poem kisses me and promises a second read and another date. I look for work that is memorable- the after taste that lingers or the nakedness that seduces again. Visual beauty is important. Control on the page. Order and clarity.I also want to inhale a degree of freshness. The good poem surprises me like magic or a one night affair. I want to take something away with me -even if it's just a fragrance.

from E. Ethelbert Miller: First Person Plural: An Interview with E. Ethelbert Miller

I Imagine One Day I Will Join Them

I was walking down the street this morning

from E. Ethelbert Miller: E-Notes: I Imagine One Day I Will Join Them

You've Really Got A Hold On Me

I'm trying to write this in falsetto.

from E. Ethelbert Miller: E-Notes: You've Really Got A Hold On Me

On the other hand, perhaps it would be better to be a GP. That way, I might feel more in the swim of ordinary life. If I could see, in the eyes of my patients, the gleam of gratitude I've often felt for my doctor when he's sorted me out, I'd be able to lie down at the end of the day feeling, in Keats's phrase, I'd chosen a path which allowed me to "[do] the world some good".

from Andrew Motion: The Guardian: My other life
also Andrew Motion: The Guardian: Andrew Motion on being poet laureate

Two of Burma's leading comedians, known for their edgy political humor and barbs aimed at the military regime, say they've found a way around a ban that keeps them from performing in public.

"We perform for tourists at home," Lu Maw, of the Moustache Brothers comedy team, said in an interview. "Last night there were nine tourists, and the day before there were five. They will come again today as well."

from Luisetta Mudie: Radio Free Asia: Comedians Work Around Ban

Compounded or compacted terms [used by Gerard Manley Hopkins] like "darksome" and "lionlimb" are expressive in a way that seems the opposite of [Edward] Thomas' "unable to rejoice" and "others could not": the power of explosive compression, forcing meanings together, rather than the unfolding power of directness. Hyper-concentrated phrases, strong words and accents forced together, convey struggle and tension, as of mighty industrial springs and chemical reactions barely contained.

from Robert Pinsky: Slate: The Calm and the Restless

It is a stiller poem than many, but somehow more frightening, in its sullen concentration, than those that relish forceful brutal movement, in which bodies enjoy at least some level of release. The Language School drops into the pit of numbness and silence. The reader knows that the trap has been dug long before the prisoner reached the courtroom.

Tim Liardet's next full collection, The Storm House, is due from Carcanet in 2011. Grateful thanks to Seren Books, and to the author for permission to reproduce The Language School.

The Language School

from Carol Rumens: The Guardian: Books blog: Poem of the week: The Language School

This area offers renowned journals such as the American Poetry Review and a whole raft of vibrant Web sites for poetry and literature, such as the Fox Chase Review and the Wild River Review. Besides its series of readings by the world-famous, the Free Library also offers Monday Poets, a reading series/open-mike (where all comers can read), on the first Monday of every month from October to April. It's in the Skyline Room of the Central Library, which, says coordinator Amy Thatcher, "has got to have the best view of Center City" in town. For next year, she's looking for good poets from all over the area.

from John Timpane: Philadelpia Inquirer: Philly poetry scene offers variety of venues for verse

This one goes out to all the physicists I've known over the years. It's a response, in a way, to the sort of college class named something like "Physics for Poets," as if poetry were the furthest thing from a hard science like physics you could possibly imagine.

from Andrew Varnon: Flash & Yearn: Poetry for Physicists

So blogging, oddly enough, has reinforced my natural tendency toward economy in writing. I say "oddly" because there is nothing about writing online that would seem to make this necessary. You can keep writing away indefinitely in the hope that people will keep scrolling indefinitely.

I suspect that is a vain hope. There seems to me--and I know I am not alone in this--a natural limit to what can be comfortably read at one sitting on a screen.

from Frank Wilson: When Falls the Coliseum: That's What He Said: What blogging can teach a writer

The Future
By Peter Buknatski

a reason to keep breathing,

from CounterPunch: Poets' Basement: Moser, McTeer and Buknatski

By Nora M. Olivares -

In these tough economic times

from Express-News: Poetry: 'Twitter'


by Henrietta Goodman

When he rows out to collect the geese,

from Guernica: Poetry: Canada

A pause for poetry: 'Hitchcock'

By B.H. Fairchild

Before the lights went out, looking back

from The Kansas City Star: Between the Lines: A pause for poetry: 'Hitchcock'

Let the Record Show
by Dora Malech

from The New Yorker: Poetry: Let the Record Show

A Modern Greek Folk Song
by Anonymous

from The New Yorker: Poetry: A Modern Greek Folk Song

Sketch for a Novel
by Franz Wright

from The New Yorker: Poetry: Sketch for a Novel

[Nathalie Handal:] They're like, "Oh, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania." And I'm like, "No, Palestine." They're like, "Oh, Pakistan."

This next poem is called "Blue Hours." And it really reflects all countries and all the languages that are now part of me, but never forgetting where I'm from.

"Blue Hours."

from PBS: Newshour: Well-traveled Poet Finds Consistency in Words

This poem by Diana Hendry from her new collection, Late Love & Other Whodunits (Peterloo/Mariscat, £7.95), perfectly captures that strange feeling of bereftness that descends upon us when a loved one goes away, even if just for a few days.

You, Going Away

from The Scotsman: Poem of the Week

T'ao Ch'ien (365-427) was the first major Chinese poet to speak in a direct personal voice about the full range of his immediate experience. This is the voice that came to typify the Chinese tradition, and it is why classical Chinese poetry has felt so contemporary to American readers. T'ao lived in relative poverty on a quiet farm, but when this poem was written he was living in a nearby village where he encountered the kind of noise that modern urban-dwellers take for granted. For Chinese poets, wine was a way of easing the urge to extract meaning from the world, and what interests me most about this drinking poem is the ending, with its skepticism about language, and all the possibility that offers.

from The Washington Post: Poet's Choice by David Hinton: 'Drinking Wine' by T'ao Ch'ien

Poetic Obituaries

[Iqbal Bano] was considered a specialist in singing the works of Faiz Ahmed Faiz. She has given such musical relevance to the ghazals of Faiz, that Bano and Faiz are apparently inseparable in popular imagination.

Because of Faiz's imprisonment and hatred of the Pakistani Government towards him, Bano roused a strong crowd of 50,000 people in Lahore by singing his passionate Urdu nazm, "Hum Dekhenge."

Iqbal Bano can sing Persian ghazals with the same fluency as Urdu. She is always applauded in Iran and Afghanistan for her Persian ghazals.

Her recitals stick to the old classical style that lays more stress on the raag purity. Basically a ghazal singer, Iqbal Bano has also sung many memorable Pakistani film songs.

from Associated Press of Pakistan: Subcontinent's great singer Iqbal Bano passes away

[Betty] Barta was a lifelong poet. She delighted in gardening--growing large vegetable gardens on the farm and in her later years, perfectly manicured flower gardens, family members said. Drawing and embroidering were additional pastimes, as well as caring for her beloved cat, Chester.

from The Gothenburg Times: Betty Barta, 77

A loving mother, she [Lorraine Bridget Boudry] was also an accomplished musician, playing the electric steel guitar, piano, organ and omni chord. She was a published poet and creative writer. Lorraine also loved to dance. She was known for her "Y" dance.

from Fond du Lac Reporter: Lorraine Bridget Boudry

Mrs. [Barbara Anne] Byrnes remained at Wheaton Central and its successor school, Wheaton Warrenville South High School, until retiring in 2003.

When not teaching, Mrs. Byrnes enjoyed writing poems, with several being published in the College of DuPage's Prairie Light magazine and others in an academic publication, English Journal.

from Chicago Tribune: Barbara Anne Byrnes, 1943-2009: English teacher at Wheaton high schools

[Deborah Digges] won the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Prize from New York University for her first book, "Vesper Sparrows," and the Kingsley Tufts Prize for her 1995 book "Rough Music." She grew up in Missouri.

Other books by Digges include the memoir "Fugitive Spring," published by Knopf in 1989, and "The Stardust Lounge," a volume described as stories about a boy's adolescence, published by Random House in 2000.

"Deborah was a person who always saw the world in terms of creativity," said Lee Edelman, longtime colleague at Tufts University, where Digges taught. "Anyone reading her work will encounter a mind that is fascinated with the particularities of the world."

from Amherst Bulletin: Admirers remember Deborah Digges, gifted poet

"She told me that it was her greatest dream to read at the Muse,'" said [Amber Coverdale] Sumrall of [Kathleen Flowers]. Soon enough, she was reading regularly at the event. And, in 2007, Flowers was awarded the first ever Chapbook Award at the "Muse," a prize that allowed her to publish a chapbook of her poetry. "Call it Gladness" was published last year.

"She had a real sense of the sacred," said Joe Stroud, one of the most prominent names in the Santa Cruz poetry community, who taught Flowers at Cabrillo College and in many workshops over the years. "Her work was celebratory, introspective, very much engaged in the natural world."

from Santa Cruz Sentinel: Kathleen Flowers, 1964-2009: A teacher of passion, a poet at heart

Nonetheless, everyone who surrounded [Mikhail] Gendelev recognized him from the start as a "great poet."

In 1982, Gendelev served as a military doctor in the First Lebanon War. It was his last experience working as a doctor and resulted in a cycle of poems called "War in the Garden," which put him on the literary map. His poems continued to discuss war for the rest of his life, with lines such as "I would so like to walk out from our speech/walk out in torment and not in human/rather/to take a fiery tire neath my tongue/a pill for entering the asthma of Gaza ever-burning" (taken from "To Arabic Speech," 2004, translated by Boris Dralyuk and David Stromberg).

from The Jerusalem Post: 'I'm a great poet, but if you ask nicely I'll work as a doctor'

[Edward David Gompf] was a lifetime member of the National Library of Poetry, International Poetry Hall of Fame; some poems were set to music, and published in London and other countries overseas. He started writing poetry when his two year old son was killed in an auto accident. He won many awards and trophies and even wrote two Volumes of "Soul Food From The Farm: poetry, and a short book "Positive Side of 75", a book of his life. He also belonged to the American Legion and N.R.A.

from The Marion Star: Edward David Gompf

[June W. MacKnight] was a lover of art and music, and enjoyed theatrical presentations and the symphony. An artistic individual with a gift for drawing and painting, she also wrote extensively as a young woman, and particularly enjoyed writing poetry.

from The Free Lance-Star: June W. MacKnight

[Katie Myers] said she cherished the memory of Ryan putting together a play set for her children.

LeRoy Myers also read a Valentine's Day poem Ryan wrote to his fiancée, Brandy Kinna.

from The Herald-Mail: Hundreds attend service for Ryan Myers

[Nancy K. Piencikowski] enjoyed traveling that included international destinations. Her interests included deer hunting, writing poetry, and meeting the girls for dinner.

from Appleton Post-Crescent: Piencikowski, Nancy K.

Mr. [Franklin] Rosemont pursued multiple avenues of expression. He was a surrealist poet whose collections include "Lamps Hurled at the Stunning Algebra of Ants" and "The Apple of the Automatic Zebra's Eye."

He also drew and created assemblage art, notably a piece titled "Entrance to the Non-Euclidean Zoo" which was shown at Old Town's Gallery Bugs Bunny in a notable 1968 surrealist show.

Capable of "the most incredibly vituperative manifestoes," he produced leaflets that he passed out at demonstrations or on the steps of museums.

from Chicago Tribune: Franklin Rosemont, 1943-2009: Surrealist poet, labor historian
also CounterPunch: The Surreal Life of Franklin Rosemont

[Elizabeth Hickman Smith] was a member of the LDS Church and served in the primary, young womens and relief society and was also a singing mother. She belong to the Rebekah Lodge #17. She loved to write poetry and had one of her poems published in the Relief Society Magazine. She also had a talent for drawing pictures.

from The Spectrum: Erma Elizabeth Hickman Smith

A guitarist, [Melvyn L.] Smith sang with a barbershop quartet, The Round Town Sound. He sailed, built furniture and gardened--the last hobby earning him a certificate of achievement from the National Wildlife Federation. For his wife, he wrote poetry; for his children, "Uncle Wormy" tales that emphasized "the miracle of fun and success through feelings."

from Houston Chronicle: Sugar Land doctor Melvyn Smith


News at Eleven

Word of the problem started spreading across blogs and Twitter on Sunday after Mark R. Probst, the author of "The Filly," a gay western romance for young adults, posted on his blog that several gay romances, including his, had lost their sales rankings on Amazon. Mr. Probst e-mailed Amazon and got a reply that said the company was excluding " 'adult' material from appearing in some searches and best-seller lists."

from The New York Times: Amazon Says Error Removed Listings
also Amazon takes heat for dropping rankings of many gay-themed books
also The Guardian: 'Gay writing' falls foul of Amazon sales ranking system

An Egyptian court has banned a liberal literature journal for running a poem two years ago likening God to a villager who feeds ducks and milks cows, an Egyptian paper reported Wednesday.

The Tuesday ruling by Egypt's administrative court came after a lawyer filed a lawsuit against the journal Ibdaa, or Creativity for publishing a poem titled "On the Balcony of Leila Murad" by a well-known poet Helmi Salem, according to the Al-Ahram daily.

The court said the poem carries "insulting expressions" about God.

from newser: Egyptian journal banned over 'blasphemous' poem

Novelist and critic John Updike also was a poet. His newly published final collection, Endpoint and Other Poems (Knopf, $25), was completed just weeks before his death Jan. 27 at age 76. It deals with aging, death and golf, as well as flying to Florida.

Flying to Florida

from USA Today: Our final measure of Updike in 'Endpoint and Other Poems'
also The SanFrancisco Chronicle: 'Endpoint: And Other Poems,' by John Updike

It wasn't until age 14, when she joined a slam poetry group in New York City, that she really began to develop a passion for the craft.

"That was the first time I caught the bug," said Acevedo, who performed on Saturday night at an Organization of Latin American Students event. She will perform in the 2009 Capitol Funk Showcase on April 26.

"It's not a class, it's not a grade," she said. "At the end of the day, you write because you have something to say."

"Language Lessons" by Elizabeth Acevedo

from The GW Hatchet: Poetic Passion

"Those lines caused a great ruckus," [Frederick] Seidel told me during dinner, ruefully. "I got lots of extraordinarily unpleasant mail." At first, it would seem easy to understand why. In a poem that features an old man having sex with a very young woman, so frank a statement as "A naked woman my age is just a total nightmare" could seem uncomplicatedly cruel, could seem merely cruel. And yet, aging is a nightmare, totally so, a nightmare from which each of us--when we become, inevitably, "the train wreck" the poet has by poem's end--would only too gladly awake.

from The New York Times: Laureate of the Louche

In his complex fidelity to these sources, [Andrew] Motion has steadily demonstrated that the central part of his work is elegy. This is not wholly a matter of choice (as a young man he wrote of his mother's death after she spent several years in a coma following an accident), but you need considerable powers to make the individual story take on the contours of the general fate.

With The Cinder Path, at whose centre lies the death of his father three years ago, ­Motion arrives at a new authority, a sober clarity of method in the expression of love for a man with a "slightly lifted hand/either showing I should stay,/or pushing me away".

from The Sunday Times: The Cinder Path by Andrew Motion

To [Axel] Kaun he [Samuel Beckett] describes language as a veil that the modern writer needs to tear apart if he wants to reach what lies beyond, even if what lies beyond may only be silence and nothingness. In this respect writers have lagged behind painters and musicians (he points to Beethoven and the silences in his scores). Gertrude Stein, with her minimalist verbal style, has the right idea, whereas Joyce is moving in quite the wrong direction, toward "an apotheosis of the word."

Though Beckett does not explain to Kaun why French should be a better vehicle than English for the "literature of the non-word" that he looks forward to, he identifies " offizielles Englisch," formal or cultivated English, as the greatest obstacle to his ambitions. A year later he has begun to leave English behind, composing his new poems in French.

from The New York Review of Books: The Making of Samuel Beckett

[Thom Gunn] wrote dream-vision poems, where he imagined himself as a prisoner, a centaur, an explorer, the last man on Earth; he wrote, more often, clear poems about places and people, set in hospitals, on city streets, on airplanes ("Flying Above California") or in discos, portraying car mechanics, skateboarders, adoptive gay fathers, cautious, affectionate cats. We can find most of them in this spare selection: We can find, too, the tough, manly motorcyclists, "in gleaming jackets trophied with the dust," who reappear now and then throughout the career.

from The SanFrancisco Chronicle: 'Thom Gunn: Selected Poems'

"Look here," Gertrude Stein begins briskly, on the opening track of American Writers, when an anonymous interviewer suggests that her libretto for the opera Four Saints in Three Acts is beyond comprehension, "being intelligible is not what it seems. . . . Everybody has their own English and it is only a matter of anybody getting used to an English, anybody's English, and then it's all right. . . .You mean by understanding that you can talk about it in the way that you have a habit of talking, putting it in other words, but I mean by understanding, enjoyment. If you enjoy it, you understand it, and lots of people have enjoyed it, so lots of people have understood it." Whew!

from The Smithsonian: Voices from Literature's Past

The lack of money in poetry can also make the creation of it seem undemocratic--profits from publications are small, and while poets are paid for live readings, it can be the case that only those who can afford to write without payment, or for very little, produce work. Yet our young poets continue to write, and despite the hardships of cutting it as a poet, the future looks bright for the form.

Quizzing ten of Britain's most successful young poets, it is clear they would be writing no matter what: money or no money, fame or no fame. Why?

from The Times: The Facebook poets: ten rising stars of British poetry

It's every writer's nightmare. You've invested years of blood, sweat and, in my case, HB pencils in the British Library to construct your tale of deep passion and pent-up desire and now--at last--your central characters are edging towards the bedroom. At which point you start to suffer from writer's droop. How are you going to encapsulate the earth-moving wonder, the erotic arousal and tender protectiveness of the longed-for moment?

Imagine this and multiply it by ten when the main character of your novel, The Lady and The Poet, happens to be John Donne, perhaps the greatest erotic love poet in the English language, whose poetry glitters with clever seductiveness, carnal longing and a subversive delight in sex?

from Telegraph: Why is sex so hard to put into words?

Great Regulars

The Gerard Manly Hopkins epigraph that begins "Moon Sighting" is filled with startling music and turns of phrase that are echoed in [Melissa Gurley] Bancks' poem, in which a mother reads to a son who is just learning to speak.

The child speaks the word "moon," but there is the moon in the book, the moon in the sky and the moon in his mouth. The sudden grasp of the interconnectedness becomes a transcendent moment for the boy with the "moon" being lifted out of the "bone house" of language, and the boy being lifted out of his own body--Hopkins' "bone house."

from Walter Bargen: The Post-Dispatch: Mom helps boyreach for the moon

By library, by bookshelf or by bookstore, I call on you to get yourself a book of poems and commit to one poem a week at night just before you drop off. If youth is wasted on the young, let's not waste poetry on the young, too. Reading poetry is a non-electronic, Y1K pastime that'll transport you to that childhood pleasure--transport you, that is, in the full universe of your adult experience--where you can revel in the great questions of humanity such Ogden Nash's why the "Lord in His wisdom made the fly/And then forgot to tell us why."

Stately Verse

from David Biespiel: The Oregonian: Childhood's bedtime ritual of poetry reading overdue for adulthood revival

[Kay] Ryan says, "Poems are transmissions from the depths of whoever wrote them to the depths of the reader. To a greater extent than with any other kind of reading, the reader of a poem is making that poem, is inhabiting those words in the most personal sort of way. That doesn't mean that you read a poem and make it whatever you want it to be, but that it's operating so deeply in you, that it is the most special kind of reading."


from Fleda Brown: Traverse City Record-Eagle: On Poetry: Poem for poetry month

Astute readers, such as Michael W. Higgins, president of Fredericton's St. Thomas University, who has long championed [Margaret] Avison as a true poet who celebrates God and doesn't compromise her art in so doing, will, of course, immediately catch the reference to Mark 8:24 (King James Version) with Avison's pointed quotation marks hugging the phrase "like trees walking," a simile both timely and timeless, given Higgins's abiding reverence for Avison's sapientially attuned verse, which he describes as drawing heavily upon "the Christian narrative, a detailed familiarity with the Scriptures and an enlightened appreciation of doctrine."

from Judith Fitzgerald: The Globe and Mail: On Other Words: Avison's awesome afterlife

This crab-wise approach gets thrown in the pot along with a genuine sorrow at circumstance and weariness with the intellect's downgraded predicament; what's boiling over in this début is a humane love, and a love for humane acts, appropriate to our culturally frightened Present. Some of [A.J.] Levin's poems have a cubist's mania about them that can only lend itself to fresh insight."


from Judith Fitzgerald: The Globe and Mail: On Other Words: In celebration of planetary poetry month 9

K. I. Press, a Winnipeg writer originally from northern Alberta, became a mother for the first time last month. Her most recent work, Types of Canadian Women (Gaspereau, 2006), was shortlisted for the Pat Lowther and ReLit Awards for Poetry. She teaches creative writing and literature at Red River College in Winnipeg. Zachariah Wells: "Press is delightfully irreverent, her writing laced with irony and wit . . . Press handles tone beautifully."


from Judith Fitzgerald: The Globe and Mail: On Other Words: On Other Words: In celebration of planetary poetry month 10

Easter's Poet (April 12):
Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)


from Judith Fitzgerald: The Globe and Mail: On Other Words: On Other Words: In celebration of planetary poetry month 11

(He even writes reviews of [imaginary] films in verse!) [David] McKelvie brings his interest and study of mathematics to his poetry to create a remarkable amalgamation between the two. His use of rhyme--sometimes peculiar, sometimes startling, often sublime--imbues his work with that edge of difference and, in so doing, almost demands it be read aloud so its primeval purely sonic enchantment can be fully appreciated."

Lunar Self-Portrait

from Judith Fitzgerald: The Globe and Mail: On Other Words: On Other Words: In celebration of planetary poetry month 12

[Nancy-Gay Rotstein's] most recent collection, 2005's This Horizon and Beyond: Poems Selected and New, contains "an emotionally charged cycle of poems that, written over a 20-year period and purposely held for publication as a unit, captures the changing stages in a family's life. Throughout, Rotstein's work is suffused with an awareness of time, the realisation that we are living in history and a sensibility that goes beyond the surface of what is being described." (from the publisher)

Eyeing the Shark:
Homage to Irving Layton at Maimonides Geriatric Centre

from Judith Fitzgerald: The Globe and Mail: On Other Words: On Other Words: In celebration of planetary poetry month 13

[Vince Gotera]: Tough question. So many great poets! Even within only the last 100 years, my favorite poet changes from day to day. Today, it's Yusef Komunyakaa, my poetry teacher. He changed my life with one sentence: "Why don't you write about being Filipino?" Then there's Molly Peacock, a consummate artist in rime, meter, and "inherited" forms like the sonnet. Also Elizabeth Bishop, Sylvia Plath, Wilfred Owen, Carlos Bulosan, Lucille Clifton, Garrett Hongo, Denise Duhamel, Marilyn Hacker. All these poets work hard to say something crucial--something important for everyone--in the best possible way. I hope I do that as well.

from Linda Sue Grimes: Interview with Vince Gotera

Emily Dickinson's speaker remains somewhat hazy about what that special light looks like, but she has made it abundantly clear how it makes her feel, and that aspect of the poem endears it to children. The experience of this light affects her so deeply that she cannot describe its physical appearance but only the strange influence it exerts upon her mind and heart.

from Linda Sue Grimes: Poems for Children

He queries, isn't it enough that you torment me? must you also cause my Muse, who is "my sweet'st friend" to suffer?

The speaker is probably finding his musings invaded with thoughts of the mistress, and because of his intense infatuation with her, he feels his creations are suffering. The complaint resembles the one wherein he would chide his Muse for abandoning him, implying that he could not write without her, yet he continued to make poems about that very topic.

from Linda Sue Grimes: Shakespeare Sonnet 133

In sonnet 134, the speaker again is addressing the dark lady, while lamenting her control over his other self. This time the "other self" is not the spiritual persona, not the Muse, but quite specifically he refers to his male member as "he." It is quite a common vulgar traditional part of coarse conversation, and both male and females engage it, often even giving names to their private parts.

from Linda Sue Grimes: Shakespeare Sonnet 134

It might be therapeutic for you, Kyle, but I don't think it would be therapeutic for you and your girlfriend as a couple, especially if you have an argument in limerick form. You will probably rhyme an unflattering term with your girlfriend's name, as she will rhyme an unflattering term with yours: "There once was a jerk named Kyle/ Who smelled like a garbage pile/ grotesque bile/ a dead fish from the Nile." And as the original purpose of rhyme was to enable memorization, you both will have difficulty letting the argument blow over.

from Kristen Hoggatt: The Smart Set: Ask a Poet: There Once Was a Question From Nantucket . . .

[The American Academy of Arts and Letters] is announcing Monday that nine artists have been voted in (openings occur when a member dies). Besides [Richard] Price and [T. Coraghessan] Boyle, inductees include poets Jorie Graham and Yusef Komunyakaa, artist Judy Pfaff, architect Tod Williams and composers Stephen Hartke, Frederic Rzewski and Augusta Read Thomas.

Upon the official ceremony in May, they will enter a 250-member club that has included Henry Adams, Mark Twain and Mark Rothko, and currently features Edward Albee, Philip Glass and Toni Morrison.

from Hillel Italie: Associated Press: Richard Price, T.C. Boyle elected to arts academy

Banking Rules
by James Tate

I was standing in line at the bank and

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: Banking Rules by James Tate

Before the Trip
by Jim Harrison

When old people travel, it's for relief

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: Before the Trip by Jim Harrison

Feeding the New Calf
by Joyce Sutphen

The torso comes out slick and black,

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: Feeding the New Calf by Joyce Sutphen

Keep America Beautiful
by Kenneth Hart

Somebody hung out his red, white and blue

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: Keep America Beautiful by Kenneth Hart

Man Eating
by Jane Kenyon

The man at the table across from mine

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: Man Eating by Jane Kenyon

A Prayer for the Self
by John Berryman

Who am I worthless that You spent such pains

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: A Prayer for the Self by John Berryman

The Titanic
by June Robertson Beisch

So this is how it feels, the deck tilting,

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: The Titanic by June Robertson Beisch

The huge risk that [Frederick] Seidel takes is to trust the reader to be able to sense the double meaning in that declaration. Seidel is "hopeless" in the sense of incorrigible, a provocateur who, like Baudelaire, dares us to behold evil and horror and find it compelling. Yet he also allows us to see, again like Baudelaire, that only a genuinely hopeless man would find his own image so accurately reflected in scenes of evil and horror. If sin means being cut off--from other people, from God, from oneself--then no poet has found more effective symbols of the sinner's plight than Seidel, in a poem like "Contents Under Pressure":

from Adam Kirsch: Nextbook: The Reader: Mr. Delicious

Context is everything: by now we've guessed that she has been killed by a rejected lover, and here he is, cheering the new grad like everyone else, though murder is in his smile, and the hand that raises a toast will take a life.

Not every poem is as riveting as this. Some are merely documentary; a certain amount of fact is necessary to push the story forward. In fact, there is little here that stands alone. When I put the book down and walked away, as I had to do more than once, I found myself thinking not of individual poems, as is usually the case, but of an overall effect, a sense of horror mixed with anger and disbelief.

from David Kirby: The New York Times: My Daughter's Murder

Some of you are so accustomed to flying that you no longer sit by the windows. But I'd guess that at one time you gazed down, after dark, and looked at the lights below you with innocent wonder. This poem by Anne Marie Macari of New Jersey perfectly captures the gauziness of those lights as well as the loneliness that often accompanies travel.

From the Plane

from Ted Kooser: American Life in Poetry: Column 211

[Andrew] Motion has perfected the art of excavating his own poems from others' prose. For example, [Harry] Patch records in his memoir how, when asked by a schoolmaster to define a curve, he wrote that it was "a straight line with a bend in it", and took a rap over the knuckles for his wit. Motion borrows the idea, with equal wit, to introduce another Patch anecdote, about scrumping: "A curve is a straight line caught bending/and this one runs under the kitchen window/where the bright eyes of your mum and dad/might flash any minute and find you down/on all fours, stomach hard to the ground,/slinking along a furrow between the potatoes/and dead set on a prospect of rich pickings . . ."

from Carol Rumens: The Guardian: From the ground up

But I also love going back in time, into the opening pages of anthologies, where the poems are still songs (and possibly dances) and no one dwells obsessively on the fact that the daffodils will be wasting away so soon. Since it's spring (cold, grey, sunless, but still spring) as I write, here are two poems for the price of one to brighten your post-Easter week: the 13th-century Cuckoo Song, "Sumer is icumen in", and the 19th-century "Rondeau" by Leigh Hunt. Compare and contrast, or, if that's too much chocolate, savour separately.

from Carol Rumens: The Guardian: Books blog: Poems of the week: spring songs

Enough people, I think, have experienced this "sense sublime/Of something far more deeply interfused" that "rolls through all things"--to borrow from Wordsworth--that it ought not to be dismissed out of hand because it is not subject to scientific verification.

Truth can be arrived at as much by introspection as by dissection. If you quietly observe something--a still life, a junco hopping about in your back yard, a potted geranium atop a crumbling wall--what you observe ceases after a time to be entirely "out there."

from Frank Wilson: When Falls the Coliseum: That's What He Said: Death and the importance of imagination

by Grace Schulman


Seeing, in April, hostas unfurl like arias,

from The Atlantic Monthly: Poetry: Celebration

by Andrew Hudgins

Under the Maypole

Ribbons, pearl and purple,

from The Atlantic Monthly: Poetry: Under the Maypole

by Maxine Kumin

Winter's Tale

Even from my study at the back

from The Atlantic Monthly: Poetry: Winter's Tale

by Gary Corseri

"People must have wings," he says,

from CounterPunch: Poets' Basement: Corseri and Corzett

In 1883, [Joseph] Pulitzer bought the magazine The New York World, according to the Pulizer Web site. The purchase turned out to be the right one, as "sensationalized features" on "public and private corruption" caused the magazine's audience to steadily grow. Within a decade from his purchase, circulation for the paper climbed to 600,000 copies, making it the largest in the country, and making Pulitzer even wealthier than he had been.

from findingDulcinea: Happy Birthday: Happy Birthday, Joseph Pulitzer, Founder of the Pulitzer Prizes


Once I was half flower, half self,

from The Guardian: The Saturday poem: Narcissus by Alice Oswald

Lunch Poem for F.S.
by Jonathan Galassi

from The New Yorker: Poetry: Lunch Poem for F.S.

by Katha Pollitt

from The New Yorker: Poetry: Moth

by D. Nurkse

from The New Yorker: Poetry: Newfane

By C.P. Cavafy, translated and read by Daniel Medelsohn

Half past twelve. The time has quickly passed

from PBS: Newshour: Weekly Poem: 'Since Nine--'

[by Chip Walker]

Get Naked

It's time to return to spears and loincloths

from Portsmouth Herald News: Poem: Get Naked

The inextricable link between our suffering, our sense of celebration and our hopes for healing is concisely and mysteriously captured in this poem by Andrew Philip. It is from his first full collection, The Ambulance Box (Salt, 12.99).

The Ambulance Box

from The Scotsman: Poem of the Week: Andrew Philip

"After the Service, the Widow Considers the Etymology of the Word Salary"
By J. Allyn Rosser

from Slate: "After the Service, the Widow Considers the Etymology of the Word Salary" --By J. Allyn Rosser

William Edmondson, a Nashville stone carver (c. 1874-1951), was the first black artist to have a solo show at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, in 1937. The son of freed slaves, he said he carved by divine inspiration. By the end of his life, over 300 of his remarkable stone carvings of humans, animals and mythological and Biblical figures were in public museums and private collections. This poem is one of 23 that I wrote about his life and work.

from The Washington Post: Poet's Choice: Poet's Choice: Angel with a Pocketbook By Elizabeth Spires

Poetic Obituaries

[Deborah] Digges's writings garnered a wealth of honors, including the Pushcart Prize, and grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. She taught graduate writing classes at New York, Boston, and Columbia universities.

Her first book of poetry, "Vesper Sparrows" won the 1987 Delmore Schwartz Memorial Prize, awarded to the author of the best first book published in the past two years. She also wrote a memoir, "The Stardust Lounge: Stories from a Boy's Adolescence," about her son Stephen's teenage years.

A forthcoming book of poems, "Dance of the Seven Veils" was scheduled to be published this fall, the university said. She was also working on a historical novel based on the life of Sarah Winchester.

from The Boston Globe: Tufts mourns acclaimed poet, professor
also The Republican: Poet, Tufts professor Deborah Digges of Amherst an apparent suicide at UMass stadium
also The Tufts Daily: Deborah Digges, poet and Tufts English professor, dies at 59
also One Poet's Notes: Remembering Deborah Digges

Indeed, some of his [Nicholas Hughes'] colleagues in the School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, worked with him for years without knowing he was the son of two major 20th-century poets.

All that changed on March 16.

It was sunny, the temperature hovering just below zero, and Mr. Hughes seemed in good spirits. For years he had battled depression, as his mother had, and on a recent trip to New Zealand he had even talked of suicide. But he had endured other low periods, leaning on close friends, getting medical help and managing his illness with exercise and regular winter migrations to New Zealand's sunnier climes. At his cabin that afternoon, he drank tea with his girlfriend, Christine M. Hunter.

from The New York Times: A New Chapter of Grief in Plath-Hughes Legacy

[B.M. Idinabba] had also taken active part in pro- Kannada movement and integration of Kasargod into Karnataka along with Kayyara Kinhanna Rai. He also held the post of Chairman of the Kannada Development Authority which was his last political appointment in 2005.

The soft natured Idinabba had participated in the freedom struggle and was also a dedicated Kannada activist. Throughout his life, he fought for development of Kannada language and literature and he had published a collection of poems.

from Mangalorean: Freedom figher Idinabba passes away

[Suma Paz'] most acclaimed works include "La incomparable Suma Paz" (1960), "Guitarra, dimelo tu" (1961), "Una mujer con alma de guitarra" (1970), "Llenar de coplas el campo" (1972), "Para el que mira sin ver" (1982), "Homenaje a Atahualpa Yupanqui" (1994) and "Parte de mi alma" (2005), her last release.

Paz, who was recognized in 2006 with the Leading Personality in Buenos Aires Culture award, also published three books of poetry.

from Latin American Herald Tribune: Argentine Folk Singer Suma Paz Dies

Writer of over 50 published works, Dr [Vishnu] Prabhakaran had written novels, plays and story collections in his lifetime.

A unique characteristic of his works is that it had elements of patriotism, nationalism and messages of social upliftment.

Dr Prabhakar was awarded Padma Bhushan and the Sahitya Akademi Award for his novel Ardhanarishvara (The Androgynous God or Shiva).

He had also won lot of acclaim for his biography ''Awara Maseeha''.

from Top News: Noted writer Vishnu Prabhakar passes away

The author [Mario Rivero] burst onto the Colombian literary scene in 1966 with "Poemas Urbanas" (Urban Poems), a title covering the most ordinary everyday experiences he used to spark the country's urban poetry trend that was just in its beginnings.

This volume of verse was followed by another 13 volumes, including two anthologies and a long interview, which Rivero published in the course of his literary career right up to his final work, "Balada de la Gran Señora" (Ballad of the Great Lady), in 2004.

from Latin American Herald Tribune: Colombian Poet Mario Rivero Passes Away

Franklin Rosemont, celebrated poet, artist, historian, street speaker, and surrealist activist, died Sunday, April 12 in Chicago.

He was 65 years old. With his partner and comrade, Penelope Rosemont, and lifelong friend Paul Garon, he co-founded the Chicago Surrealist Group, an enduring and adventuresome collection of characters that would make the city a center for the reemergence of that movement of artistic and political revolt. Over the course of the following four decades, Franklin and his Chicago comrades produced a body of work, of declarations, manifestos, poetry, collage, hidden histories, and other interventions that has, without doubt, inspired an entirely new generation of revolution in the service of the marvelous.

from Franklin Rosemont 1943-2009

In the late 80s [Ali Bin] Ali Sabra was appointed as a cultural attaché in Yemen's embassy in Jordan where he also supervised the Yemeni information center in Amman.

Ali Sabrah had founded al-Misbah 'Lantern' magazine. He also wrote and published several books and poetry collections. Among them were Yemen's revolution and its historical roots, towards a unified Arab ideology, the Arab issue and the International Zionism, Yemen the Mother Homeland and Blood and Olives Branches.

Sabrah also published two lyrical books entitled Love and War Poems. He also wrote some other books that are underway to be published.

from Yemen Observer: Ali Bin Ali Sabrah poet of love and war

It is difficult to calculate the impact of [Eve Kosofsky] Sedgwick's scholarship, in part because its legacy is still in the making, but also because she worked at a skew to so many fields of inquiry. Feminism, queer theory, psychoanalysis and literary, legal and disability studies--Sedgwick complicated and upended them all, sometimes in ways that infuriated more anodyne scholars, but always in ways that pushed established parameters.

In one of her more audacious insights, Sedgwick proposed two ways of understanding homosexuality: a "minoritizing view" in which there is "a distinct population of persons who 'really are' gay," and a "universalizing view" in which sexual desire is unpredictable and fluid, in which "apparently heterosexual persons. . .are strongly marked by same-sex influences."

from The Nation: Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, 1950-2009

Mari Trini, who was born in Caravaca de la Cruz, Murcia, on July 12, 1947, was a highly popular singer in the 1970s and '80s who came out with 25 albums, some of them big hits like "Escuchame" (Listen to Me) that included the songs "Yo No Soy Esa" (I'm Not That One) and "Una Estrella en Mi Jardin" (A Star in My Garden).

In 2005 she made a double album of her greatest hits plus a video and was honored by the General Authors and Editors Society in recognition of her extensive artistic career.

Since last year the singer lived on the outskirts of the city of Murcia readying what was meant to be her farewell concert as well as a book of poems, according to her official Web site.

from Latin American Herald Tribune: Spanish Singer Mari Trini Dies

Derek [Weiler] graduated from the University of Waterloo with Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees in English Literature, and from Centennial College in Toronto with a Certificate in Magazine and Book Publishing. He was the editor of Quill & Quire, the magazine of the Canadian book trade, and wrote about books for such publications as the Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail, Driven and Chatelaine.

from Quill & Quire: Derek Weiler, 1968-2009
also That Shakespeherian Rag: R.I.P. Derek Weiler
also The Globe and Mail: Farewell, Derek Weiler

[Peter Wild's] text persuades other writers to pen higher. Historical prose crafted by a master wordsmith goes down deliciously; even dry facts linger on the tongue.

On writing, my client mused, "as the writer you're the guide, and it's best to assume that your readers are pretty ignorant about where they are going. Therefore, you need to lead them by the hand, as if you're giving a tour of a garden."

from Las Vegas Sun: Poet left behind a legacy of loving words


News at Eleven

I had clearly pushed the right button--not an easy feat with [Philip] Larkin--and he glowed visibly. [John] Betjeman, he said, was his favourite poet. "He is also the greatest living English poet together with T. S. Eliot. But Eliot is too obscure while Betjeman communicates directly with the general reader."

I was particularly struck by Larkin's loathing of work, including, I suspected, his job as a librarian, although he carefully did not specify this. We discussed his career and much of what he told me I included in my profile. He said that on going down from Oxford he could have taught or gone into the Civil Service.

from The Times Literary Supplement: Larkin's first interview

[Samuel Beckett] writes, with great difficulty and doubt, difficult and doubtful poems. He alternates between self-laceration and cockiness. He is profoundly alienated, not least because he inhabits a world of rejection slips, indefinite longings, extreme aesthetic sensitivity and (in the words of a friend) "passionate nihilism." He is moody. A flâneur as well as a great hill-walker, he is given to "St. Germainizing" and to the company, actual or potential, of Sartre and Djuna Barnes and Kandinsky. His creativity is a source of torment because, although he is a genius, as yet he lacks the wherewithal to bring his vocation to satisfactory fruition. He is, in short, waiting.

from The New York Times: I'll Go On

I will say that the book's cover completely freaked out my five-year-old--not because of the striking picture of [William] Edmondson, but because of the title! He doesn't want to worry about the prospect of God addressing him directly, and so he insisted I keep the book out of sight. And while I've done that, I'm half-inclined to teach him a poem [Elizabeth] Spires has cobbled out of Edmondson's interviews: "It's wonderful when God/gives you something./You've got it for good,/and yet you ain't got it./You got to do it and work for it."

from Bookslut: I Heard God Talking to Me: William Edmondson and His Stone Carvings by Elizabeth Spires

In that spirit, why not read aloud the following lines:

you can hear water
cooped up in moss and moving

slowly uphill through lean-to trees
where every day the sun gets twisted and shut

with the weak sound of the wind
rubbing one indolent twig upon another

Sound is fundamental to [Alice] Oswald's poetry, though never, she hopes, at the cost of sense. Negative reviews trouble her, especially if they question her meaning. "I hate not managing to speak clearly," she says, as agitated as she gets during our al fresco conversation. "I really hate it. I get a feeling of claustrophobia--like I'm locked in my own head--if what I've said hasn't reached someone."

from The Independent: Tales from the riverbank: Nature poet Alice Oswald on her own turf

[Michael Donaghy] is one of those writers whose flights of fancy have a knack of surprising not just his readers but himself. "'My father's sudden death has shocked us all'/Even me, and I've just made it up," he writes in "The Excuse". A basic mistake in approaching Donaghy's work would be to assume its emotional core was at odds with its frequent leg-pulling and cod-scholarly tangents. What is undeniable, though, is that his game-playing has a darker edge than may at first appear.

A typical Donaghy strategy is the unveiling of layers of narration within narration.

from The Guardian: Between the flash and the report

Goya's apocalyptic images of the war between Spain and Napoleonic France, the subject of another poem later in the volume, dispel any hope of a new human era after the events of Blake's prophesy. As [Louis] Simpson puts it, in a different context, "It seems that finally/life is real, not a joke."

The context of these lines, in a poem set in a physical rehabilitation center, differs by being personal rather than political.

from Bookslut: Struggling Times by Louis Simpson

The poems in this book remind me of songs, not just because they're short and sonnet-like, although they are, but because they're sorrowful and tuneful and colloquial like American songs. (The one they remind me of most often is "Shenandoah," with its mixture of traditional homesickness and moving on--"I long to hear you," but "I'm bound away.") Often the poems are not only musical but also about music: the music of Little Richard or Etta James or just the everyday human music that hums along down here on earth while things are falling apart for the "grand architect of the universe." Sometimes Wright evokes music by taking his titles from songs, "On the Trail of the Lonesome Pine," "No Direction Home," Well Get Up Rounder, Let a Working Man Lay Down." In "Music for Midsummer's Eve," time is an "untuned harmonium/That Muzaks our nights and days."

from Bookslut: Sestets by Charles Wright

But the best example of condescending praise has to be Ezra Pound's, who wrote to his friend Harriet Monroe, editor of Poetry magazine in Chicago: 'I think you may as well give this poor devil a show. . . .He has something in him, horribly rough but then "Stepney, East". . . . We ought to have a real burglar . . . ma che!!!' And yet if anyone might have been expected to understand [Isaac] Rosenberg by 1915, when these words were written, it was Pound, or his fellow innovator T.S. Eliot, with whom Rosenberg has sometimes been compared. For Rosenberg was a Modernist before his time, something of an exception among First World War poets, and not only with regard to his technique.

from The Wall Street Journal: 'Isaac Rosenberg: The Making of a Great War Poet'

I came to love his [Wallace Stevens'] literalness, his taste for letters and signs; his turning the poem into its own object (blurring of the distinction between object and subject); his sense of the magnetic attraction between word and word, between meaning and means. When I first read him I was dazzled by his audacities. Who ever ended a poem with a sentence like "The the."? That's how "The Man on the Dump" ends: "Where was it one first heard of the truth? The the." My god, in my teens and early twenties, I couldn't stop re-reading that ending!

from Hartford Advocate: Wallace Stevens

For the rest of us, the key to memorizing a poem painlessly is to do it incrementally, in tiny bits. I knock a couple of new lines into my head each morning before breakfast, hooking them onto what I've already got. At the moment, I'm 22 lines into Tennyson's "Ulysses," with 48 lines to go. It will take me about a month to learn the whole thing at this leisurely pace, but in the end I'll be the possessor of a nice big piece of poetical real estate, one that I will always be able to revisit and roam about in.

The process of memorizing a poem is fairly mechanical at first.

from The New York Times: Got Poetry?

Teachers have attacked politicians' meddling in the national curriculum and the censorship of English literature, warning against the schools secretary, Ed Balls, winning the power to dictate what pupils read and learn.

Delegates at the annual conference of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) voted to raise the issue of censorship with Balls following the banning of Carol Ann Duffy's poem Education for Leisure, which refers to knife crime, from an AQA exam board anthology last year after "extreme pressure" from a group of MPs.

from The Guardian: Censorship row over Carol Ann Duffy poem dropped from syllabus

Great Regulars

What I like seems to go through two phases--an initial fondness which may go no further, but, if it does, I suddenly find myself utterly stricken. In neither phase am I capable of explaining my enthusiasm. I have just moved to phase two with Geoffrey Hill. It happened when I was killing time between events at the Oxford Literary Festival.

from Bryan Appleyard: Thought Experiments: Geoffrey Hill--the Shiver

Together we guide the rams into a holding pen, where we divide them up and then take them in a trailer to their allowed paddocks. It takes all day and, at the end of it all, I tell [Graham] Pickles, truthfully, that it's been the most relaxing day of my life. He grins.

He talks about being out on the quads with Bill Royal, manager of this land for 30 years and wearer of some of the biggest hats I have ever seen.

"Sometimes we just look at each other and ask, 'Is there any place you'd rather be?' The answer's no."

from Bryan Appleyard: The Sunday Times: From outback to beach in Australia

In 1998, he won the prestigious Toronto's Harbourfront Festival Prize for his contributions to Canadian letters and to emerging writers. Awarded the Milton Acorn People's Poetry Award for his book, Tearing Into A Summer Day, Gervais was featured in the 2004 film, Heart of a Poet, made by Maureen Judge for Bravo TV. Robert Hilles: "[Gervais] is a smart genuine poet we are all wiser for having read."

9by Marty Gervais]

The Angel at My Bedside

For Stéphane

from Judith Fitzgerald: The Globe and Mail: On Other Words: In celebration of planetary poetry month 2

This is poetry linked firmly to the invisible labouring of a raw faith, which has grown out of body and mind. The vision here is one aesthetically grounded in the world, a world that in turn is replenished by these poems, by [Emily McGiffin's] beautifully cadenced work.

After a Journey

from Judith Fitzgerald: The Globe and Mail: On Other Words: In celebration of planetary poetry month 3

Inviting comparison with Matsuo Basho (1644-1694), the Zen monk who revitalised haiku, [Leonard] Cohen elects to translate hai (amusement) and ku (sentence) literally--emphasising the associative while permitting differentiation without exclusion.

Here, too, he reveals a poetic aesthetic founded upon principles of Imagism: Common speech, precise language, arresting diction and compressed imagery combine with novel approaches to form and content to elucidate the drama of quotidian existence.

from Judith Fitzgerald: The Globe and Mail: On Other Words: In celebration of planetary poetry month 5

[Alexandra Wilder's] poetry is full of magic and myth and mysterious beauty. She had a very soft and musical voice; and, from what I've read, her readings cast an incantatory spell over the audience.

Dark Pines Under Water

from Judith Fitzgerald: The Globe and Mail: On Other Words: In celebration of planetary poetry month 6

Unlike the unidentified man who claimed that being interred in a mausoleum was the "Stateliest Possible Manner of Interment," the speaker who has a traveler's heart finds the old-fashioned earth burial more suitable to his wandering ways. Instead of resting in a cold marble facility, the speaker prefers to be "one with the dark, dark earth." But he will not rest in that earth, he plans to "follow the plough with a yokel tread."

from Linda Sue Grimes: Lindsay's The Traveller-Heart

Nevertheless, the point is made that men should not behave as penned up animals do when confronted with an enemy who would kill them. In a battle against an enemy, soldiers must stand bravely with their fellow soldiers to protect their own lives, their family, and their countrymen. This position is the one Winston Churchill was extolling by using this poem.

from Linda Sue Grimes: Mckay's If We Must Die

The speaker then declares that the negativity associated with blackness exists only in the woman's "deeds." Her physical beauty does not suffer when compared to blondes and other fair-haired woman, but her cruelty and her tyrannical behavior make her deserve the "slander" she receives. He cannot defend her ugly deeds, even if he is drawn to her natural, dark beauty.

from Linda Sue Grimes: Shakespeare Sonnet 131

Addressing his dark lady, the speaker again focuses on her foul disposition, as he wishes for a better attitude from her. He dramatizes her moods by comparing them to sunrise and sunset, and punning on the word "mourning." He wishes for "morning" but continues to receive "mourning" instead.

from Linda Sue Grimes: Shakespeare Sonnet 132

The speaker again reiterates, "Though many lives I had to wait/On mountain crags of high devotions/I sadly sang my song, my song, my song." Again, the speaker/singer/poet drives home the importance of constancy, of never giving up, of continuing to sing and chant until the Divine Singer comes to blend His melodies with those of the devotee.

from Linda Sue Grimes: Yogananda's Divine Love Sorrows

Buddhism spread to Tibet from India around fifteen hundred years ago. Although it then declined in land of its birth, we were able to preserve it in Tibet as well as helping others benefit from the teachings of the Buddha. We feel we have gone some way towards repaying India's kindness.

We shall be very happy if we are able to contribute to restoring India's rich Buddhist heritage. In order to fulfil this dream, Pandit Nehru established the Sikkim Research Institute of Tibetology, Central Institute of Buddhist Studies, Leh, Ladakh, and the Central University of Tibetan Studies in Varanasi. In these places, initiatives have been taken to translate important texts, whose originals once existed in Indian languages but have since been lost, from Tibetan back into Indian languages such as Sanskrit. This significant project has been both successful and satisfying. As a token of Tibetan people's willingness to restore to India the rich culture we have preserved so far,I would like to tell you that we plan to offer the Indian nation, complete sets of the Kangyur (Tibetan translations of the Buddha's teachings), and Tengyur (Tibetan translations of commentaries by subsequent Indian masters), as well as 63 titles restored from Tibetans into Sanskrit and over 150 translated into Hindi and other languages.

from Tenzin Gyatso: The Office of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama: His Holiness the Dalai Lama's Thank You India Address

Choice of Diseases
by Hal Sirowitz

Correcting an Unbalance
by Hal Sirowitz

Choice of Diseases

Now that I'm sick & have

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: Choice of Diseases by Hal Sirowitz

A Father's Pain
by Larry Smith

My father ignored his pain,

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: A Father's Pain by Larry Smith

Have You Met Miss Jones?
by Charles Simic

I have. At the funeral

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: Have You Met Miss Jones? by Charles Simic

Honey, Can You Hear Me
by James Tate

Alison stared into the mirror and combed her hair. How

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: Honey, Can You Hear Me by James Tate

In Early Spring
by Larry Smith

April Prayer
by Stuart Kestenbaum

In Early Spring

Road catkins, russet and tan, let the

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: In Early Spring by Larry Smith

Lies My Mother Told Me
by Elizabeth Thomas

If you keep eating raw spaghetti

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: Lies My Mother Told Me by Elizabeth Thomas

Thoreau and the Toads
by David Wagoner

After the spring thaw, their voices ringing

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: Thoreau and the Toads by David Wagoner

My father was the manager of a store in which chairs were strategically placed for those dutiful souls waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting for shoppers. Such patience is the most exhausting work there is, or so it seems at the time. This poem by Joseph O. Legaspi perfectly captures one of those scenes.

At the Bridal Shop

from Ted Kooser: American Life in Poetry: Column 210

Having lived in Mexico for almost two years, I can vouch for the veracity of [Octavio] Paz' statements. It seems the main reason Americans have trouble understanding Mexican culture is this fundamental difference in our social, religious and political histories.

In his poetry as well as his essays, Paz writes about this Mexican worldview, which he seems to share in spite of his education and his liberalism, his world travels and his political work. And yet it is the personal redemption through love and eroticism that he seems to believe will transcend all barriers.

from Anthony Maulucci: Norwich Bulletin: On Poetry: Modern Mexican writer felt love could transcend all

The title echoes the Scottish poet William Dunbar's Lament for the Makers. That poem's famous refrain, "timor mortis conturbat me" ("fear of death confounds me"), turns Dunbar's grief for the lost poets with poignant candour towards himself. [Francis] Ledwidge, in the poem to his mother quoted earlier, had described himself as "this poor, bird-hearted singer of a day". It is tempting to imagine that the elegy was written in some kind of foreknowledge of the untimely silencing of his own sweet blackbird song.

Lament for the Poets: 1916

from Carol Rumens: The Guardian: Books blog: Poem of the week: Lament for the Poets: 1916

Tom Clark complicates any easy notion of the self, exploring lyric form as a vehicle that relates the myriad facets of poetic identity in language. He is one of only a few writing today who can use the lyric effectively, with flexibility and nerve.

from Dale Smith: Bookslut: Marsupial Inquirer: Tom Clark and the Lyric Self

It makes sense that [John] Updike, who spent his career translating everything into language, would not back away from writing about dying. It also makes sense that he would do it in poetry--no time to construct a narrative with existence so compressed.

What's curious, though, is how few writers have reported back on their experience of the end of life. Janet Hobhouse was at work on her final novel "The Furies," when she died of cancer in 1991; the closing chapters chart the vagaries of "this dying business" with a fierce unwillingness to look away.

Raymond Carver's poetry collection "A New Path to the Waterfall" was completed days before his death in August 1988; here's the last poem, "Late Fragment," in its entirety:

from David L. Ulin: Los Angeles Times: Jacket Copy: The literature of death

I think the perfect image of love is to be seen when a mother and a very young boy are together by themselves. I don't often agree with Freud, but I think the old fellor was right on the money when he said, "If a man has been his mother's undisputed darling he retains throughout life the triumphant feeling, the confidence in success, which not seldom brings actual success along with it."

from Frank Wilson: When Falls the Coliseum: That's What He Said: Love is something we do

What's Left?
By Igor Gregory Kozak

[Semi-inspired by Sergey Esenin]

A questioning fatalism-pessimism

from CounterPunch: Poets' Basement: Foley, Valentine and Kozak

Paul Farley


from Granta: Cyan

In the second in a series showcasing important contemporary poets, publishes a new poem by Wislawa Szymborska, the Nobel Prize-winning Polish poet.

Me--a teenager?

from Granta: Poem

The Sod Farm by Paul Muldoon

from The Guardian: The Saturday poem: The Sod Farm by Paul Muldoon

For example: Katherine Hepburn has just been stood up for a date on the Great Barrier Reef. What is she feeling, thinking? What time of day is it? How did she get here? Is she hot or cold? Tired or exhilarated? It's entirely up to you. You might find the exercise takes you into a creative dead end--try a different combination.

Feel free to choose any form you like. You don't have to rhyme, but I'd like you to think about making some beautiful collisions in the language as well as the character, place and situation you choose.

from The Guardian: Poetry Workshop: Christopher James's workshop

by Rafael Acevedo translated by Ricardo Alberto Maldonado

Of Cannibals

With these five bones, human bones,

from Guernica: Poetry: Two Poems

By Wayne Miller

I'm wading in the pupil of my life.

from The Kansas City Star: Poet's Corner: 'Walking Through the House With a Candle'

The Long-Term Marriage
by Spencer Reece

from The New Yorker: Poetry: The Long-Term Marriage

Siblings and Half Siblings
by Jana Prikryl

from The New Yorker: Poetry: Siblings and Half Siblings

By Bob Hicok

I know a woman about to lose her house.

from PBS: Newshour: Weekly Poem: 'Weebles wobble but they don't fall down'

[by Joe Mulqueen]


I've had enough of snow.

from Portsmouth Herald News: Poem: Springtime

At the outset of The Winter Sun, an apologia for the writing life, Fanny Howe confesses, "Since early adolescence I have wanted to live the life of a poet. What this meant to me was a life outside the law; it would include disobedience and uprootedness. I would be at liberty to observe, drift, read, travel, take notes, converse with friends, and struggle with form." The outlaw poet has a long lineage, from the Beats and Rimbaud back to the troubadours, and it doesn't accommodate the vulnerabilities of womankind.

from Powells: Review-A-Day: A Nameless Vocation

"Bombs Rock Cairo"
By Christian Wiman

from Slate: "Bombs Rock Cairo" --By Christian Wiman

My new collection of poetry, "Bicycles," is a book about love mostly, but also loss. Bicycles are about trust and balance, though we do fall sometimes. Falling in love can be great fun. Falling off bicycles can hurt. I said to my class that I wanted to go on "Deal or No Deal" since I have figured out what you need to do to be successful. They all said, "NO! You will embarrass yourself." My responjse was, "If the only time I am embarrassed is by this television show, I have led a charmed life!"

Ecstasy is about risk. Deal!

Deal or No Deal (for ENGL 4714 CRN 16937)

from The Washington Post: Poet's Choice: Deal or No Deal by Nikki Giovanni

Poetic Obituaries

[Carol Ann Davis] loved her grandchildren dearly and enjoyed taking them shopping on Saturday mornings. Her passions were her home, gardening, writing poetry and making jewelry as well as many other crafts and hobbies.

from The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead: Carol Ann Davis

She was born Winifred Mary Mason on July 25 1914 at the pit village of Brierley near Cinderford. Her father, Charlie, was a coal miner who read widely, debated politics and philosophy, and learned sign language to converse with the village's lone deaf mute. Although her great-aunt's tumbledown cottage, where the Masons lived, had no gas, electricity or running water, and there was never enough to eat, young Poll (as Winifred was known in the family) shared her father's love of books.

At school she was regularly beaten by the tyrannical headmaster until he noticed the compositions and poems in her exercise book and marched her into the top class.

from Telegraph: Winifred Foley

The blonde 24-year-old [Kirsty Grabham] was reported missing by her family after catching a taxi back to the home she shared with her husband Paul, 25, in Swansea at 4am. Her family have described her disappearance as a 'living hell'.

An unnamed man had already been arrested on suspicion of murder and yesterday detectives discovered a woman's body in bushes close to the M4 near Bridgend, South Wales, 20 miles away from her home.

Police have taken away the hard drive from Mrs Grabham's computer in the search for clues, as well as a notebook of poems she had written.

from Daily Mail: Police find body of missing model dumped in woodland

[Dan R. Griffith] married the former Suzanne Greenfield in 1994 and lived with her, her daughter Isabel Storto, and Isabel's daughter, Aurora.

Dan was a kind and passionate man who believed strongly in equality for all men and women. He loved reading, with interests ranging from history to science, natural disasters and UFOs.

from Kitsap Sun: Dan R. Griffith, 59

In 1974 [Tran Quang] Huy became a researcher at the Vietnamese Institute of Musicology.

In 1984 he became an editor at Ho Chi Minh City Television, where, besides editing musical programs, he also produced the program "Tho ca giao hoa" (Harmony of poetry) for many years.

As a composer, he was known for ballads like "Ngo vang xon xao" (Desert alley whispers), "Bong hong tang co" (A rose for the teacher), "Tinh bien" (Love of the sea), "Vuong van mua xuan" (Miss the spring), and "Mot nua mua dong" (A half of winter).

from VietNamNet Bridge: Talented ballad composer passes away

[Jay] Mochizuki described [Kazuo] Inafuku, whom he had known for more than 20 years, as a quiet man, deeply involved in the cultural life of Houston's Japanese-American community. He proposed creation of a Japanese drum corps, which Mochizuki later led, and helped start a Japanese poetry society.

"He was just a funny guy," Norma Inafuku said. "He was quite an unassuming person. Very humble. . . . He was interested in keeping in touch with his roots."

from Houston Chronicle: Inafuku, longtime journalist at Japanese-English newspaper

Mumbai Noora Kaskar, a name with links to the Mumbai's underworld, passed away while taking a nap in Karachi, Pakistan, on Monday evening.

Few know that he was Dawood Ibrahim's younger brother. Still fewer know that he used to write poetry, and that one of his songs made it to a movie. But in the Mumbai Police circles it was known well, that Noora was one underworld character who wrote poetry.

from Express India: Dawood brother who wrote poetry passes away

[Maxine L. Smith] also served as the organist at the Christian Science Church in Appleton. She was a past board member of Pastoral Counseling Center (Samaritan Counseling).

She was a Girl Scout leader, taught piano lessons, and was an avid reader. She wrote poems for everyone on special occasions.

from Appleton Post-Crescent: Smith, Maxine L.

The poet Alexei Parshchikov has died in Cologne, age 54 (, in Russian). I knew him in the 80s, when his girlfriend--or was it wife?--was Olga Sviblova and he was part of the metametaphor (????????????) group of writers and artists that included the painters Evgeni Dybsky, Igor Ganikovsky, Boris Markovnikov and Zakhar Sherman.

from IZO: The poet Alexei Parshchikov has died . . .
also The poet Alexei Parshchikov has died(Russian)
also avmalgin: It is impossible to believe (Russian)


News at Eleven

[Basho's] despair only deepened in 1682, when his house burned to the ground in a fire that obliterated much of Edo. He wrote:

Tired of cherry,
Tired of this whole world,
I sit facing muddy sake
And black rice.

In 1684 Basho made a months-long journey westward from Edo, which occasioned his first travel account, Journal of a Weather-Beaten Skeleton. In Basho's day travel was by foot and lodging was primitive. But despite these rigors he set out again in 1687 and a third time in 1687-1688, journeys recounted in Kashima Journal and Manuscript in a Knapsack. Both were written in a genre that Basho profoundly refined--haibun, a mixture of haiku and prose.

from National Geographic: On the Poet's Trail
also National Geographic: On the Poet's Trail: Interactive Travelogue
also National Geographic: On the Poet's Trail: Photo Gallery

Yet according to the NEA report, in 2008, just 8.3 percent of adults had read any poetry in the preceding 12 months. That figure was 12.1 percent in 2002, and in 1992, it was 17.1 percent, meaning the number of people reading poetry has decreased by approximately half over the past 16 years.

Sunil Iyengar, the NEA's director of the Office of Research and Analysis, says the agency can't answer with certainty why fewer adults are reading poetry. He and others believed the opposite would be true, largely because of poetry's expansion onto the Internet. "In fact," he says, "part of our surmise as to why fiction reading rates seem to be up might be due to greater opportunities through online reading. But we don't know why with poetry that's not the case."

from Newsweek: The End of Verse?

[Ted] Hughes was a hands-on father. In a letter to Assia, he wrote that "Nicky has impetigo on his face--a spread-up wound the size of a shilling, beside his nose, developed from a scratch. So he's off school, and I'm sending him with ointment from Webb. Every little scratch he gets just lately turns immediately septic".

In another letter to her, he proudly reported that "Nicky is evidently a very good painter at school. They've both become mad about Plasticene." He encouraged his son to draw and paint, rewarding him with a shilling for good work, and nothing when he thought it was careless.

from Telegraph: Ted Hughes, the devoted father

[Andrew] Motion has said that the job of writing verse for the Royal Family is "thankless" and even gave him a case of writer's block.

Yet, speculation about who may follow in his footsteps is growing, with bookmakers making Simon Armitage and Carol Ann Duffy firm favourites.

Here is a rundown of some of the names in the frame for the UK's most prestigious--and arguably unenviable--post in poetry.

from BBC News: Poet Laureate: Runners and Riders

Everywhere we dug there were white bones.
. . .What kind of foundation would they make for our house?

My friends were perplexed. Were they our bones or their bones?
. . . The Americans left years ago and took their bones with them.

These skeletons, scattered all over our land,
Belong only to Vietnamese,
--"Quang Tri" in Mountain River: Vietnamese Poetry from the Wars 1948-1993.

There is no easy rebuilding after war. Literally or metaphorically, the survivors of the war are building upon the skeletons of the soldiers who fell while fighting for them.

from Crookston Daily Times: Poetry and the Vietnam War: The power of words to heal

"Gasa" (Kasa), a form of poetry popular during the Joseon Kingdom (1392-1910), has long been consigned to oblivion for modern Koreans who learn it only in their high school days.

But the traditional poetry has been revived in an English translation by Prof. Lee Sung-il, who retired from the English Department of Yonsei University last month.

from The Korea Times: Ancient Korean Poems Resonate in English

"World's End," like much Neruda, contains bewildering multitudes. Some poems incite, others console, as the poet--maestro of his own response and impresario of ours--looks inward and out. "The century of the exiled,/the book of the exiled./The brown century, the black book,/this is what I must leave/written and open in the book,/exhuming it from the century/and bleeding it in the book," he writes in "Saddest Century," one of the final poems here, "those who keep leaving behind/their loves and their mistakes/thinking that maybe maybe/and knowing never never/and it was my turn to sob/this dusty wail/for those who lost the earth/and to celebrate with my brothers . . . the victorious buildings,/the harvests of new bread."

from Los Angeles Times: 'World's End' by Pablo Neruda

Pretending to be taken aback, [Robert] Frost asked [Ellery] Sedgwick if he were sure he wanted to publish Frost's poems. "Yes," said Sedgwick. "Sight unseen?" asked Frost. "Sight unseen," said Sedgwick. Pulling from his pocket the three poems he had read at Tufts only the night before, Frost waved them under Sedgwick's nose, while, according to Frost, Sedgwick made little grabs for them. "Are you sure that you want to buy these poems?" Frost inquired.

from The Atlantic: The First Three Poems and One That Got Away

[T.S. Eliot] went on: "After all, your pigs are far more intelligent than the other animals, and therefore are the best qualified to run the farm--in fact there couldn't have been an Animal Farm without them: so that what was needed (someone might argue) was not more communism but more public-spirited pigs."

Eliot's rejection might have been prompted by the political situation at the time, when Russia was regarded as an essential ally to defeat Hitler.

Animal Farm was only published in August 1945, three months after the war in Europe ended.

from Telegraph: T.S. Eliot rejected George Orwell's Animal Farm because of its 'Trotskyite' politics

[by Mary Jo Bang]


Once there was my life and it was a thing

from Record: Poet's perfect profession

Farewell To The Earth by Christopher James

from The Guardian: Farewell To The Earth by Christopher James
also The Guardian: Christopher James wins the National Poetry Competition

Great Regulars

[Michael] Castro stands an old fear on its head, that to prune means to lose. He is saying no, it's a concentration, a revitalization, a "focus of energy" so that we can spring back stronger than ever.

In the second couplet, Castro doesn't warn us of dire consequences but encourages us to go ahead and cut, perhaps even the limb we may be standing on. In the falling, in the brushing ourselves off and standing up, who knows what we will discover--perhaps nothing less than who we really are. Then again, we might discover that we can fly.

Poet in a Tree

for Gabor G. Gyukics

from Walter Bargen: The Post-Dispatch: Missouri Poets: Michael Castro

Around this time of year, those who talk about poetry at all often talk about its "relevance to life," meaning the life we've all agreed is true. But the greatest power of poetry may be the wild, individual voice that's nothing like what we've thought of as life, before.

And about this time of year, those who talk about poetry at all will complain that a poem should be easy to understand, or why bother? But when we dumb poetry down, pretty soon we've eliminated the possibility of the deep engagement with the sometimes seemingly intractable language, which can change us.

from Fleda Brown: Traverse City Record-Eagle: On Poetry: A challenge for Poetry Month

During the course of the celebratory evening, [Seamus] Heaney selected a pair of poems to read in honour of what many call "the sacramental Cohen," one of which he also delivered, IIRC, at the Nobel ceremony, 1984's "The Underground."

He also read one of the most nearly perfect poems exquisitely suited to this Holy Season in our (now) shared language, "A Drink of Water" (1979):

Here, (said poetry-blogging she, donning her critical cap), Heaney first creates a world inhabited by the sacred dignity of the catch-as-catch-can quotidian consonant with the past and redolent with those oppressive "Troubles":

from Judith Fitzgerald: The Globe and Mail: On Other Words: Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney honoured

"The perfect poem," [Erin] Mouré additionally muses, clearly equivocating vis-à-vis that earlier question, the one that's struck her as germane to all it is a poet shapes and makes, "the perfect poem is the one that touches me at the moment of reading and exposes me to something outside my being that, paradoxically, shows me that in me, too, is something that is outside of my being. Language is mine, and is not mine. The language of the poem shatters the cogito, which was always never unified: the language of the poem pulls the mask of self-unity off the cogito, I guess."

Cogito ergo doleo? Does Mouré think a poem can change the world?

from Judith Fitzgerald: The Globe and Mail: On Other Words: Traversing the mysterious Mouréan terrain

Emily Dickinson's seventeen-line poem, "The Robin's my Criterion for Tune," contains a famous line that the poet used to describe her world-view, "Because I see--New Englandly." And because she looked with the eyes of an American New Englander, she dramatizes the things she sees and experiences in her neck of the woods with pride of place.

from Linda Sue Grimes: Dickinson's The Robin's my Criterion for Tune

The problem with the portrayal of this poor little rich girl is that it is painted by a person who knew the wealthy woman at age twenty and then did not see her again until the privileged woman was forty-three. Yet the speaker expects her readers/listeners to accept this pathetic portrayal as factual.

This poem sneers at this woman and draws conclusions about her life about which it is impossible for the narrator to know.

from Linda Sue Grimes: Kay's Pathedy of Manners

In the eleventh quatrain, the speaker's companion branches into the many lives the speaker has lived. Not only has he crossed these fields and valleys as a youth, but also as he was maturing to adulthood, he experienced these pleasant hikes many times at many different times of his life, thus "like the cloudy shadows/Across the country blown/We two fare on for ever,/But not we two alone."

from Linda Sue Grimes: March Poet--A. E. Housman

By clicking on the U. S. map offered in this section of the Web site, the reader can locate his own state to find out about events close to home. In addition to National Poetry Month activities, however, the state site includes information about the state's poet laureate, if it has one, and a list of other poets who hail from the state.

Of all of the projects and activities, the "Poetry Map" feature is probably the most useful one offered for the dissemination and promotion of poetry information.

from Linda Sue Grimes: National Poetry Month--April 2009

The speaker refers to the notion that light-skinned, blonde women were held in higher esteem than dark-skinned, raven-haired women. This fact, of course, simply reflects the part of the world where the speaker resides--in a zone where less sun would encourage less melanin production in human skin and hair.

The object of Petrarchan sonnets, "Laura," is described as "fair-haired," and some of the "dark lady" sonnets protest against the idealization of women found in these and earlier highly romanticized poems.

from Linda Sue Grimes: Shakespeare Sonnet 127

The speaker then comically creates the image of his lips changing place with the keys on the keyboard. Her fingers are gently pressing those keys, and he would prefer her fingers be playing over his lips. He offers the melodramatic notion that her fingers playing over those "dancing chips" or keys is "Making dead wood more bless'd than living lips."

from Linda Sue Grimes: Shakespeare Sonnet 128

The speaker makes it clear that the human mind is capable of understanding that the strong sex urge should be eschewed, except for procreation; thus he claims that the whole world knows this fact, yet the irony of the human condition plays out time and time again: despite the knowledge of right behavior, the human often falls pray to the false promise of "the heaven that leads men to this hell."

Instead of heeding the warning from the soul and from the great spiritual leaders and from great philosophical thinkers who have warned against this satanic act, the weak human being allows himself to be sucked into this depravity over and over again.

from Linda Sue Grimes: Shakespeare Sonnet 129

Many beginners in the study of yoga easily grasp the idea that they are not the physical body, but it is more difficult to grasp that they are also not the mind. The body is readily available to sense awareness, but the mind seems to be as invisible (unsensedetectable) as the soul is. One cannot see, hear, taste, touch, or smell the mind.

But the mind is as delusion-invoking as the body. And in yoga meditation, the beginner learns quickly that the mind is even harder to control than the body.

from Linda Sue Grimes: Yogananda's I Am He

The point of the column is to bring poetry into the lives of everyday people. Many people don't read poetry anymore, but they should, because it holds many answers to our concerns, or clues for how we can cope.

Like, for example, what if you need help accepting your ugly shoes because the economy is poor and you can't afford to buy a new pair?

from Kristen Hoggart: The Smart Set: Ask a Poet: What Would Ovid Do?

In spring, a person's thoughts naturally turn toward what you would rather be doing than earning a living, and in America this usually means Being An Artist. This is the true American dream. Winning the lottery is a faint hope, becoming a sports hero is a daydream, but publishing poetry is the ambition of one-third of the American people and another third are thinking about writing a memoir.

from Garrison Keillor: Chicago Tribune: Spring reminds that we'd rather be artists

by Mark Strand

I think of the innocent lives

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: Fiction by Mark Strand

Meditation on Ruin
by Jay Hopler

It's not the lost lover that brings us to ruin, or the barroom brawl,

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: Meditation on Ruin by Jay Hopler

No Matter How Far You Drive
by Louis Jenkins

I sat between Mamma and Daddy.

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: No Matter How Far You Drive by Louis Jenkins

by Louis Simpson

The truck came at me,

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: Suddenly by Louis Simpson

Teaching Poetry to 3rd Graders
by Gary Short

At recess a boy ran to me

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: Teaching Poetry to 3rd Graders by Gary Short

When Somebody Calls after Ten P.M
by Bruce Dethlefsen

Suicide Aside
by Bruce Dethlefsen

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: When Somebody Calls after Ten P.M by Bruce Dethlefsen

Why We Speak English
by Lynn Pedersen

Because when you say cup and spoon

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: Why We Speak English by Lynn Pedersen

I've gotten to the age at which I am starting to strain to hear things, but I am glad to have gotten to that age, all the same. Here's a fine poem by Miller Williams of Arkansas that gets inside a person who is losing her hearing.

Going Deaf

from Ted Kooser: American Life in Poetry: Column 209

[Anne] Carson's choice of diction presents many puzzles. Why does Clytemnestra's lover seem to quote Scripture? Why, if speakability is Carson's aim, would she have one of her characters declare, "Look at him, look how he drips unhealth--shudder object!" Why would Helen be referred to--distractingly, jarringly--as a "weapon of mass destruction"?

Similar vagaries of pitch arise through Carson's decision to replicate Aeschylean word-coinages, where two words are compounded into one.

from Brad Leithauser: The New York Times: Family Feuds

The narrator has not seen this mythical creature, yet it has a presence drawn on postcards and ashtrays. Lechliter sets up his story, then shifts to first-person experience of being alone on "dusty backroads" and "railroad tracks," places that evoke solitude. In these wanderings, his jackalope becomes a female, despite her masculine rack of antlers. She hides, survives, and leaves behind an intangible aroma. Is she not real?

The Jackalope

from Denise Low: Ad Astra Poetry Project: Gary Lechliter (1951 - )

A Jury of Her Peers is longer on context than on textual interpretation. [Elaine] Showalter carefully traces the evolution of fiction, poetry and nonfiction written by women and analyzes their reception in the literary marketplace. In between short biographical sketches of the writers, she highlights features of their literature, noting, for instance, that many of the earliest works by women in America were captivity narratives like Mary Rowlandson's. She charts the rise of the domestic novel in the 1850s and the concurrent rise in female readers. She demonstrates that women writers at the beginning of the 20th century saw the short story as the most authoritative form available to them, and she details the advent of Gothic-tinged fiction in the mid-20th century.

from Meghan O'Rourke: Miami Herald: The evolution of female literary voices in America

In January, three weeks after my mom's death, I flew to L.A. and then drove to the Mojave Desert, where I spent a few days wandering around Joshua Tree National Park. Being alone under the warm blue sky made me feel closer to my mother, as it often has. I felt I could detect her in the haze at the horizons. I offered a little prayer up to her, and, for the first time since she died, I talked out loud to her. I was walking along past the cacti, when I looked out into the rocky distance. "Hello mother," I whispered. "I miss you so much."

from Meghan O'Rourke: Slate: The Long Goodbye

Apostrophes should be quietly forgotten. German can do without them. It's inconsistent. We tell children the apostrophe is the possessive--but not for theirs, his, hers or its. In 50 years' time, people will look at our apostrophes and think: 'What a silly mess!'

from Michael Rosen: Metro: Michael Rosen's secret to a happy childhood

But, however bitterly she confronts personal conflict, [Elinor Morton] Wylie retains her sharp-edged poise. This week's poem epitomises her ability to make a bold, hard metaphorical shell for difficult emotion. She packed her poems in salt, as Yeats advised, and they have lasted well. They deserve to be much better known.


from Carol Rumens: The Guardian: Books blog: Poem of the week: Sanctuary

For [Peter] Porter, the pleasure of strict form isn't simply musical. It also affords a glimpse of that Edenic world in which "the whole close patterning is seen at once./Everything is perfect, and of no concern" ("No Infelicitous Phrases Need Apply"). But Porter's present day is post-lapsarian, as his title poem, with its echo of John Lennon's apparent hubris, suggests. "Free Will for Man!" may demand the death of God, but it remains the case that it is the ideal "orchestra/at the Creation" who "can play/anything you put in front of them".

from Fiona Sampson: The Guardian: Trapped by language

One night, a few years ago, I was standing in my garden when that Sunday afternoon long ago became suddenly present to me. I put it that way because it wasn't just being reminded of something long past and remembering it. It was much more vivid than that. It was as if the present moment had become transparent and I could see that earlier day as the palimpsest upon which all of my life had, in fact, been written.

from Frank Wilson: When Falls the Coliseum: That's What He Said: The moment of knowing

by Paulann Petersen

It was middle June

from CounterPunch: Poets' Basement: Four Poems by Paulann Petersen

[by Lorraine Mariner]

Section 3 - Write text - p.22

Jessica Elton is learning how to text

from The Guardian: The Saturday poem: Section 3 - Write text - p.22 by Lorraine Mariner

By Randall Mann

In the half-mist of Golden Gate Park,

from Kansas City Star: Poet's Corner: 'Translation' by Randall Mann

The Poem that Can't Be Written
by Lawrence Raab

from The New Yorker: Poetry: The Poem that Can't Be Written

Trench Names
by A. S. Byatt

from The New Yorker: Poetry: Trench Names

[by Jerry Harp]

I give my ears to sunlit piercings,

from The Oregonian: Poetry: "Testament"

[by E.O. Barsalou]


Isaac was our dog, you see.

from Portsmouth Herald News: Poem: Isaac

Irene Brown's new poetry pamphlet from Calder Wood Press includes this poem in memory of the writer's father, and the Scottish bandleader Jimmy Shand. The exuberance and vitality of these dancers and the music is irrepressible.

Keep it Simple, Son

from The Scotsman: Poem of the Week: Irene Brown

"Poem for Hannah"
By Matthew Zapruder

from Slate: "Poem for Hannah" By Matthew Zapruder

Ode To The God of Atheists

by Ellen Bass

The god of atheists won't burn you at the stake

from The Sun Magazine: Poetry: Ode To The God of Atheists

In style, the poem's use of stand-alone, factual observations, with no enjambements and no logical progressions between lines, mimics some of the condition it describes; but also draws an uneasy distinction between "It"--the condition, implacable and alien--and "him", the frightened and struggling boy, negotiating as best he can between his own limits and those of his family. Despite the dispassionate veneer--appropriate to his son's more machine-like moments--[Les] Murray delivers a powerful poem of humour, sadness, love and, surely, admiration.

It Allows a Portrait in Line Scan at Fifteen

from The Times Literary Supplement: Poem of the Week: It Allows a Portrait in Line Scan at Fifteen by Les Murray

A few years ago, when reading an essay about the history of psychotropic drugs, I started a poem that used the names of these drugs as a kind of incantation. This lead me to recall what my college roommate, who killed himself, had once said about Thorazine, that it was "handcuffs for the mind." Eventually, this provided an avenue back to the poem I had wanted to write about my maternal grandmother.

from The Washington Post: Poet's Choice: Michael Collier

Poetic Obituaries

On the death of Ivan Cameron, six years old, the son of Opposition leader David Cameron and his wife Susanna.

He had suffered from cerebral palsy and epilepsy.

from The Shields Gazette: A poem for tragic Ivan

As a reporter, and friend of Nicholas's, in Alaska, said: "Here he found somewhere he could be himself."

However, if Nicholas Hughes assiduously shunned the neon light that flashed around his parents' past, he was always close to his father.

Father and son shared a lifelong fascination with nature; Ted Hughes' wonderful, and savage, poetry of the wild and his son's avid studies of fish, their habits and habitat. Ted Hughes wrote to a friend of how he and Nicholas fished together in Africa, Ireland and in Alaska's 'dreamland'; how they 'lay awake, listening to wolves'.

Tragically, it emerged just last week that it was his father's death from cancer in 1998 that triggered Nicholas Hughes's depression.

from A son lost to the deep wounds of Plath's sad death

Its luminous alliteration transports us to childhood, in the hunt for a solemn and simple happiness. The presence of the verbs conjugated in the future predominates, projecting themselves into the future whilst weighing up the upsetting burden of today. The future is constellated with nostalgia, of a recurring past.

Our homage to Ilaria [La Commare] is a well-meaning translation of her 'Linden tree grains', an example of her skilled wordplay and her prose of poetic strokes, both volcanic and original.

Linden tree grains

from The Poetry Round: Ilaria La Commare's poetry in movement
also coffeefactory: editor Ilaria La Commare, 30

[Bill McCoubrey] loved writing poetry and reading. He was also very proud of winning the Hugh MacDiarmid Tassie for the best poem written in the Scottish language.

Bill loved to travel and was fluent in French and German.

from Hamilton Advertiser: Former libraries chief Bill dies at age of 69

When Mr. [Gwinn F.] Owens left the editorship in 1986, he was succeeded by Mike Bowler, who edited the op-ed page until 1994.

"It was easy taking over because Gwinn had everything in place, and he passed along a great tradition to me. It was a good, lively page," said Mr. Bowler, who was The Sun's education editor and a columnist when he left in 2004.

"My contributors weren't necessarily professional writers. We had a cabdriver, a 13-year-old kid and people in prison. We had people from all walks of life. And we did poetry. We had lots of poetry," Mr. Bowler said.

from The Baltimore Sun: Gwinn F. Owens

[Ennis] Rees served in the post through 1985. (Gov. Dick Riley tried to spread the appreciation for verse by appointing three poet laureates during his eight years in office.)

Rees' body of work ranged from poetry to literary criticisms to translations of Homer and Aesop. He also wrote children's books, often illustrated by Edward Gorey, with fanciful names such as "Gillygaloos and Gollywhoppers," "Teeny Tiny Duck and the Pretty Money" and "Windwagon Smith."

from The State: Ennis Rees: USC professor, state poet dies

A poem written by 17-year-old Samantha Revelus, who police say was fatally stabbed by her brother on Saturday in a bloodbath in their home, speaks of a strong woman much like her friends described her. Revelus, who was of Haitian descent, had just returned from Milton High School, where she had rehearsed the poem, "Acquaintance," and was to deliver it at a poetry jam on Thursday night.


from Associated Press: Before stabbing, Mass. poet talked of strength

The poet and critic Derek Stanford, who has died aged 90, had reasons to be grateful to the novelist Muriel Spark, his one-time lover, but her characterisation of him as the fifth-rate, pushy writer Hector Bartlett in A Far Cry from Kensington (1988) was not among them. Nor were her pronouncements on his 1963 work, Muriel Spark: A Biographical and Critical Study. "If Mr Stanford had applied to me," she wrote, "I would have advised against this undertaking."

But, 50 years after they parted, his poems seemingly inspired by the affair appeared in the Times Literary Supplement (TLS) for several years, conjuring up too the doomed 1890s poets he identified with and championed.

from The Guardian: Derek Stanford

[Gerrit Viljoen] continuing his studies abroad and obtained an MA from Cambridge followed by a D.Litt et Phil from Leiden in 1955, following his father's academic interest by researching the poetry of a classical Greek poet and author, Pindar.

Viljoen also followed his father's keen interest in politics.

from Gerrit Viljoen dies

Mid-America Press published her [Cecile Franking Wu's] book of poetry, From Ink and Sandalwood, described as a collection of works by a woman caught between the two cultures that most influenced her life--American and Chinese.

The poems centered on her parents, her family and topical subjects such as President John F. Kennedy's assassination. The book won the 1991 Thorpe Menn Award for Writing Excellence from The Kansas City Star, beating some heavy hitters, including the late Dan Quisenberry of Kansas City Royals fame.

from The Kansas City Star: Cecile Franking Wu was a poet in running shoes


News at Eleven

It is, though, the question of how to be her [Sharon Old's] mother's daughter that most consumes her in this volume. Much of her life, it seems, has been engaged in devising strategies of liberation from that oppressive tie. One of the most remarkable poems in this collection has her metamorphose into a fly on the wall of her Puritan family home: "in each of the hundred/eyes of both of my compound eyes,/one wallpaper rose". It's an astonishing image for the terrible fixity of a pathological obsession.

from The Guardian: Flesh knew itself, and spoke

While in the zoo, looking at the seals, [Frederick] Seidel says, "I once wrote a poem about a girl I was in love with. I compared her to a seal. . . . It was a poetic problem," he explains, "to connect the two--the girl and the seal--because it's really almost preposterous."

This is perhaps the least preposterous comparison to be found in Seidel's work. Long regarded as a kind of elegant cult figure in poetry circles, Seidel has a reputation that precedes him into every room: decadent, name-dropper, sexual dalliant, Ducati enthusiast, son of privilege.

from Los Angeles Times: 'Poems: 1959-2009' by Frederick Seidel

"Doña Pinto?" I inquire of the nose. "Sí, and who might be asking?" The voice is frail and brittle. "Gabriela sent me," I explain.

"Gabriela who?" the nose wants to know. "Gabriela from the juice parlour." "Never heard of her." "She told me you were friends with Gabriela Mistral. Would you have five minutes to talk?" Slowly, the door slides open, revealing the nose to be attached to a short old lady in a woven dress and slippers.

from Financial Times: In search of poetry in Chile

"When the family says sugar is spent, I wear my uniform, my constabulary tunic, to march to the anxiety charged queue to suppress all dissent when I jump the queue."

The poem also talks of an army chef who drives to a local service station on a private car to buy fuel ahead of other desperate motorists.

But hardly had the elated crowd finished congratulating the poet [Julius Chingono] for his candid poetry than some police details manning the police base summoned him into the wooden structure to quiz him on the poem.

from The Zimbabwe Times: Poet detained after reciting poem

"The kingfishers sonnet is about the Scotist individuation of things," [Paul] Mariani writes of the poem's theological roots in the medieval Duns Scotus, "where…the opening lines flame out, and where things reveal themselves. . . . But more: it is about Christ playing--acting in all seriousness, at the same time delighting in the never-again-to-be-replaced distinctiveness of human beings in ten thousand separate places and revealed in the faces of those who keep God's graces":

Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves--goes itself; myself it speaks and spells
Crying What I do is me: for that I came.

I say more: the just man justices;
Keeps grace: that keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God's eye what in God's eye he is--
Christ. For Christ plays in ten thousand places
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men's faces.

from PBS: Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly: Gerard Manley Hopkins

Despite his [Andrew Motion's] agent assiduously circulating his efforts, even then the agony did not stop: "News editors don't think a poem is a story in and of itself, so they then get on the phone to as many people as it takes to find someone who doesn't like the poem--then they have their story: poet laureate writes another no-good poem."

from The Guardian: 'No writing is as hard as this'--poet laureate's parting shot

Out of respect for John Mark [Eberhart]'s wishes, no negative commentary here about The Star or its corporate parent, McClatchy. The city's paper of record has been much diminished of late, but somehow it only now feels to me like an aperture has closed, one that used to lead to poetry and humor, to a genuine love of writing and the desire to propagate that sensibility.

from Pitch Weekly: John Mark Eberhart has friends in KC

And while the rhyme may not be all that sophisticated, there's still the onomatopoeia of it: "menuteket," "meshuteket" and "mithameket" together create an experience that's "metakteket"--that goes like clockwork; in other words, the whole poem proceeds like clockwork (as the army likes to say about an operation that has gone well), and thus reflects the reality it seeks to describe. However, despite the rhythmic and encouraging prosody, the poet still lets the truth peek through: It's as if he understood that this depiction of the situation has no long-term military, operational or diplomatic significance.

from Haaretz: A poem and its interpretation

What's interesting about "Eating memories" is that the most obvious use of figurative language occurs in the last stanza where [Milena] Abrahamyan's speaker says she "bit into fruit that had been growing/in the belly of thorny mountains,/facing hot mother sun." Suddenly, the reader is given two instances, side by side of personification: that of the "belly" of the mountains and the "mother sun." Perhaps Abahamyan decides to use personification here to heighten the reader's attention to the detail that follows.

from The Armenian Reporter: The harvest of Abrahamyan's poem

"A touching incident followed. His resting place had been marked by nothing better than a rude board bearing his name and the date of his death . . . some companies of Irish-American soldiers happened to pass through the locality; and, resolving that the spot of a countryman so gifted and so faithful should be properly marked, raised by subscription a monument of Carrara marble, inscribed with a brief but eloquent epitaph."

[Richard Dalton] Williams last poem is found in [Charles Anderson] Read's book:

"Song of the Irish-American Regiments"

from The Thibodaux Daily Comet: Union troops gave Irish poet a proper gravestone

Yet the views of experts such as [Tarnya] Cooper and [David] Piper cannot be dismissed so easily.

An authentic portrait of Sir Thomas Overbury (1581–1613) was bequeathed to the Bodleian Library in Oxford in 1740. This picture bears a startling resemblance to the "Cobbe" painting (and its companions). Features such as a distinctive bushy hairline, and a slightly malformed left ear that may once have borne the weight of a jewelled earring, appear identical. Even the man's beautifully intricate lace collar, though not identical in pattern, shares overall design with "Cobbe", having square rather than rounded corners.

from The Times Literary Supplement: Shakespeare Unfound(ed)?

Great Regulars

"I don't have a personality on the page. The language doesn't allow me to have a personality. The language knows I'm a complete idiot, and it just won't allow me . . . A good writer is the medium, not the message."

Which brings us to the latest extraordinary project from this astoundingly prolific (a book a year) author [Peter Ackroyd]: a prose translation (his publishers insist on calling it a "retelling") of Geoffrey Chaucer's great poem The Canterbury Tales.

from Bryan Appleyard: The Sunday Times: The retelling of Chaucer

[Robert Sullivan's] book isn't intended to "myth-bust" Thoreau, Sullivan said. That's already been done. "The common myth that's busted is that he was a cheat, that he really didn't live alone in the woods but went back to town all the time. I'm kind of out to myth-bust the myth-busters."

Try saying that three times without taking a breath. If you did, Thoreau would enjoy it. He was a gregarious man, beloved by his friends and an enthusiastic dancer.

from Jeff Baker: The Oregonian: Boomarks: What Thoreau really meant

It cannot be burned by heat, it cannot be drowned by water, and it cannot be forced to suffer the trammels of aging.

Without this awareness and unity with one's love, or soul, the angry mob will "die for goodness, who have liv'd for crime." The speaker suggests that it is a crime against the soul not to live in it.

from Linda Sue Grimes: Shakespeare Sonnet 124

The speaker's desire always returns to the process of creating soulful masterpieces for later generations, not demonstrating his prowess to contemporaries by outward show.

The speaker also implies in the question that what he has created might, in fact, have a very short shelf life or might even bring negative criticism to him as their creator.

from Linda Sue Grimes: Shakespeare Sonnet 125

Suffering dreams, nightmares, and the traumas of birth and death repeated endlessly becomes boring and tiresome to the perfect soul that yearns to recognize its true self.

The speaker then declares that the troublesome repetitions of reincarnations can be avoided if the devotee realizes that "behind the wings of Thy blessings,/My soul can be safe in Thy keeping." If the devotee unites her soul with the Ultimate Reality, she regains the safety that that realization affords.

from Linda Sue Grimes: Yogananda's The Little Eternity

"But I tell you all this," [Ted] Hughes added, "with a hope that it will let you understand a lot of things. . . . Don't laugh it off. In 1963 you were hit even harder than me. But you will have to deal with it, just as I have had to."

Nicholas Hughes, who was not married and had no children, hanged himself March 16, Alaska State Troopers said. He was a man of science, not letters, the only member of his immediate family not to become a poet.

from Hillel Italie: Associated Press: Poet Sylvia Plath's son commits suicide in Alaska

According to the Big Bopper. . .
by Gregory Orr

More stores being built. . .
by Gregory Orr

Hoarding your joys and despairs. . .
by Gregory Orr

According to the Big Bopper. . .

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: According to the Big Bopper. . . by Gregory Orr

Anniversary: One Fine Day
by Walter McDonald

Who would sit through a plot as preposterous as ours,

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: Anniversary: One Fine Day by Walter McDonald

The Blessing
by John Updike

The room darkened, darkened until

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: The Blessing by John Updike

Introduction to Poetry
by Billy Collins

I ask them to take a poem

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: Introduction to Poetry by Billy Collins

The Loon
by James Tate

A loon woke me this morning. It was like waking up

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: The Loon by James Tate

Poem on a Line by Anne Sexton, 'We are All Writing God's Poem'
by Barbara Crooker

Today, the sky's the soft blue of a work shirt washed

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: Poem on a Line by Anne Sexton, 'We are All Writing God's Poem' by Barbara Crooker

The White Museum
by George Bilgere

My aunt was an organ donor

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: The White Museum by George Bilgere

To have a helpful companion as you travel through life is a marvelous gift. This poem by Gerald Fleming, a long-time teacher in the San Francisco public schools, celebrates just such a relationship.

Long Marriage

from Ted Kooser: American Life in Poetry: Column 208

The "white buffalo" may be drained of color by the sun-glare optics, it may be albino, or it may be a spiritual being--or all of these things. The narrator is surprised by the buffalo, but he cannot rouse the birds nor the girls, who accept this cosmos. The falling of night quiets his fears, as natural order returns. [James] Tate shows Kansas as a mythic place.

Late Harvest

from Denise Low: Ad Astra Poetry Project: James Tate

Personally, I consider the prose poem a bastardized form, an affectation, an unnecessary diversion, and a bit of revolutionary snobbery. To my way of thinking, it is as illogical to write poetry in the form of prose as it would be to write prose in the form of poetry. And, in fact, a lot of modern verse reads like prose. Here's an example of the latter, the canonized poem by William Carlos Williams, "This Is Just To Say," which appears in almost every literature text, rendered without the original line breaks:

from Anthony Maulucci: Norwich Bulletin: Writing poetry in prose form is useless and inane

Especially when it comes to artists, we should think of Elizabethan portraits not as passport photos but as album art or book-jacket portraits.

And if we accept that these paintings were exercises in image-making--in 17th-century spin doctoring--then why not embrace the Cobbe painting? Even if Shakespeare didn't actually sit for it, this is probably how he, like any other literary figure of the time, preferred to imagine himself: aloof, sexy, mysterious. And, more to the point, this is how most of us would prefer to imagine him too.

from Charles McGrath: The New York Times: Is That Really You, Sweet Prince

Passing on by Andrew Motion

from The Guardian: The Saturday poem: Passing on by Andrew Motion

The other part of the problem is to do with reception. In every case, after I'd written these eight poems, I sent them to my agent, who sent them to newspapers, where they landed on news editors' desks. News editors don't think a poem is a story in and of itself, so they then get on the phone to as many people as it takes to find someone who doesn't like the poem--then they have their story: poet laureate writes another no-good poem.

I'm not the first laureate to complain about this.

from Andrew Motion: The Guardian: Yet once more, O ye laurels

Zan [Aizong] said he had consulted a lawyer and would seek to defend his rights through the legal system.

"I don't know what the reason was. First they let me through. Then they didn't let me through. It was like a game of blind man's buff."

After Zan went back through immigration, his two-way pass allowing him into Hong Kong was stamped with the word "Canceled."

from Luisetta Mudie: Radio Free Asia: China Stops Blogger From Leaving

Oscar Wilde begins his prison meditation, De Profundis, with an aphorism, not the light and witty kind for which his plays are famous, but one which resonates with bleak experience: "Suffering is one very long moment." Having reached the turning point in his despair, the disgraced writer goes on to set out his plan for transforming that experience into a different kind of art and a new kind of life, borrowing Dante's title La Vita Nuova for his own projected resurrection. The Ballad of Reading Gaol, this week's choice, is the fulfilment of that plan.

from Carol Rumens: The Guardian: Books blog: Poem of the week: The Ballad of Reading Gaol

[Anne] Carson's very good at translating what a great writer means. Here are the Watchman's famous first lines from Agamemnon, which nearly word for word, might be:

Oh gods, I beg you to deliver me from this task.
For a year I have been on guard
On the roof of the house of the sons of Atreus,
resting on my arms, in the manner of a dog.

Not poetry. Here's Carson:

Gods, free me from this grind!
It's one long year I'm waiting watching waiting--
propped on the roof of Atreus, chin in my paws like a dog

Energy, humor, the yawn of the watchman's boredom. We hear the wordplay of Aeschylus, the tough irony of Sophocles, and the perverse subversion of Euripides.

from John Timpane: Philadelpia Inquirer: Voices of the past, in shimmering new translations

No Other Side
by Doug Payne

You die and find

from Kimberly Willson: CounterPunch: Poets' Basement: Puthoff, Payne, Gaffney and Gray

Written on the Wall at Chang's Hermitage
By Tu Fu

It is Spring in the mountains.

from Kimberly Willson: CounterPunch: Poets' Basement: Three Poems of Tu Fu

One senses that the father has always taken the older son's dutifulness for granted, and that, perhaps, the older son has been so dutiful in order to win some greater measure of his father's love and approval. In other words, the family dynamics at work here do not seem at all simple and clear-cut.

I suspect that this parable, like a poem, means what it says precisely as it says it, and that to reduce it to a "message" is like "explicating" a poem by translating it into prose. It is, instead, one of those things we should think on, letting it sink into the well of our consciousness like a Zen koan, where it might bring about not merely an idea or a moral, but a radical change in outlook

from Frank Wilson: When Falls the Coliseum: That's What He Said: Great teachers and infinite caprice

by Assef Al-Jundi

How light can I get?

from Express-News: Poetry: 'Silly Romantic'

As a youth, [John] Updike was an avid reader of “popular fiction, especially humor and mysteries,” according to his Academy of Achievement biography. His mother encouraged to him draw and write. He was president and covaledictorian of his class at Shillington High School and earned a tuition scholarship to Harvard University. There, he contributed stories and cartoons to the humor magazine The Harvard Lampoon, and spent summers working as a copy boy for the Reading Eagle. He met his first wife, Mary E. Pennington, at Harvard; they married before graduation in 1954.

from findingDulcinea: Happy Birthday: Happy Birthday, John Updike, Prolific Novelist, Critic and Poet

This poem makes clever use of the villanelle's power to make the same words sound new each time we hear them. The line about the lover's blue eyes is full of naughty double entendre in the second stanza, emotional vulnerability and pain in the fifth stanza, and sweet sincerity in the last stanza. There is a strong and subtle control of tone at work here, and a willingness to go through the kind of journey of discovery that a real poem can put us through.

from The Guardian: Poetry Workshop: Love poems

By Aimee Nezhukumatathil

Kerala, India

land snails the size of hockey pucks

from The Kansas City Star: Between the Lines: 'By the Light of a Single Worm'

by Paul Birtill

My dad finally came home from his travels

from Morning Star: Well Versed: Fifties

by Lena Katina

The dark Danube is covered with

from MR Zine: Yugoslavia

So, So It Begins Means It Begins
by Mary Jo Bang

from The New Yorker: Poetry: So, So It Begins Means It Begins

When the Snake Became a Man
by Garret Keizer

from The New Yorker: Poetry: When the Snake Became a Man

By Cornelius Eady

The furnace wheezes like a drenched lung.

from PBS: Newshour: Weekly Poem: 'Handymen'

[by Leslie Morgan]

Spring sun, come lift the icy chill

from Portsmouth Herald News: Poem: Spring sun, come lift the icy chill

Elizabeth Smither is a poet of standing in her native New Zealand, and included in a new anthology of New Zealand poets from Carcanet. This poem is guaranteed to come into your mind on your next long beach walk. Learn it now, so you can take it with you.

The sea question

from The Scotsman: Poem of the Week: Elizabeth Smither

"The Age"
By Gail Mazur

from Slate: "The Age" --By Gail Mazur

The first third or so of this poem was written 28 years ago, here in San Francisco, in the same apartment I'm in now. I was never quite happy with the rest of it and only recently figured out how I might complement those earlier lines. The "hook" or "event" precipitating the resurrection and completion of the poem was the--to me--strange phenomenon of the big black Google bus at the foot of the block every morning and evening, picking up Google employees, then dropping them off at night. The rest is, I hope, self-explanatory.

from The Washington Post: Poet's Choice: Hollyhocks in the Fog by August Kleinzahler

Poetic Obituaries

In more recent times [Lorri] Alexander, who was the President of the National Emancipation Trust, organised the Miss African Heritage pageant but he was forced to discontinue it a few years ago because of the lack of sponsorship. Last year during Carifesta he launched one of his four poetry books, the Moon Gazer, and his wife said he was very heartened when the book subsequently became part of the school curriculum.

from Stabroek News: Lorri Alexander passes away

"With my many accomplishments I feel that I have demonstrated that women not only have a role in business, but also have the compassion, grit, and drive to excel in the workplace and community," [Helen] Bale wrote in the Oct. 4 column.

Helen Tierney was born Christmas Day 1920 and considered herself a native of West Paterson, New Jersey. She was only 4 years old when she earned her first paycheck for a four-line poem published in the local paper.

"This became my source of income throughout my childhood; I could count on at least 50 cents each week for either prose or poetry," Bale wrote.

from Auburn Journal: Longtime Journal columnist, former editor Bale passes

Born in 1936 in Sivasagar district, Barthakur was among the acclaimed poet-lyricists of the State. He penned such immortal numbers as Sonar kharu nalage mok biyar babe aai and Aita tumi jerengar--both sung by the great singer Dipali Barthakur, who is his sister. Barthakur, in fact, is remembered most for the enduring combination that he had formed with Dipali Barthakur. His niece Sangeeta Barthakur also lent her voice to a number of his evergreen compositions.

from The Assam Tribune: Noted lyricist B Barthakur passes away

[Margaret Carpenter Bauer] could write a poem, give a lesson, have a beautiful yard or bake a pie with equal ease. She was a beautiful seamstress. It seemed there was nothing she couldn't do with a sewing machine. She truly loved the out-of-doors as well. Working in her yard was one of her favorite things

from The Spectrum: Margaret Carpenter Bauer

The perspective of the books of Catlettsburg, Ky., native son Billy C. Clark, have something to teach people today.

Growing up poor in eastern Kentucky during the Great Depression, Clark was on his own at 11 and working to put himself through school, living on the third floor of the courthouse building.

Clark, who was 80, the author of 11 books and many short stories and poems, died Sunday at his Farmdale, Va., home.

from The Herald-Dispatch: 'Appalachian Treasure' Billy C. Clark dies

[Ruby Hartley's] death marks the end of an era for the Gazette's Letters Page, to which, over a 30-year period, Mrs. Hartley submitted hundreds of handwritten letters and poems.

Impassioned, thoughtful but always filled with warmth, her missives are sure to be missed by our readers.

from The Shields Gazette: Last word from Gazette stalwart Ruby, 95

[J. Kline Hobbs] wrote plays for regional theaters, but said in a 1977 interview that few were interested in original works. However, he found work acting, directing and producing projects and publishing poetry and was, for a time, artist in residence at both Olivet College and Kalamazoo College and did some teaching.

from Battle Creek Enquirer: B.C. poet, playwright dead at 80

[Nicholas Hughes] was only a baby when his mother [Sylvia Plath] died but she had already sketched out what he meant to her in one of her late poems.

In Nick and the Candlestick, published in her posthumous collection Ariel, she wrote: "You are the one/Solid the spaces lean on, envious./You are the baby in the barn."

Later his father wrote of how, after Plath's death, their son's eyes "Became wet jewels,/The hardest substance of the purest pain/As I fed him in his high white chair". Neither he, nor his sister nor their Poet Laureate father could ever fully escape the shadow cast by Plath's suicide in 1963 and the personality cult that then sprang up around her memory.

from The Times: Nicholas Hughes, Sylvia Plath's son commits suicide
also One Poet's Notes: Sylvia Plath and Nicholas Hughes: Mother and Son
also Daily News-Miner: Nicholas Hughes, son of major poets, emerged as prominent Alaska biologist
also Daily Mail: Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath's son commits suicide, 46 years after she gassed herself

[Khudai Khidmatgar Muhammad Iqbal Iqbal, a.k.a. Babu,] was a staunch follower of Bacha Khan and he had returned the cheque sent to him by Ziaul Haq when he was in admitted to a hospital in Karachi. He was always using the word Pakhtunkhwa for the NWFP in his conversations, meetings and poetry. He was also the General Secretary of Ulasi Adabi Tolana (UAT), Mardan, which was organised by well-known poet and nationalist leader, Ajmal Khattak, about 36 years ago. He also wrote several dramas, songs for radio and PTV. His books 'Da Livala Muhabat, Da Rabab Tang' (poetry), 'Teli Pehrona'(shot story) and 'Palwasha' (poetry) have already been published.

from The News International: Noted poet Iqbal Iqbal passes away

[Michael Elden Jones] also attended Ivy Tech and Ball State University.

Michael enjoyed studying films, listening to music, writing poetry, spending time with family and friends, traveling, golf, cars, motorcycles, dancing and gourmet cooking. He was a competitive body builder and a writer.

from The Star Press: Michael Elden Jones, 26

John [Leech] was one of the rarest things in this world: a genuine philosophical Bohemian in the very best sense of the word who created an austere unpretentious Cafe which was, by his design, a magical safe zone for artists, musicians, poets, scientists, intellectuals and outsiders of all stripes . . .

. . . What was most unusual about him was that John had the backbone to truly stick up for freedom of expression and freedom of conscience while a fascist Reaganistic culture rampaged everywhere without.

from Los Angeles Metblogs: John Leech, founder of Onyx Cafe, passes away

But from her [Jane Mayhall's] grief sprang a storm of poems, which became the foundation of "Sleeping Late on Judgment Day."

Reviewing the collection in The New York Times Book Review, Andy Brumer praised Ms. Mayhall's "love poems of excruciating honesty," commending their "philosophical insights into love and its inevitable loss."

Among the most striking of these is "The Gilded Shadow," here in its entirety:

from The New York Times: Jane Mayhall, Poet Who Gained Prominence Late in Life, Is Dead at 90

While preparing for his funeral, Travis [Oaks]' small, close-knit family shares memories of the boy raised in Calgary, who was artistic, wrote poetry and had many friends, says his mom.

from Canoe: Man killed by cop called 'no monster'

[Esther Royland] was a homemaker and also worked part-time for businesses, including Rainbow Lanes and the Forest Grove Church of Christ.

She enjoyed bowling, arts and crafts, the beach, and playing the organ. She was a poet and enjoyed reading and writing poetry.

from The Hillsboro Argus: Esther Royland, 88, service on Saturday

The territory lost one of its most highly revered and spirited voices Tuesday with the passing of former Sen. Elmo D. Roebuck, politician, poet, storyteller extraordinaire, dancer, teacher, musician, friend.

from St. Thomas Source: Former Sen. Elmo D. Roebuck Dead at 74

[Maeann C. Stevens] was a professional and amateur bassoonist, performing for philharmonics, orchestras and chamber groups.

She moved to New Hampshire in 2001 and was a member of the Writers Association. She was a gifted poet whose poetry is scheduled to be published. She was responsible for establishing the Warner Shape Note Singers.

from Concord Monitor: Maeann C. Stevens

Edith [E. Vossekuil] had a very loving nature and enjoyed her role as housewife and mother. She was a faithful wife and dedicated mother who loved to cook and bake. Edith was a loving grandmother and great-grandmother who cherished precious time with her family. She was a poet who enjoyed writing poems about her children and grandchildren.

from Fond du Lac Reporter: Edith E. Vossekuil


News at Eleven

Then, soon after his [Ly Van Aggadipo's] death last year, friends found a collection of the monk's poetry tucked under stacks of old Buddhist texts. On worn pages were handwritten, carefully crafted poems describing his memories of witnessing infant executions, starvation at labor camps

Now followers are seeking to publish the poetry, even as the discovery of this vivid historical record of the atrocities has reopened for many a painful time they still have not reconciled in their own lives.

from The Lowell Sun: In verse concealed, Lowell monk chronicled Khmer Rouge horrors

And the parallels go further. Like Kafka, [Samuel] Beckett is always complaining of his body, as though the failure to write as he would like has a direct physical effect: his teeth are bad, his neck hurts, he has pleurisy, his feet are giving him hell. Like Kafka he is paralysed and bored. Acedia hangs heavily over him. And as Kafka blamed Prague, so Beckett blames Dublin: "This tired abstract anger--inarticulate passive opposition--always the same thing in Dublin". Kafka went to see Rudolf Steiner and Martin Buber, but the sages were no help; Beckett is psychoanalysed in London by Bion, and feels better for it, but soon confesses that it has changed nothing. Kafka travelled to Italy, Germany and France and dreamed of one day settling in Palestine, all to get away from his father; with his father dead, Beckett's mother grows more and more possessive, and getting away from Dublin becomes getting away from Mother.

from The Times Literary Supplement: Letters from Beckett

[Ruth] Padel's vision also includes [Charles] Darwin's father, his sisters, his beloved and anxious wife Emma, his children, his fellow evolutionist Alfred Russel Wallace, and even (of course) an orangutan in London Zoo: "She took bread from a visitor, tilting her brow/at the keeper, to see whether this was allowed."

The emotional centre of the book is the Darwins' stoic marriage, shaken by the divisive problem of Emma's religious belief, and torn by the terrible death of their 10-year-old daughter Annie. This is dramatised in a series of bleak and painful poems, most notably "The Devil's Chaplain", in which hopes of a Christian heaven are set against relentless phrases from chapter four of The Origin - "no purpose, no design . . . blind, pitiless/indifference".

from The Guardian: Giving to a blind man eyes

Actually, [John] Balaban's translation of Ho Xuan Huong's poems helped many American readers understand the fate and strong response full of femininity of the Vietnamese women of the past. They were known for not only having virtues due to close ties to family education and principles, but also having strong characters. They dared to spell out the taboos of society such as sex and an intimate sexual life, etc., through poems which are pure, sensitive and graphic.

from Nhan Dan: Poet loves Vietnamese poems

In Lorca y el mundo gay (Lorca and the Gay World), published in Spanish on Monday, [Ian] Gibson describes how the poet's works were censored to conceal his sexuality. It was not until the late 1980s that Lorca's sexual identity became grudgingly acknowledged, in the face of denials and evasions. Gibson blames the decades of silence on a deep-seated Spanish homophobia.

from The Independent: Lorca was censored to hide his sexuality, biographer reveals

It was under these conditions that modern Kurdish poetry emerged. The first notable modern poet was Nûrî Sheikh Sâlih (1905-1958), who also brought the ideas of modernism to literary criticism. Because of increasing political involvement, however, Nûrî Sheikh Sâlih never really reached the influential and important position within Kurdish literature which he otherwise certainly would have attained.

The poet who undoubtedly brought about a revolution in Kurdish poetry, was Goran (1904-1962), also called the father of Kurdish modernism. At this time Kurdish poetry was loaded with hundreds of years of foreign heritage, especially Arabic. Goran cleared his poetry of this influence and gave it a form, rhythm, language and content which were based on Kurdish reality and Kurdish culture, nature and folkloric traditions.

from The Kurdish Globe: Classical and Modern Kurdish Poetry--Part III
also The Kurdish Globe: Classical and Modern Kurdish Poetry--Part I
also The Kurdish Globe: Classical and Modern Kurdish Poetry--Part II

[Yevgenia] Savelyeva refused to recite the poems that were found extremist, citing fears that her telephone was bugged by law enforcement officers.

Poems posted on Savelyeva's blog, written under the nickname "nibaal," included one about shakhids, the term meaning "martyrs" that is often mistakenly used to describe Islamic suicide bombers. The poem, addressed to a shakhid, calls on them to "hold the detonator tight" and says they will die "heroes" of their motherland and go to paradise.

from The Moscow Times: Poet Found Guilty of Extremism

Even more than his work, however, English students frequently took issue with [Christian] Bök's occasionally radical views on literature. During Thursday's panel discussion, he pulled no punches against other modern poets. Responding to Bök's claim that poetry hasn't progressed since the 50's, Arnold said, "I don't think you can really argue that poetry isn't modern if it's written today, in a modern voice, in a modern language."

Senior Mary Volk, also an English major, agreed. "It didn't seem like he cared about poetry in a traditional sense," she said. "Poetry needs to express something, and he wasn't really doing that." She acknowledged Bök's skill and virtuosity at his craft, but said that the craft was not poetry, but "parlor tricks."

from The Stentor: Noise, sound, or poetry? LFC reacts

The poet's task is both to dramatize our most intimate and intense feelings, and at the same time give us a perspective on them. Stonington's great poet James Merrill once compared the process to sitting in your Honda while it goes through the car wash. Calmly inside, you watch a virtual storm of lashing torrents and winds. That's it exactly! [--J.D. McClatchy]

from The Day: Five Questions With J.D. McClatchy

Deprivation taught the Mukarung family to manage with bare essentials. "We have trained ourselves to live in Kathmandu on 5,000 to 6,000 rupees a month," he said. That includes the rent of two rooms and a kitchen, schooling for his daughter and food for the family.

After having six published works in the market, [Shrawan] Mukarung is fully aware that publishers generally exploit writers.

"There is royalty of 40 percent to writers, but that is after deducting the cost of publishing and also after the distributor decides that he has stolen enough from the writer," he said.

from Republica: Poet who fought a despot

The government eventually shored up agricultural lenders and streamlined the farm bankruptcy process. But the lifeline came too late for many families.

Now Washington is opening Treasury's vaults to kick-start the economy and stabilize financial institutions. The contrast in the speed of the federal response is stirring frustration on the range and enlivening poems. As [Yvonne] Hollenbeck says of her fellow ranchers:

"Stock Exchange" to them is to trade a horse or cow;
their market is the Sale Barn while on Wall Street it's the "Dow."
There's never been a program to bail out the livestock man;
when things get tough their motto is to "Hang on if you can!"

from Los Angeles Times: They're well-versed in hard times

Great Regulars

So I'm asking if you would please make nominations for the Oregon State Library/"Poetry Northwest" Oregon 150 List of Poetry Books that are highly recommended for Oregonians to read. Send your nominations to in the following format: Name of Poet, Title of Book, Publisher, Year of Publication. With Jim's help, we'll have a list compiled for the people of Oregon in the coming months. For now, a poem from one book I'd recommend for the list, "Incredible Good Fortune" by Portland's Ursula K. Le Guin.

The Cactus Wren

from David Biespiel: The Oregonian: Bookmarks: Name your favorite poet for Oregon's 150th

Here are three ventriloquized verses, tap-room utterances which amuse in simple ways (malapropisms, "phonetic" rendering of speech) but have a curious, collective emotional impact, too. Born in Liverpool in 1946, [Peter] Reading has been described as an "anti-romantic" poet; he is also perhaps one of the finest, most formally versatile poets of the late twentieth century. The TLS has been fortunate to be able to publish so much of his work.


from Michael Caines: The Times Literary Supplement: Poem of the Week: Eavesdropped

Some philosophers thought that God's relationship with black folk had been especially worthy of equivocation. How could a kind, well-meaning God allow some of His children to be held in such low regard by so many of His other children?

But this speaker has a different take from those who want to equivocate about God. If God is so unjust with black folk, why would be allow "this curious thing:/To make a poet black, and bid him sing"?

from Linda Sue Grimes: Cullen's Yet Do I Marvel

In the opening quatrain of sonnet 122, the speaker declares that his gift of poetry, which is represented in tablets "full character'd," is also part of his "brain," that is, they abide "with lasting memory." He expands his memory's ability retain the love that inspired his works "even to eternity."

The speaker insists that the mental imprint of his poems will remain in his memory, even without his having the physical replicas in his presence.

from Linda Sue Grimes: Shakespeare Sonnet 122

The speaker understands that the nature of humankind includes the act of creation, which has no limits. From the creation of little songs, or sonnets, to the enormous ingenuity that brought forth the pyramids, there exists a constant stream of creativity.

The artist's work does not change with "Time" as other human activity does. The artist's creations result from the artist's self, because they are manifestations of the creative soul. While the physical body and even the mind may come under Time's sway, the soul does not.

from Linda Sue Grimes: Shakespeare Sonnet 123

The second verse paragraph grows into a chant: "You may hide behind the ocean,/You may hide behind delusion,/You may hide behind life." The speaker demonstrates in his refrain the nature of Maya delusion that hides the Blessed One from the speaker's sense awareness. It seems that the Divine is hiding everywhere, behind every form from the gemstones to the bodies of all humans.

from Linda Sue Grimes: Yogananda's Breathe in Me

So, P.N., put your formidable researching skills to better use and research one or several poems that demonstrate individual and societal complexities. Or simply go to U.S. Poet Laureate, Kay Ryan. I know, she's endorsed by the state, but I think her poems can help your work--they can at least offer a refreshing alternative to those dry academic papers you're reading, especially "The Fabric of Life," which realizes that nothing we have learned can, as you say, "pin human behavior down:"

It is very stretchy.

from Kristen Hoggart: The Smart Set: Ask a Poet: World View

For both writers, the poetry came from God, but different ones. [Nathaniel] Hawthorne's was a Calvinist creation, [Flannery] O'Connor's a Roman Catholic one.

In his new biography, Brad Gooch focuses on O'Connor's deep-seated faith as the mainspring of her emotional and intellectual life. Writing on novelists of the 1950s, John Updike described O'Connor's fiction as "Christian orthodoxy eminently, provocatively represented." Her life was cut short by lupus: O'Connor died at 39 in 1964 after a 14-year battle with the same disease that killed her father when he was 45.

from Bob Hoover: The Philadelphia Inquirer: A writer who steered life toward poetry

[James] Purdy published poetry, drawings, the plays "Children Is All" and "Enduring Zeal," the novels "Mourners Below" and "Narrow Rooms," and the collection "Moe's Villa and Other Stories." Much of his work fell out of print; several books were reissued in recent years. In the spring, Ivan Dee will issue a collection of his plays.

Gore Vidal, Tennessee Williams and Dorothy Parker were among his fans, but Purdy won few awards and was little known to the general public. He spent most of his latter years in a one-room Brooklyn walk-up apartment, bitterly outside what he called "the anesthetic, hypocritical, preppy and stagnant New York literary establishment."

from Hillel Italie: Associated Press: James Purdy, author of underground classics, dies

Adam's Curse
by William Butler Yeats

We sat together at one summer's end,

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: Adam's Curse by William Butler Yeats

Cold Poem
by Jim Harrison

A cold has put me on the fritz, said Eugene O'Neill,

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: Cold Poem by Jim Harrison

The Meaning of Life
by Nancy Fitzgerald

There is a moment just before

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: The Meaning of Life by Nancy Fitzgerald

New York Notes
by Harvey Shapiro

1. Caught on a side street in heavy traffic, I said to the cabbie, I should have

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: New York Notes by Harvey Shapiro

Ode on My Mother's Handwriting
by Barbara Hamby

Her a's are like small rolls warm from the oven, yeasty,

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: Ode on My Mother's Handwriting by Barbara Hamby

Ode to the Potato
by Barbara Hamby

"They eat a lot of French fries here," my mother

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: Ode to the Potato by Barbara Hamby

Suburban Bison
by James Tate

Joshua and I had decided to go bowling.

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: Suburban Bison by James Tate

People singing, not professionally but just singing for joy, it's a wonderful celebration of life. In this poem by Sebastian Matthews of North Carolina, a father and son happen upon a handful of men singing in a cafe, and are swept up into their pleasure and community.

Barbershop Quartet,
East Village Grille

from Ted Kooser: American Life in Poetry: Column 207

Especially when it comes to artists, we should think of Elizabethan portraits not as passport photos but as album art or book-jacket portraits.

And if we accept that these paintings were exercises in image-making--in 17th-century spin doctoring--then why not embrace the Cobbe painting? Even if Shakespeare didn't actually sit for it, this is probably how he, like any other literary figure of the time, preferred to imagine himself: aloof, sexy, mysterious. And, more to the point, this is how most of us would prefer to imagine him too.

from Charles McGrath: The New York Times: Is That Really You, Sweet Prince?

"That has given way now, thank goodness. Now the kinds of poetry being written are as diverse as the culture in which it is being written. This seems perfectly right and sensible to me. We seem to be becoming a more tolerant society in respect to what a poem might be. The challenge now is to help young people develop an appropriate language through which to explore particular kinds of writing rather than becoming too insular. There needs to be a doorway into poetry for everyone."

from Andrew Motion: News Shopper: Interview: Poet Laureate Andrew Motion

I had always thought of Hamlet's melancholy as existential. I saw his sense that "the world is out of joint" as vague and philosophical. He's a depressive, self-obsessed young man who can't stop chewing at big metaphysical questions. But reading the play after my mother's death, I felt differently. Hamlet's moodiness and irascibility suddenly seemed deeply connected to the fact that his father has just died, and he doesn't know how to handle it. He is radically dislocated, stumbling through the world, trying to figure out where the walls are while the rest of the world acts as if nothing important has changed.

from Meghan O'Rourke: Slate: Hamlet's Not Depressed. He's Grieving
also Meghan O'Rourke: Slate: "Normal" vs. "Complicated" Grief
also Meghan O'Rourke: Slate: Dreaming of the Dead

A ferocious playfulness and self-mockery characterizes the poem, supersaturating its incantational language: the meaning of "die" as orgasm, here bizarrely linked to a prelude of prayer; the tradition of preaching at the execution place; compact apothegms like "Wonder hinders love and hate" or "Hope went on the wheel of lust." Greville ultimately seems to relish letting his "conceit" go wild, then reining it in with terse moral formulas. That internal, psychological drama heightens the external drama of a sexual encounter that doesn't quite happen.

[Fulke Greville's] Caelica 56: "All My Senses, Like Beacon's Flame"

from Robert Pinsky: Slate: "All My Senses, Like Beacon's Flame"

Michael Longley has said that he considers his nature writing to be his most political. Such writing doesn't colonise the landscape with opinion or ideology. It leaves it open for the reader. Persephone is a poem about spring. Perhaps it's also a parable about creativity, and the creator's need to lie fallow and be "numskulled" at times.

Etymology, of course, links hibernation and Hibernia (the Latin name for Ireland). One should be wary of opening too many skylights in a poem's delicate brain. But, in the shadow of recent events in Northern Ireland, Persephone seems to whisper to us that, although untimely snow and murderous frosts beset the northern spring, the promise of summer has not been abandoned.


from Carol Rumens: The Guardian: Books blog: Poem of the week: Persephone

Some seem unable to realise that the laureateship is not primarily an opportunity for personal advancement. Arguably, it's the reverse. I suspect that the laureate is much more like a sacrifice: a sort of Fisher King sent out to secure the health of poetry as a whole, often at real cost to his own work.

from Fiona Sampson: The Guardian: The next poet laureate has a hard act to follow

Many years ago I found myself in a relationship that presented regular opportunities for outbursts of rage. I routinely availed myself of those opportunities until, one day, I just happened to notice that there wasn't anything pleasant about rage. Quite the contrary. It was awful. So I paused to consider why I was letting myself feel so bad and quickly realized that my anger had its source in a toxic combination of injury and impotence: I felt hurt and there really wasn't anything I could do about it. The rage was simply fuming over what I would do if there were anything I could do.

from Frank Wilson: When Falls the Coliseum: That's What He Said: What do we mean by 'happy'?

Despite the "legend" that the manuscript was written in just three weeks, "the book actually had a much longer, bumpier journey from inspiration to publication, complete with multiple rewrites, repeated rejections and a dog who" reportedly ate the last bits.

[Paul] Marion told NPR, "Kerouac cultivated this myth that he was this spontaneous prose man, and that everything that he ever put down was never changed, and that's not true. He was really a supreme craftsman, and devoted to writing and the writing process."

from findingDulcinea: Happy Birthday: Happy Birthday, Jack Kerouac, Beat Author of "On the Road"

Fin by Michael Donaghy

from The Guardian: The Saturday poem: Fin by Michael Donaghy

Decorum: A Study

by Alison Powell

A person could be at a loss. The width, spools and yardage, meringue

from Guernica: Poetry: Decorum: A Study

By Peter Seymour

We shared ourselves

from The Kansas City Star: Between the Lines: 'Forbidden'

by Carl Phillips

from The New Yorker: Poetry: Civilization

The Foundation
by C.K. Williams

from The New Yorker: Poetry: The Foundation

Mom as Fly
by Terese Svoboda

from The New Yorker: Poetry: Mom as Fly

[by Stephen Sundin]

She said her area of Ireland was poorer

from The Oregonian: Poetry: In County Clare

By Nathalie Handal

Maybe when you are ready for music

from PBS: Newshour: Weekly Poem: 'Brokenmusic'

[by Christopher Saiauski while in Grade 1]

Green Berets

from Portsmouth Herald News: Poem: Green Berets

John Manson writes in Scots and English, and is one of the contributors to a vibrant new anthology of contemporary Scots and Gaelic poems from Dumfries and Galloway, Chuckies fir the Cairn. His translations into Scots have a distinctively clean, sparse eloquence which particularly suits this poem of loss.

San Martino Del Carso frae the Italian o Giuseppe Ungaretti (1888-1970)

from The Scotsman: Poem of the Week: John Manson

I read this poem at the ceremony commemorating the 200th anniversary of the United States Capitol and the restoration of the Statue of Freedom to the Capitol dome on October 23, 1993. It was first published in the Congressional Record of the same day. [--Rita Dove]

Lady Freedom Among Us

from The Washington Post: Poet's Choice: 'Lady Freedom Among Us'

Poetic Obituaries

[Annie Doolittle Ballard] love to read poems, a lot of which she wrote herself.

from The Marion Star: Aunt will be missed

Mrs. [Clara L.] Barnes was known for her sense of style, and enjoyed wearing pretty dresses and elaborate hats. Her favorite pastimes were writing poetry and singing.

She was a member of St. Philip's Baptist Church, Port Richmond, where she belonged to the Guiding Light Singers, Senior Choir and Missionary Society.

from Staten Island News: Clara Barnes

[Justin Danchick] was a gifted writer who won a poetry contest as a child and took writing and psychology courses in college, he said. Later, he twice traveled to India to study with a guru named Amma, he said.

"He was on a quest to find contentment and spiritual ease; to quiet the demons," his father said. "He was very bright."

from Santa Cruz Sentinel: Justin Danchick, whose body was found in Aptos Creek, told friends he was an inch from the bridge

Others called [Marc] Diab a hero who taught them "when you want something, you have to work for it and you should never give up."

The last page of Diab's large, colourful funeral program was reserved for three poems and songs written by the soldier himself.

"This is the time we fall hard onto shaken knees/Praying and begging the lord for a second chance," he writes in one entitled "The Moment."

"Veins awaken, yet pumping and heart full of tears/My life is so short in time, it only lasts a glance."

from CJFW Country 1031 FM: Trooper Marc Diab remembered as a lofty dreamer hoping for global peace

Born a gardener, who spent a lifetime caring for flowers, he died without a single petal in his pocket.

That, you bet, readily passes off as a one-line tragedy.

This, in a way, is the story of my kumpadre, Javier "Abeng" Dizon, who will be interred in Olongapo City this morning.

Abeng, a village bard, has passed on without a single line of his recited masterpieces remembered.

from Philippine Daily Inquirer: Requiem for Abeng, secret sportsman, village poet

The 40-year-old [Matthew Hilton-Watson] also worked on the Honors Program, helped organize a "Poetry Under the Stars" program to showcase foreign languages and took a group of students on an alternative spring break in Montreal, according to U-M Flint officials.

from Detroit Free Press: U-M Flint professor dies after collapsing in class

Bill [Makey] was an avid reader, enjoying fiction and poetry. He successfully memorized many poems and would readily recite them for an audience. His favorite poet was Robert Service.

from The Siuslaw News: William H. Makey

[Patricia Ruth Morse] enjoyed reading, doing crosswords, and dabbled in writing poetry. Those that knew her knew that being with her family and friends was the true joy that she adored. She also found comfort through her animals, Buddy Lewis and Mariah.

from The Lincoln County Record: Patricia Ruth Morse

[Mary Pryor] taught English at MSUM for 27 years, retiring in 1992. She published several chapbooks of poetry.

Roland Dille, former MSUM president, described Pryor as an "occasional poet," meaning she wrote about things that happened to her and in her community.

"Almost anything that happened in Moorhead had a poem by her," he said.

from The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead: Retired professor, writer Mary Pryor dies

[James Purdy's] nearly 20 novels and numerous short stories and plays either enchanted or baffled critics with their gothic treatment of small-town innocents adrift in a corrupt and meaningless world, his distinctive blend of plain speech with ornate, florid locutions, and the hallucinatory quality of his often degraded scenes.

"I can describe my books as I see them as American, imaginative, symbolic," he told an interviewer for the reference work World Authors.

from The New York Times: James Purdy, Darkly Comic Writer, Dies at 94

[Guen Smith] also wrote weekly articles for the local newspaper and contributed articles to the Salt Lake Tribune. Guen was a prolific writer and wrote beautiful poems, stories and music.

from San Juan Record: Guen Lyman Smith

In prison Daud [Turki] led hunger strikes of prisoners to win basic rights but when a policewoman greeted him normally with "Good Morning" he wrote her a poem. I don't think there is another prisoner anywhere who wrote a poem to a prison warden.

Daud was freed after 12 years in prison by the prisoner-exchange deal with Ahmed Gibril in 1984. He returned to his home in Wadi Nisnas in Haifa and continued to write revolutionary poetry which was broadcast by the "Voice of the People" Communist Radio station in Lebanon.

from Alternative Information Center: Euolgy to Daud Turki

In 1959 she [Blanca Varela] published her first volume of poetry, "Ese puerto existe," followed in 1963 by "Luz de dia" and in 1971 by "Valses y otras confesiones."

Varela was honored in 2007 with Spain's Queen Sofia Prize for Ibero-American Poetry.

She had also been awarded the Octavio Paz Prize in Poetry and Essay in 2001 and was the first woman to win the Federico Garcia Lorca City of Granada International Poetry Prize in 2006.

from Latin American Herald Tribune: Peruvian Poet Blanca Varela Dies

[James Whitmore] was an idiotic cavalry officer in Waterhole Three (1967) and mixed comic roles with more serious parts, as in the doom-laden cavalry Western, Chuka (1967), and a tough cop film, Madigan (1968), which later became a television series (without Whitmore). He also donned a monkey skin as an elder in Planet of the Apes (1968), and went to sea as Admiral Halsey in Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970).

On stage he impersonated the poet Walt Whitman in a dramatic reading at Garden City, New York, and played an attorney again in Inquest, a play on Broadway about the atomic spies the Rosenbergs.

from Telegraph: James Whitmore


News at Eleven

When China's leading intellectuals boldly launched their 'Charter 08' in December 2008 calling for political reform, Woeser was the only Tibetan to sign the Charter amongst the original 300 prominent Chinese signatories. During last November's Asia-Europe Summit in Beijing, Woeser was placed under house arrest again and this is likely to be repeated this year during 2009's "sensitive" anniversary periods such as 10th March 2009--50 years since the Dalai Lama fled Tibet and 4th June 2009--the 20 year anniversary of Tiananmen.

First and foremost a poet and writer, now a new volume of translations of Woeser's poetry is available to English readers thanks to the efforts of scholar and translator A.E. Clark. Tibet's True Heart, published by Ragged Banner Press, brings together original translations of 42 poems written by Woeser spanning a period of 20 years.

from The Comment Factory: Woeser, Tibet's most famous poet and intellectual dissident, is now available in English translation and should be read by all freethinkers

Beyond business and investment, Dubai has uniquely situated itself to create new literary leanings and revive the tradition of poetry in the Arabian Peninsula through the currently Dubai International Festival: One Thousand Poets, One Language. With an international open cultural scene, Dubai has embraced poetry from world literatures in a phenomenon described by poets as "a giant stride in the history of poetry." The festival, the brainchild of the Muhammad Bin Rashid Foundation, seeks to achieve literary intercultural dialogue, organizers say. The Festival has come to make poetry connect world’s cultures in and enrich "the poetic and cultural life," they say.

from Saudi Gazette: Dubai Poetry Festival: New ground for world literature

Poetry is the apex of culture, the spire of civilisations. It is the scalpel of emotion and the anvil of thought. It whispers and it bellows the unsayable with mere words.

How does it manage that? You can't teach being a poet, you can't train to be one. I was once a judge in a poetry competition, and I can't tell you how many people who aren't poets write it.

from The Sunday Times: Poetry is the cornerstone of civilisation

Nor is he the poet who loved only one woman, Beatrice; here we have him burning in pain for an unidentified lover--or would-be lover: "My rash soul, working to its own destruction,/Depicts her as she is,/Shapes its own pain, this image fierce and fair . . ." He could, actually, be writing about Florence--we are informed, in the notes, that the poem was written in exile, and was probably the last one he completed before he rolled his sleeves up to start on the Commedia--but it also works if you assume he is writing about a woman he can't help but love, but who doesn't care about him (the situation has been known to arise, after all).

from The Guardian: Dante's surprising rhymes

I recall a poem of his [Michael Donaghy's] called 'Riddle'--a poem I'd already committed to memory, and was reciting in my head again one day, just for the noise of it. When the answer suddenly hit me, my heart was thumping in my throat. "I am the book you'll never read--but carry forever--one blunt page garlanded--by daughter or lover--You already know two-thirds by heart--and I'm passing weighty for a work so short." I won't spoil it for you, but I'll tell you this much: when you've got the answer, you'll know it, and something in the world won't look quite the same again.

from Scotland on Sunday: Collected Poems: The Shape of the Dance by Michael Donaghy

[Gordon Campbell and Thomas N. Corns] are extraordinarily scrupulous. On the Italian journey that was so important to [John] Milton in his late twenties they record: "It was long thought that Milton visited the Svogliati in the palace of Jacopo Gaddi in Piazza Madonna, but the census of 1632 places Iacopo Gaddi e fratelli a few yards away in the family's new palazzo in Via del Giglio, in the building that is now the Hotel Astoria". Such attention to detail comes only from love of one's subject. The reader is left in little doubt that on their next trip to Florence Professors Campbell and Corns will book into the Astoria as an act of homage.

from The Times Literary Supplement: The power of Milton

One could easily rearrange lines 6-8, adding just one more little preposition to form a conventionally reasonable sentence or clause that would function as an expanded parallelism with the two constructions that make up line 5--"and in a silver and golden portrait by Pinturicchio we permanently taste the dark grapes and the seed pearls glisten"--but how much would be lost thereby: the energy of movement that constructs "an instant of vision" out of many such instants. And notice what [Barbara] Guest gains by playing this coiled syntax off against her line breaks: telling enjambments like "taste the dark/grapes" and "coupling mind/and heart"--reminding us that when mind and heart are joined, they join dissimilar things in poetic vision.

from The Nation: Ceaselessly Opportuning: On Barbara Guest

It was late afternoon, and [Stephen] Spender was sitting away from any lamp. "Can you remind me please of the poem's last lines?" he asked me. So I read aloud the half-tragic, half-affirmative answer to the poem's initial question: "For the world is the world/And not the slain/Nor the slayer, forgive,/Nor do wild shores/Of passionate histories/Close on endless love;/Though hidden under seas/Of chafing despair,/Love's need does not cease."

"That is rather good, isn't it?" he said, the only time in two decades I ever heard him express anything like satisfaction with what he had written.

from The Independent: Angel of the Left: Paul Binding recalls his friendship with Stephen Spender

Why read poetry? Because of its exquisite (often witty) distillation of feelings and experience, its high-wire acts, incantatory power and chiseled truths. Because of its embrace of paradox, ambiguity and awe.

All this and more are found in [Michelle] Boisseau's arresting and liberating book, the work of a clarifying poet of the tectonic and the ephemeral, of shame and catharsis, sass and joy.

Sandcastle Guarded by a Cicada Shell

The rowboat is slapped by the harried lake.

from Kansas City Star: Michelle Boisseau's A Sunday in God-Years

Then he [Christopher Reid] recurs to the final few days, telling it as straight as he can, refusing, for instance, to invest the disease that kills her with anything like human moral agency:

Hobgoblin, nor foul fiend;
nor even the jobsworth slob
with a slow, sly scheme to rob
my darling of her mind
that I imagined;
just a tumour.

from The Guardian: One step ahead

[Christian] Bök describes how the poem will be encoded:

The poem can be most easily encoded by assigning a short, unique sequence of nucleotides to each letter of the alphabet, as Wong has done. But I want my poem to cause the organism to make a protein in response--a protein that also encodes a poem. I am striving to engineer a life form that becomes a durable archive for storing a poem, and a machine for writing a poem--a poem that can survive forever.

from Techonolgy Review: TR Editors' blog: Poetry Written in DNA

Great Regulars

I felt extremely unlikely. I didn't think it would ever happen. Usually the laureates are chosen from among the academic classes. I'm academic in the sense that I teach and have taught remedial writing skills for 33 years. But that isn't usually the group from whom the laureate is selected.

from Jeffrey Brown: PBS: Newshour: More Than a Weekly Poem: A Conversation and Reading With Poet Laureate Kay Ryan

And just when the speaker begins to achieve genuine poetic value in the two strongest lines in the work, "Love beyond marital, filial, national,/love that casts a widening pool of light," she destroys the achievement with discord in the line, "love with no need to pre-empt grievance." Not pre-empting grievance allows grievance to worsen. The "widening pool of light" dries up in political posturing.

from Linda Sue Grimes: Alexander's Praise Song for the Day

He desires the green grass and the sounds of rivers moving naturally through the landscape.

The speaker issues forth the Romantic sensibility of yearning for "Nature's observatory," from which "the dell,/Its flowery slopes, its river's crystal swell." He craves to reside among the flowers and clear river on a hillside, instead of living in a shabby city apartment.

from Linda Sue Grimes: Keats' O Solitude! if I must with thee dwell

The speaker proclaims his idea that it is better to be a bad person than to be merely thought to be bad by others who do not really know. If gossiping busybodies contend that the target of their gossip is other then he actually is, the latter might feel it incumbent upon himself to change his behavior to suit the gossipers.

from Linda Sue Grimes: Shakespeare Sonnet 121

This statement reminds readers that the mind is a private place in which one can retreat for reflection and also where one can create original ideas for entertainment, education, or enlightenment. This unique quality of the mind is available to every living individual; every human being is born equipped with this remarkable vehicle.

The speaker then reveals that he especially prefers the "streets untrod by crooked thoughts," which are "vile-born" and "unkind."

from Linda Sue Grimes: Yogananda's The Human Mind

Having occupied Tibet, the Chinese Communist government carried out a series of repressive and violent campaigns that have included "democratic" reform, class struggle, communes, the Cultural Revolution, the imposition of martial law, and more recently the patriotic re-education and the strike hard campaigns. These thrust Tibetans into such depths of suffering and hardship that they literally experienced hell on earth. The immediate result of these campaigns was the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Tibetans. The lineage of the Buddha Dharma was severed. Thousands of religious and cultural centres such as monasteries, nunneries and temples were razed to the ground. Historical buildings and monuments were demolished. Natural resources have been indiscriminately exploited. Today, Tibet's fragile environment has been polluted, massive deforestation has been carried out and wildlife, such as wild yaks and Tibetan antelopes, are being driven to extinction.

These 50 years have brought untold suffering and destruction to the land and people of Tibet.

from Tenzin Gyatso: The Office of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama: March 10th Statement of H.H. the Dalai Lama

With its change to a Web-only feature, Poet's Choice is evolving. We'll be asking a different poet each week to share with us a poem he or she has written. Mary Karr, who has been our eloquent columnist since March 2008, starts us off on this new format.--The Editors

The heartbroken so often write poetry, but there's damn little in poetic history about heartbreak's recovery. For me it's a spiritual process in which I reconnect with the human family, and that's done through prayer. I also adore reading small, intensely morbid stories by Isaac Babel. "Konkin" opens with a group of Red Cavalry soldiers chopping up Poles, then "hugging each other with hatchets." Such were my starting points when I wrote this poem.

Recuperation from the Sunk Love Through the Aegis of Christ and Isaac Babel

from Mary Karr: The Washington Post: Poet's Choice

by Jane Hirshfield

In every instant, two gates.

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: Bees by Jane Hirshfield

by Robert Hass

Because yesterday morning from the steamy window

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: Happiness by Robert Hass

If She Could Have Her Love For You Only One Day A Year
by Tina Kelley

If life bloomed once a year, if we sat in dim rooms the rest of the days, resting,

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: If She Could Have Her Love For You Only One Day A Year by Tina Kelley

In the Coffee Shop
by Carl Dennis

The big smile the waitress gives you

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: In the Coffee Shop by Carl Dennis

Making the Best of the Holidays
by James Tate

Justine called on Christmas day to say she

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: Making the Best of the Holidays by James Tate

The Pleasures of Hating
by Laure-Anne Bosselaar

I hate Mozart. Hate him with that healthy

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: The Pleasures of Hating by Laure-Anne Bosselaar

by David Shumate

I am seduced by trains. When one moans in the night like some

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: Trains by David Shumate

[Seamus] Heaney is in obvious ways unlike [Thomas] Mann's Apollonian aesthete, but he too has managed to win the love of the many and the esteem of the few, in a way that no American poet since Frost has managed. As Heaney observes in this important book-length interview, designed to serve in lieu of a memoir, "In the United States, there's a great crop of ripe, waving poetry--but there's no monster hogweed sticking up out of it."

from Adam Kirsch: Powells: Review-A-Day: In The Word-Hoard

Ah, yes, the mid-life crisis. And there's a lot of mid-life in which it can happen. Jerry Lee Lewis sang of it so well in "He's thirty-nine and holding, holding everything he can." And here's a fine poem by Matthew Vetter, portraying just such a man.

Wild Flowers

from Ted Kooser: American Life in Poetry: Column 206

"Married to a Cowboy" refers to the cruder aspects of a cowboy life--fondness for chewing tobacco and lack of personal hygiene. Like most cowboy poems, it is a long narrative, so this is an excerpt. [Jack] DeWerff's narrator disarms his listener with self-deprecating humor--he anticipates criticisms and admits to them. This is a typical Kansas ploy to smooth relationships, and here a husband attempts to placate a wife. He also asserts the golden qualities of the cowboy character--honesty and loyalty.

Married to a Cowboy

from Denise Low: Lawrence Journal-World: Ad Astra Poetry Project: Cowboy poet feels at home on the range

When times are hard and the outlook horrific, feast upon the rich imagery of positive poetry.

Read the epics and the classics of world literature that show humanity's tremendous resilience and our ability to survive the worst possible conditions of life. If nothing else, this should help put our social problems into perspective. Romantic English poet John Keats (1795-1821) expressed this same idea in his sonnet, "When I Have Fears That I May Cease to Be":

from Anthony Maulucci: Norwich Bulletin: On Poetry: Poetry can help heal us during hard economic times

The poem about seasickness (and, of course, love), A Channel Passage, ends with the awkwardly comical, even comically awkward, couplet: "And still the sick ship rolls. It's hard, I tell ye,/To choose 'twixt love and nausea, heart and belly." [Rupert] Brooke's risky, and badly handled, honesty to experience is a mature virtue in the making. It's a quality worlds away from sentimentality and jingoism, and would have made him into a different and far more considerable writer than the one we remember.


from Carol Rumens: The Guardian: Books blog: Poem of the week

From the White House to our house, from Hollywood to the halls of Congress, suddenly everyone is "tweeting" on Twitter--and wants you to know it.

The free social-networking Web site is the new bling of the communication age. Celebs, pols, and millions more--even those who shun the Web--are scrambling to master it. This is Twitter's moment as symbol of status, popularity, and power. And no one wants to be left out.

from John Timpane: Philadelpia Inquirer: All a-Twitter: The Tweet smell of success

Lysistrata, immortalized by Aristophanes, mobilized women on both sides of the Athenian-Spartan War for a sexual strike in order to force men to end hostilities and avert mutual annihilation. In this, Lysistrata and her co-strikers were forerunners of the American humanistic psychologist Abraham Maslow who proposed a hierarchy of needs: water, food, shelter, and sexual relations being the foundation.

from René Wadlow: Newropeans Magazine: March 8: International Day of Women--Woman as Peacemakers

I can't say that I take all this dire grousing about the decline in reading all that seriously. Doesn't anyone remember that, when they were in high school--and I was in high school half a century ago--the kids who read a lot were … in a minority? This idea that, not so many years ago, everybody, including kids, were reading up a storm is fantasy, as is the idea that young people nowadays don't read as much as young people used to.

from Frank Wilson: Conversations in the Book Trade: Frank Wilson--editor, critic (The Philadelphia Inquirer [retired])

Rules are perfectly serviceable as guideposts, but can easily keep one from exploring the hinterlands of life and the imagination. It is precisely because the master craftsman knows the rules so well that he knows when to forego them. The saint is too absorbed in the pursuit of love to worry much about sin. In art, a preoccupation with rules leads to mannerism. Puritanism is the mannerism of religion.

from Frank Wilson: When Falls the Coliseum: Look at the moon, not at the finger

by David Yezzi

False Fire

The players withdraw in rain,

from The Atlantic Monthly: Poetry: False Fire

by Wyatt Prunty


When I was twelve years old I climbed into

from The Atlantic Monthly: Poetry: Memory

Ginger, A Novelized Memoir in Progress--
Comments and Other Confusing Advice From the Editor

by Guillermo Castro

Preliminary Notes


As the story begins in your head it needs to happen outside your head too.

from The Brooklyn Rail: Ginger, A Novelized Memoir in Progress

Life Sentences

by Elizabeth Fodaski

The short weekend began with longing

from The Brooklyn Rail: Life Sentences

By Josie Mixon

When I am feeble old and gray

from Express-News: Poetry: 'Fade Away'

Reading in Bed by Diana Hendry

from The Guardian: The Saturday poem: Reading in Bed by Diana Hendry

In the first of a series of collaborations between poets and photographers, Sarah Maguire and Martin Argles present an illustrated performance of her poem, 'My Father's Piano'

from The Guardian: Audio slideshow: 'Sounding-board of thought and feeling'

By Iris Appelquist

whatever long lost and forgotten

from The Kansas City Star: Between the Lines: 'November Thirty'

by David Floyd

At school today

from Morning Star: Well Versed: War in the Playground


by Aleš Šteger

from The New Yorker: Poetry: Grater

Michael McGriff was born and raised in Coos Bay. He is the author of "Choke" (Traprock Books, 2006) and "Dismantling the Hills" (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2008), in which "Mercy, Tear It Down" appears.

from The Oregonian: Poetry: Mercy, Tear It Down

[by Isabel E. Grasso]

A Flight Plan for the Birds

from Portsmouth Herald News: Poem: A Flight Plan for the Birds

Sheenagh Pugh's collection Long-Haul Travellers is full of stories of literal journeys and exploration, as well as journeys of the imagination.

The Door to the Sea

from The Scotsman: Poem of the Week: The Door to the Sea

"Bad Infinity"
By T.R. Hummer

from Slate: "Bad Infinity" --By T.R. Hummer

Reading a Swedish Poet

by Lou Lipsitz

This man, Werner Aspenstrom, was born

from The Sun Magazine: Poetry: Reading a Swedish Poet

Poetic Obituaries

[William W. "Bill" Akers] was an avid reader and student of history and politics and had a broad range of cultural interests, ranging from the TV show "Hee Haw" to classical music and grand opera, to baseball.

During his retirement years he served as a volunteer driver for the Santa Cruz County Volunteer Centers and a volunteer aide at the Aptos library. He pursued hobbies of drawing with pastels and writing poetry, which, he said, "escaped being doggerel by the thinnest of margins."

from Santa Cruz Sentinel: Longtime local newspaperman William Akers dies at 88

Singer-composer Zubir Ali died at Damansara Specialist Hospital at 10.30am Friday from complications after a heart surgery. He was 60.

The former member of folk band Harmoni whose hits included Penantian and Balada Seorang Gadis Kecil underwent heart bypass a week ago.

from The Star: Singer-composer Zubir Ali dies

[Gloria Almack] also wrote a poem for a book for the Millersburg High School band about Otto Elliot's years as band director. She was a member of the Red Hat Society and was a foster grandparent at Killbuck Elementary School.

She was a member of Killbuck Church of Christ, where she sang in the choir.

from The Budget: Gloria Almack

After retirement [W.] Ray [Dunn] remained active through volunteer work, preparing tax returns for senior citizens and helping local residents apply for home owner's and renter's assistance. A prolific poet and artist, it was Ray's great joy to facilitate a writer's group through the Salvation Army where he encouraged many to record the stories of their lives.

from Red Bluff Daily News: W. Ray Dunn

Equally at home writing for the stage, film or television, [Horton] Foote quietly excelled in a career that lasted nearly 70 years. His first big TV script, The Trip to Bountiful, had an ongoing life as a play and a movie. Two of his most notable screenplays were To Kill a Mockingbird and Tender Mercies. He won Academy Awards for both.

He later won the 1995 Pulitzer Prize for drama for "The Young Man from Atlanta," and he continued to work right up to the end.

from WFAA-TV: Texas playwright, screenwriter Horton Foote dies

[Stephanie Dawn Hamilton] was employed at area restaurants and was a blessing to all who knew her. Her true talent was singing and writing poetry.

from Zanesville Times Recorder: Stephanie Dawn Hamilton

[Yusuf] Hayalo?lu, whose works were marked by political undertones as well as lyrical depictions of love, was the writer of hundreds of poems which were turned into well-known protest songs, most notably those by Kaya. Among his best-known lyrics are "Hani Benim Gençli?im" (Where's My Youth?), "Ba??m Belada" (I'm in Trouble), "Ad? Bahtiyar" (His Name Was Bahtiyar), "Ba?kald?r?yorum" (Rising Up), "Ayr?l???n Hediyesi" (The Gift of Separation) and "Yüre?im Kan?yor" (My Heart's Bleeding), among others.

from Today's Zaman: Poet Yusuf Hayalo?lu dies at age 56

The American University of Beirut (AUB), the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and the Department of Arabic Language and Literature announced Tuesday the passing of Mohammad Yusuf Najm, Professor Emeritus of Arabic at AUB. "Known for his grace, elegance and sharp sense of humor, Najm was a professor for over 50 years, teaching Arabic literature to students at AUB for over 25 years, as well as to students at Harvard University in 1972 and at Kuwait University in 1969," the university statement said.

from The Daily Star: Veteran professor Mohammad Yusuf Najm passes away

[Salvador Becquer] Puig, who was born on Jan. 9, 1939, in the capital, was a successful writer whose work was recognized with the Bartolome Hidalgo Prize for "Si tuviera que apostar" and the Juan Jose Morosoli Prize for his body of work.

Among his works were "La luz entre nosotros" (1963), "Apalabrar" (1980), "En un lugar o en otro" (2003) and "Escritorio" (2006).

from Latin American Herald Tribune: Uruguayan Poet and Journalist Salvador Becquer Puig Passes Away

[Yadvendra Sharma] had authored over 100 books, including 60 novels, 30 short stories, poems, and short plays.

His literary works fetched him Rajasthan Sahitya Academy's top literary "Meera award", Kendriya Sahitya Academy award, Rajasthani Bhasha Sahitya Academy award, Rajasthan Patrika's literary award, Sahitya Mahopadhya, Vidhya Vachaspati, Sahitya Shree, Rahul Sankratyan, and Jhabarmal Sharma awards.

from Business Standard: Noted Hindi writer Yadvendra Sharma passes away

Most of her [Loyce "Hump" Sheppard's] years with the system were spent at Towers High School and the last were at Redan High School, which she left in 1998, said her son, Donnie Sheppard of Hall County.

She was a poet who loved flowers, garage sales, country music and family trips to Florida.

And she loved her work, her son said, leaving Redan High School only after hip pain prevented her from working any longer.

from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: Loyce Sheppard, 94, loved cafeteria work

It is easy to pass judgment on the guards who were on duty when [Ashley] Smith died or to blame Smith herself. As Canadians, we need to get involved, become informed, and become part of the solution rather than silent bystanders. Crime affects us all.

We need to understand and participate in our system of justice in our great nation to ensure it reflects our values and effectively addresses our collective need for safety. Consider Smith's poem when you think of how things could have been done differently.

My Life

from The Record: A preventable death

A funeral was held Tuesday for Jim Thomas, a longtime professor at Truman State University. He had died Friday in his Hermann home after a long illness.

Missouri Poet Laureate had featured Mr. Thomas just about a month ago in his column for the Post-Dispatch. I am re-posting it here. The poem is a lively, clever piece that quickly conveys the different tone of the small-town schools of many decades ago:

from The Post-Dispatch: Funeral held for poet, retired teacher Jim Thomas

"Trova invented this great symbol of human fallibility through processing and reprocessing the image," [Matt] Strauss said.

In later years, Mr. [Ernest] Trova created abstract constructivist sculptures which failed to get much attention outside the St. Louis area.

Mr. Trova was born in St. Louis in 1927, and he never lived anywhere else. As an artist he was self-taught, and he was interested in music and poetry as well as in visual art.

from St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Ernest Trova Dies

In 1952, as he was in Paris, Keng Vannsak had strongly criticised Norodom Sihanouk who had just granted himself extraordinary powers and had launched a "Royal Crusade" as a response to troubles caused by Son Ngoc Than and his followers. The exiled teacher wrote a series of poems and published them in 1954 under the title "Coeur Vierge" (Virgin Heart), in which he "used Buddhist metaphors to launch encrypted attacks against the monarchy", Philip Short observes, adding that the intellectual became, from then on, one of Norodom Sihanouk's "bêtes noires". Under his regime, Keng Vannsak was sent twice to prison.

from Ka-set: Death of Keng Vannsak: an intellectual who left a deep imprint on Cambodians

Joyce [G. White] also wrote many poems and stories about her family and her church family and enjoyed going out to dinner with her husband every week.

from The Daily Times: Joyce G. White


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