Marie Howe Teaches Us How

You meet new old poets in the strangest ways. A "new old" poet is not something found in the oxymoron section of Dewey's Decimals, but rather an established poet who is new to you (a great name for a consignment store). My daughter, who likes to gift me poetry, gave me a copy of the …

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Listening Two Ways at Poetry Readings

This blog isn't subtitled "Updates on a Free-Verse Life" for nothing. It would be a lie to call it "Updates on a Rhyming-Couplet Life." I'm about as devoid of rhyming as a guy can get. Confession: When I listen to a poem, I often don't even notice the rhyme scheme. Instead, I notice "pleasant sounds." …

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Why Is This Writer So Embarrassed?

Embarrassment. Like death and taxes, it's universal, only Ben Franklin overlooked it. Embarrassment is the title and subject of Thomas Newkirk's latest book, and although the target audience is teachers of students whose learning is compromised due to the big "E," it might as well be dedicated to all of us, especially writers and poets …

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“All Writers Are Amateurs…”

Readers love to read books about books, of course. And writers? They love to read about writers. Given the chance to interview an established author, developing and wannabe writers would most likely ask about routine and habit, as if it were some elixir they could purchase in aisle 7 of the local pharmacy, drink, and--voilà!--be …

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A Closer Look at Rilke’s First Letter to a Young Poet

This week marks the 115th anniversary of Rainer Maria Rilke's first letter to Franz Xaver Kappus. Franz sounds like a lot of young poets. "Dear Established Poet," he writes. "Would you please read my poems and tell me if I'm horrible at this?" If you read Letters to a Young Poet today (there are ten …

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Of Wu Wei, Idylls, and Other Escapes

Idyll. It's one of my favorite words, bringing to mind, as it does, a perfect and simple world, pre-industrialization, pre-technology. Heading out to the country always sounds like good advice, like the perfect escape, like Huck Finn lighting out for the territories at the end of his book. Then there's its homophone, idle. Yes. When …

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