Poetry as News Story

Just the facts, Jack. That's what detectives deal in when there's a mystery, and that's what newspapers deal in when there's not. Reporters are more about the 5 Ws and the H: who, what, why, when, where, and how. Or as many of the above as you can find, all presented in the classical inverted-pyramid …

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“Wagging My Feet Above the Abyss”

Sometimes the image is everything, especially when it is an unexpected image, strange to the reader yet familiar---an oddly endearing combination. A good example of poet conjuring a bit of what used to be called "magical realism" is Jim Harrison in his poem, "Bridge." In it he imagines a bridge to nowhere that extends unfinished …

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Scoring an MFA in 10,000 Hours

And again. From the beginning, maestro! Remember the Maine! And, better still, remember Malcolm Gladwell's "10,000-hour rule," which states that 10,000 hours of deliberate practice in anything will lift you to professional status. Of course, that claim has since been debunked, but pretty-sounding studies (and the power of repetition) give anything legs, even since-disproven rules, …

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Opposition in the Poetry Classroom

Los Angeles poet Brendan Constantine has an assignment for his students called "The Opposites Game." He gives them a famous line of poetry and asks that they create a "new" poem by changing each word to its opposite. As a teaching exercise, you can see how this could prove an interesting prompt for student creativity. …

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Poetry in Strange Places (e.g. a Farm or Abattoir)

Last week, via her poetry column in the New York Times' Magazine, Rita Dove introduced me to the poet Jenny George, who published The Dream of Reason (Copper Canyon Press) just last year. Being the sort to pass along good news when I read it, I shared George's poem "One-Way Gate" on these pages---a poignant piece …

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Beasts Made Sophisticated by Their Simplicity

I've been poking around Robert Bly's bodaciously-big, newly-released Collected Poems, and enjoying his versatility. For instance, poems from his 1975 collection Morning Glory are descriptive gems that would have served as comfort food to Henry David Thoreau out in his cabin by the lake. Of course, in our politically-fraught times, nature poems like these are frowned upon …

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