Poems About Sons & Daughters

Having kids (or, as the cynical might say, "debt drivers"). It isn't easy, especially for mothers who truly have to have the kids. Physically. Painfully. Emotionally. But after that, I mean. Through the good and the bad, the beautiful and the ugly, the serene and the scary. In the end, a parent hopes her child …

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In Our Time: The Poetry of Resistance

In the past week, I've been reading a telling triptych of materials. As readers of this page know, I have Terrance Hayes' book, American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin. But I'm also slowly wending my way through Jericho Brown's The Tradition. To complete the trio, there's the bad habit I have of reading …

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“The Mix of Flag Blood & Surprise Blurring the Eyes”

All politics is local, they say. And all poetry, too, seen in a certain slant of light. Sometimes it's bright and obvious. Other times, you have to work in the dark a bit to see it. As I continue to slowly read (and reread) Terrance Hayes' American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin, I …

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The Ever-Evolving Sonnet

Sonnets. You remember them from school, right? In this corner we have the Petrarchan (or Italian) sonnet, and in that corner we have the Shakespearean (or English) sonnet. Sonnets loved rules: Fourteen lines. Ten beats per line. A rhyme scheme. But that was your great-great-etc. grandfather's sonnet. The new sonnet has only one rule (and …

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How Voice Escorts Us into the “Interior of the World”

It seems fitting that Tony Hoagland's farewell book to the world would tackle the concept of voice. If any poet knew of what he spoke, Hoagland was the man. Whether you read his poems or his sage essays about poems or writing poetry, you "heard" Hoagland and felt as if you were lucky to have …

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“The Charm of Voice Is More Important Than Economy.”

In his new, posthumous book, The Art of Voice, the gist of Tony Hoagland's message can be found at the opening of Chapter 3, "The Sound of Intimacy: The Poem's Connection with Its Audience." If you've been browbeaten by writing teachers and mentors who insist on economy at all costs, you might by surprised by …

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Tony Hoagland Gives His Blessing

Yesterday I picked up Tony Hoagland's posthumous book and, I assume, the last, The Art of Voice: Poetic Principles and Practice. The purpose of this 168-pager is to promote ways writers can add "voice" to their poetry, and it doesn't hurt that the essays enclosed have plenty of voice themselves. "Voice" is one of those literary …

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Reading the New York Times’ “By the Book” Feature

One Sunday ritual I enjoy is reading The Book Review in the New York Times, where I can reliably find a feature called "By the Book." In this column, famous people (mostly authors, but sometimes actors, singers, artists, etc.) answer pre-submitted questions about their reading habits, prejudices, and insights. For me, "By the Book" is …

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