Where Nocturnes & Aubades Meet

Notice how, as readers, we naturally take the unfamiliar and make it familiar? It's hardwired, and one of the many reasons readers like to read. Take nocturnes. I associate them with classical music, but according to Edward Hirsch's A Poet's Glossary, "The nocturne became a European musical type in the nineteenth century, a pensive, moody …

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The Hazards in Speed Back or Feedback for Dollars

Submitting your work for publication? You and a few million others, it seems, and with increased submissions comes increased response times comes new ways to separate a writer from his or her money. Let's start with the ironies of time. We all know how tempus has a habit of fugiting, especially when it comes to …

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“The Stars Are Its Eternal Nuns”

Reading the new translation of Fernando Pessoa's poetry, The Complete Works of Alberto Caeiro -- especially the section called The Keeper of Sheep -- has brought reading the Tao Te Ching (Lao Tzu) to mind. In poem after poem, the "shepherd poet," a creation of Pessoa's imagination, insists that there is no philosophy in his …

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The Fraught Question of a Poem’s “Meaning”

What does this poem mean? Now there's a question. The kind of question with dangers on each side of it. You know, like the proverbial rock and a hard place. Or Devil and the deep, blue sea. Or, for you classical gases, Scylla and Charybdis. It's a question oft heard in schools. Does a poem …

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“Lit Windows Painting Yellow Rothkos on the Water”

Late to the party (per usual), I found Maggie Smith's poetry collection, Good Bones. Reading it, I found themes that resonated with me, especially the fascination with time and how it manifests in the form of poems touching on past, present, and future. Other topics she dwells on include childhood, motherhood, marriage, nature, and love. …

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Poetry as Commentary (or Irreverence Imitates Life)

Sure, over 300 people subscribe to this blog, but who knows what percentage actually read each post? Even more obscure? The percentage that bother reading or writing comments. If you are part of the rare, comment-reading breed here on "Updates on a Free-Verse Life," you've no doubt come across that boisterous peanut gallery known as …

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Of Masks, Poetry Contests, and the Quarantine Fifteen

It seems I've been missing dates with this blog lately. You'd expect that in the busy season of summer, but not in a Covid Summer where one is supposed to be holed up in the heat (or ac) more than usual. Thing is, summer this year is conflicted in its way. On the one hand, …

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