Put That Monkey Mind to Good Use!

Sometimes you set a purpose and then the world repurposes it. This is known as the Robert Burns effect: "The best laid schemes o' mice an' men / Gang aft a-gley.” Translation: Shift happens. Jon Loomis's poem "At the Lake House" is a great example of shift happening. Note how stanza one starts innocently enough …

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Mirror as Poem as Mirror

In today's New York Times Magazine, Rita Dove selects a Jericho Brown poem about Jericho Brown called, quite simply yet not simply at all, "Dark." I say that because "dark" is one of those adjectives that can denote (and connote) many meanings, as certainly it does here. And though we've been discussing the poetry of …

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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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Forgive Me, Father, for I Am a Father

Playing father to a teenager is work---unpaid work that deserves holiday overtime. Yes, fathers vaguely recall being teenagers themselves, but their own sons are cryptic echoes at best, ciphers not easily solved, and memory is of little use because each child is so different from that little guy called by way of reference from our …

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“Lines Feeding on a Crust of Lamplight”

Yesterday morning, I wrote a "little poem." You won't find that in a glossary of poetry terms, of course, because "little" is fraught with multiple meanings. Think of a little apartment, for instance. For one prospective renter, it's "cramped," and for the next, it's "cozy." In the poetry world, the Kingdom of Little Poetry can …

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