Reading Ulysses: Now I Know How Odysseus Felt

Wait. What page am I on in Ulysses? Only 186 with over 500 to go? You can never be too old for an Irish door-stopper, I realize, but what about the eyes? Here I have this Oxford paperback of the 1922 version, and my eyes are killing me. What is the font, anyway? Four? I'll …

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Poets? They Know Godot!

Though few of us have seen it, Samuel Beckett's play Waiting for Godot is familiar to us all. It's a play about nothing. Two characters, Vladimir and Estragon, wait for someone named Godot (note the surprise inside, the word "God"), only instead of someone they get no one. And a lot of waiting. Thus talking. …

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My Kingdom for an Audience!

In this age and day, it is good to read a poem that starts with the line "How kind people are!" Not just read it, but with-an-exclamation-point read it, as if the idea needs to shout in these times where boorishness, shamelessness, and lies are king. Connie Wanek's poem, "Audience," brings to mind poetry readings, …

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Selling Poetry Books: What Works

Selling poetry books, they say, is like selling space heaters in Hell. Or ice cream cones in Antarctica. Or the truth at the Orange House. Honestly, as the reports stream in from fellow published poets, I begin to wonder. That may be because I am not on email terms (alas!) with any heavy-hitter poets. I …

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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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Poetry Myth or Truth? You’d Be Surprised.

Myth or Truth? Buying a poetry collection in the Kindle version may save you money, but it's just not the same experience as reading the poems in book form. Truth: Based on wide-ranging experience (once), I found that trying to read poems on an electronic device was an antiseptic experience at best, one which took …

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“Navel-Gazing” and Other Writing Hazards: Interview with a Poetry Editor

Today, in our last entry before Christmas, we share the partial transcript of an interview conducted with the editor of a small poetry journal. This excerpt focuses on the controversial concept of "navel-gazing."  FVL stands for this website ("Free-Verse Life"), as in some writer looking suspiciously like me conducting an interview. PE stands for physical …

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