The Poetry of Trains

Maybe it's all those movies we watched as kids. Lovers parting or greeting at train stations. Murders on the Orient Express. Windows and windows of blurry landscape, all to the comforting rumble of the tracks and the horn. It came back to me while reading Faith Shearin's poem, "The Sound of a Train." It seems …

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Poems Inspired by Football

Did you know that Super Bowl Monday---the day following the N.F.L.'s championship game---is the most called-in sick day in the United States? Talk about the tail (football) wagging the dog (country)! As for those going to work, they will no doubt burn some water-cooler time discussing the merits of Super Bowl commercials, even to the point …

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A Brief New Year’s Message (2019 Vintage)

Just like that, another year gone. Here's weird: I just reread last year's New Year's post and nothing, I mean nothing, seems dated, so you can ignore the "Best by Such and Such Date" imprint on it (and don't you just love ignoring stuff?). What does the heartiness of a year-old post proves? Once more, in the …

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Readers’ Choices (Which Are Seldom Writers’ Choices)

We've been talking a lot lately about how difficult it is to discern good from bad when it comes to that slippery seal known as poetry. You need no better proof than to listen to readers of your own books, who will often point out favorite poems that wouldn't even make your Top Ten. You …

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Mining the Synergy of Opposites

Contrast. Nothing tells a story quite like it. Consider the juxtaposition of junk car parked next to new Porsche, of grandmother in her wheelchair posing with her 5-year-old granddaughter for pictures, of homeless man sleeping under cardboard against the smooth base of a financial-district skyscraper. In poetry, contrast can work its magic, too. Past and …

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It’s Giving Tuesday. You Know What THAT Means!

Yes, it means you are supposed to be giving, and that explains why you are getting all of these e-mails from journals and magazines that once (or three times) rejected your poetry but now promise NOT to reject your money. I could get jaded and do a narrative eye roll here, but I fully understand …

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Wanna Buy an Overpriced Book?

Book prices are a funny thing, except to your wallet. Alcoholics may suffer from cirrhosis of the liver; bibliophiles' wallets and pocketbooks may suffer from cirrhosis of book purchases. Where do pricing decisions come from? My first book, 98 pages of poetry, goes for $15.95 retail, which is publish-speak for $16, thank you (consider gas …

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Teaching Poetry: A Better Way

As a poet, I'm not shy about sharing my own poems for teaching purposes in the classroom, and if you teach, you shouldn't be, either. Yes, my work is published, but that doesn't matter. I shared my poems before I was published, and you can, too. Students like seeing their teacher's own work, and it's …

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Random Thoughts: Memorial Day Weekend Edition

Memorial Day Weekend. It gets quiet around here. People leave for the Cape. First, for the stop-and-go traffic heading to the Cape. Eventually for the stop-and-go traffic returning from the Cape. All this for sand in your bathing suit and a sunburn. Nota bene: You can get sunburned on your back patio. No gas, no …

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Choosing Poems for a Poetry Reading

When you first begin the task of choosing poems for a poetry reading, it's like walking into a grocery store's cereal aisle where the choices are so vast they overwhelm the shopper. In the case of poetry, do you choose funny poems or contemplative poems, fancy poems or simple poems, poems with sound devices or …

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