In their book, The Poet's Companion, Kim Addonizio and Dorianne Laux share a worksheet Jane Hirshfield created for a Napa Valley Writers' Conference she taught. Can you imagine? Being surrounded by both the poet Jane Hirshfield and hundreds of wineries? Sounds inspiring to me (and rated 90-plus by the Poetry Advocate), but I have yet to … Continue reading Jane Hirshfield’s Handout on Revision
Negative. It sounds so...negative, doesn't it? And yet, in the "up is down and down is up" world of poetry, negative can prove a high compliment. Ask John Keats, the wunderkind of poetry. In a December 1817 letter to his brothers, he wrote: ...and at once it struck me what quality went to form a … Continue reading The Upside of Negative
One theme touched on in Matthew Zapruder's Why Poetry is "associative movement," a term he rather dislikes as being too "clinical sounding," but uses anyway because its meaning is so vast that it's hard to label and shelf as something else. What can it mean? Lots of things, but for my purposes, I'll call it … Continue reading Joyfully Ambushed
In Chapter 4 of his thought-invoking book, Why Poetry, Matthew Zapruder quotes a Russian literary scholar, essayist, novelist, and memoirist no one's heard of: Viktor Shklovsky. Viktor's eureka moment? He claimed that the language of artistic texts is no different than the language of texts used to convey information. Asterisk. Make that BIG asterisk. In … Continue reading Make It Strange
The following is my Goodreads review of H. L. Six's Wild and Whirling Words: A Poetic Conversation. As it is instructive and a cautionary tale, I thought I would share it with the WordPress community as well: Like writing workshop on steroids, this, as 33 poets critique each other's work and the result isn't always … Continue reading In Which I Critique a Book of Critiques
What does it mean to be a man? In its way, as fascinating a topic as the age-old muse of many a poet: death. I was struck by this thought while reading Tony Hoagland's 1998 collection (for the first time!), Donkey Gospel. While in the book, wondering if the title had anything to do with … Continue reading Be a Man!
Sure, The New Yorker is eastern liberal elitist, but does that mean I can't read it any way I want? Pricey at $8.99 (is that the "liberal elitist" part or the "eastern" part?), the magazine came my way free thanks to my daughter who renewed with the option to gift someone a subscription (she wrote … Continue reading Reading ‘The New Yorker’ Backwards
If you're tired of empty phrases like "Build a Wall" and "Make America Great Again," you might consider Tony Hoagland's America for respite. At least you'd be a realist, and at most a decent judge of political poetry. Tony Hoagland's view of America is subtle, though. No in-your-face pronouncements. Just creative and philosophical riffs that … Continue reading Tony Hoagland’s America: Look Familiar?
Let's address the misnomer first and foremost. To exchange poems via post is charmingly retro to the extreme, but if you find a willing poet and want to give it a go, by all means! More likely, this post should be called "E-Mail Poetry" but, like most things technological, it lacks the charm, don't you … Continue reading Pen Pal Poetry
Typically, I'm not a fan of the "Best of..." series, but last week at the library I picked up a copy of The Best of the Best American Poetry edited by Robert Pinsky and released in 2013. Surprisingly, I enjoyed many poems by many familiar faces in this collection, and what I liked best was … Continue reading The Hands of the Dying