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
I visited the local Barnes and his friend, Noble, this past weekend for the express purpose of visiting the periodicals section to buy copies of the July issue of Gray's Sporting Journal, which includes my poem, "Hemingway Fishing." It didn't go down that way. Not quite. "While I'm here in the shady Tree of Knowledge," … Continue reading Temptation = a Summer Book Before the Summer
Death is the ultimate form of going incognito and last week Denis Johnson, the author of The Incognito Lounge, died and left his legacy. Johnson was a writer equally at home in poetry, short stories, novels, and plays. A down-and-outer who struggled with alcohol and drug abuse issues in his lifetime, he started with poetry … Continue reading Denis Johnson Incognito
Sometimes you meet poems in the strangest ways. I still remember how I met C. P. Cavafy's poem, "Ithaka." It was in reading about Jaqueline Kennedy-Onasiss's funeral. The poem was read at the service by her longtime companion, Maurice Tempelsman. Some don't know that Mrs. Kennedy was a great champion of poetry and even wrote … Continue reading Funeral for a Poem
Years ago, when I decided to dip a toe in the poetry waters, I purchased a book that has since become a favorite due to its practicality: Ted Kooser's The Poetry Home Repair Manual. I occasionally go back and flip through it anew, amazed how the old appears new again and the read appears unread again … Continue reading Both God & the Devil Are in the Details
The old axiom has it that writers can cheat death if their words live on. I'm not terribly impressed with the formula because my words don't experience the five senses as well as I do. If they live on, a lot of good that does me, in other words. And yes, you might say words … Continue reading Cheating Death (Sort Of…)