The Mysterious Equations of Narrative Poetry, Where “Less Is More”

Story. Cavemen loved them, apparently, as do the so-called civilized types we call ourselves today. Tell me a good story, and I'm your captive till the happily ever after. Words to live by. Especially if your name is Sheherazade and your pretty life depends on it. The last entry from my reading of Gregory Orr's …

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“The Art of Faith, The Faith of Art”

Voice. It's that magical je ne sais quoi that draws us like magnets. To people, yes. But to writing, too: people heard through the medium of paper and ink. From the earliest pages of Christian Wiman's new book He Held Radical Light, I found myself attracted to the voice. To me, it seemed the voice …

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One Poetry Editor’s Epiphany

Christian Wiman, former editor of Poetry magazine and a poet himself, has been there and back. Not just the highs and lows that come with the life of a poet who gets hosannas one second (via acceptances) and brickbats the next (via rejections), but the more soul-searching variety---the one that comes with cancer, bone marrow …

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What’s in a Name? More Than You’d Think.

Lead-off batters. In baseball, they're the table setters. The speed. The possibility and the hope facing a first pitch. In a poetry collection, the first poem is no small matter, either. St. Billy of Collins says it is damn near everything when it comes to the Department of Importance (a branch of the Department of …

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Why Do Some Poems Inspire You To Write While Others Don’t?

After Roman Coliseum-like spectacles like yesterday's special Senate hearing on the pending Supreme Court nomination, one can't help but curl up in a ball of despair or read poetry. I chose poetry. It took my mind off ugly things and reminded me of what can be beautiful in life. For succor, I chose my copy …

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