“Live the Questions Now!”

More quotes -- some hers, some others' -- noted in Mary Ruefle's book Madness, Rack, and Honey: "Robert Frost never wrote a nature poem. He said that. Meaning: there's more to me than trees and birds. Meaning: there's more to trees and birds and I know that, so that means there's more to me, too." …

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Dear Student, What If You Were the Teacher?

Dear Student. What if you were the teacher? What if you had to conduct a lesson on this or that challenging poem? That's the best advice I can give to students who make the mistake of Googling "[poetry title] analysis" the minute they are assigned a paper. They may as well be typing "[poetry title] …

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Top 10 Reviewed Poetry Books of 2019 Announced (And Other Tidbits)

Lit Hub surveyed the best reviewed books of 2019 in the poetry world (east of Eden, as they say), coming up with ten books all poetry fans should have read by now. Me? I'm batting .200 on this list---enough to earn me a ride on the bench if this were baseball. Still, there's always time …

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The Poet as “Perpetual Amateur”

In his book Real Sofistikashun, Tony Hoagland ends a chapter about Robert Pinsky, Robert Hass, and Louise Glück (the "Three Tenors," as he dubs them) with these words about poetry as a "profession": "'Profession' has always seemed like a misleading, even laughable word for poetry---not just because it suggests that the economy has a Poetry …

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How To Critique a Poem

Critiquing a poem isn't rocket science. For starters, don't use clichés, like "rocket science," but know what a cliché is, because spotting them will come in handy. Before we get started on how to critique a poem, though, let's start with how NOT to critique one. This assumes, of course, that the poet (or fellow …

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Clive James’ Recommended Poems

Last week we lost Clive James, writer and critic from Australia, which naturally led to sales of his books that will do him no good. I picked up his Poetry Notebook and, in the early pages, came across a blog-friendly list. You know blogs and lists. A marriage made in Purgatory. Still, James was of …

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“Boredom and Disruption Are Healthy…”

Why do so many avid readers not read poetry? Why is there such resistance to its inherent challenges? Rattle editor Tim Green, in his interview with the poet Kwame Dawes, opines that people who don't ordinarily read poetry are put off by its difficulty. In a lengthy response, some of which I'll quote here, Dawes …

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How Teachers Can Make Challenging Poems Fun

For reasons that border on unreasonable, elementary-aged students love poetry (usually rhyming) and middle- and high school-aged students detest it (especially when they are tested on it). Perhaps this is because of stodgy assigned works from textbooks and/or old warhorses that continually get trotted out as assigned readings. Perhaps it is because students are often …

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“All Genuine Poetry in My View Is Antipoetry.”

Like Tony Hoagland, Charles Simic is no one-trick pony. In addition to his prowess in poetry, he knows his way around an essay, too. Yesterday, reading "Notes on Poetry and Philosophy," I noted much of interest, both from Simic and from the poets and philosophers he quotes. For instance, Wallace Stevens once said that the …

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