When the World Slaps You, Poetry…

One of the themes running through Gregory Orr's book,  Poetry as Survival, is the role of trauma and adversity in the creative process. The "survival" in Orr's title speaks to the lyric poet's need to make sense of past difficulty, hardship, and pain. One poet who Orr quotes is Stanley Kunitz. In the first, more …

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Larkin in the Dark

By definition, an aubade is "a dawn song expressing the regret of parting lovers at daybreak" (Edward Hirsch, A Poet's Glossary). Today, for the first time, I read Philip Larkin's "Aubade" thanks to a tip within the New York Times Book Review. No lovers for Larkin. And I learned this was his final poem. Fitting, …

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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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News Flash: Poetry Matters Again!

The September 2018 issue of The Atlantic --- a bit briny as usual --- just beached itself in my mailbox and lo, there was a feature article on poetry in it! What's more, it's headline proclaimed ("Dewey Wins!"-like) "How Poetry Came to Matter Again." Which means, in case you haven't been paying attention, that poetry hasn't …

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Donald Hall on Poetry: Revising, Sharing, & Critiquing

While reading The Selected Poems of Donald Hall, I jumped to the "Postscriptum," where Hall offers up some thoughts on poetry writing -- and especially on poetry sharing with someone who could give competent feedback. In Hall's lucky case, he was married to that person, fellow poet Jane Kenyon, until she died of leukemia at the ridiculously …

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A Few Words from St. Billy of Collins

Returning to the book, Light the Dark (see yesterday's post), let's look for illumination in Billy Collins' essay included in that collection. In it he references an earlier essay he wrote called "Poetry, Pleasure, and the Hedonist Reader." I sought it on-line and instead found the essay that's in this book, which was originally written for The …

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The Only Tool Needed To “Get” Poetry

I spent most of yesterday afternoon and evening sick in bed. My bedside companion was not Nurse Nightingale, but Matthew Zapruder's book, Why Poetry. Books read when your fogged brain has one lobe in Kubla Khan's rich-scented gardens are always memorable, and this one distracted me mightily despite my dizzy spells and headache. I plan …

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In Which I Critique a Book of Critiques

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 …

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