Bringing Color to Your List Poem

Although Dorianne Laux's poem, "Ode to Gray," is dedicated to Sharon Olds, for poets it stands as a unique type of list poem, a more challenging one. What Laux did was what any of us could do, and though the concept is a simple one, the execution is another matter. What you do is start …

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The Poem Outside Your Window

Occam's Razor is a philosophical principle that even laymen like me can understand: When given competing theories, side with the simpler one until proven wrong. At times, in an effort to be novel and upset the apple cart I call Ecclesiastes (where it intones, "There is nothing new under the sun"), poets get overly complicated …

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One Defining Moment Deserves Another

Thinking back to school daze, you'd probably agree that one of the original sins of "education" is a teacher forcing students to copy definitions out of a dictionary. They wrote the Geneva Conventions about stuff like that, no? But definition is, in its humble way, sophisticated stuff. No, not Merriam's or Webster's. Yours. Redefining, or …

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Talk, Talk, Talk: Famous or Not

Some beginning poets are too wary, I think. Too conservative. They don't want to try new forms, sentences or lack of sentences, stanza types, subject matter, et and cetera, because they want to stay within what they believe to be universally accepted lines, the equivalent of using training wheels while they learn to bike. Truth …

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Epistolary Poetry: Secrets and Epiphanies

This month's issue of Poetry offers an interesting poem by Jessica Greenbaum, one that holds up to rereading because, well, it requires as much. It is unusual in a few respects. For one, it is written as an epistolary poem with the salutation, simply enough, as the title. Two, it is one very long sentence, …

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Self-Analysis as Creative Source

The best cure for writer's block is the writer herself. Consider, writer, your field of expertise. Within the goal lines you will surely find these players: self, ego, and consciousness. Now jump in the stream and, as the psychologists say, let yourself go. If you do, and you start with the prompt "I always have …

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