Mining the Synergy of Opposites

Contrast. Nothing tells a story quite like it. Consider the juxtaposition of junk car parked next to new Porsche, of grandmother in her wheelchair posing with her 5-year-old granddaughter for pictures, of homeless man sleeping under cardboard against the smooth base of a financial-district skyscraper. In poetry, contrast can work its magic, too. Past and …

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200 Candles for Ivan Turgenev!

It's hard to keep up with family birthdays, much less venerated writers' birthdays. You stumble across them by accident on the Internet, however. How else would I know that Ivan Turgenev just turned 200 on Nov. 9th? Like many bibliophiles, I have fond memories of my Russian phase. In fact, if my literary leanings were to …

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Teaching Poetry: A Better Way

As a poet, I'm not shy about sharing my own poems for teaching purposes in the classroom, and if you teach, you shouldn't be, either. Yes, my work is published, but that doesn't matter. I shared my poems before I was published, and you can, too. Students like seeing their teacher's own work, and it's …

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Choosing Poems for a Poetry Reading

When you first begin the task of choosing poems for a poetry reading, it's like walking into a grocery store's cereal aisle where the choices are so vast they overwhelm the shopper. In the case of poetry, do you choose funny poems or contemplative poems, fancy poems or simple poems, poems with sound devices or …

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Work in Progress — A Better Way

We all know the joke by now--the sign on the road reading MEN WORKING. It's how we learned the word "oxymoron" as the car sped past workers in hardhats leaning on shovels, sipping Dunkin Donuts coffees, chatting each other up. "Work in Progress" is another matter, one with greater meaning and impact. As my third …

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What Does “National Poetry Month” Actually Mean? I Found the Answers.

I almost forgot, but it's National Poetry Month. How I ever went a full week without realizing it is beyond me, but here we are and here I am, apparently unscathed. What the heck does National Poetry Month mean, anyway? Is it more inept political meddling on the part of our Do-Nothing Congress led by …

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Of Wu Wei, Idylls, and Other Escapes

Idyll. It's one of my favorite words, bringing to mind, as it does, a perfect and simple world, pre-industrialization, pre-technology. Heading out to the country always sounds like good advice, like the perfect escape, like Huck Finn lighting out for the territories at the end of his book. Then there's its homophone, idle. Yes. When …

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Poems About Sickness

In the northeast, flu is running at a fevered-pitch with the highest rates we've seen in years. Luckily, I'm only dealing with the oh-so-common cold, but it's slowed me down with its favored weapon, the sinus headache. So instead of some deep, thoughtful, controversial, mind-provoking (all right, enough with the thesaurus) post, today I offer …

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