The Cruelest Muse

  If you ask people what the top inspirations and subject matters of poetry are, they will likely guess first love ("How do I love thee? Let me count the ways") and second nature ("Roses are red, violets are blue"). Surprisingly, however, one of the most popular muses is the cruelest --- death. This came …

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Guilt as the Root of All Poetry

Emotions and feelings. They are like the gasoline and oil of that engine we call creativity. Take guilt, for instance. A powerful motivator. A source of bitter reflection. And not the type of thing a fugitive from conscience wants chasing after him. Below are two war-related poems with guilt as their tap root. It's the …

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Walking the Thin Line: Nostalgia vs. Sentimentality

No matter how long it has been since you sat behind a school desk, you carry that school desk with you throughout life. For better or worse. With memories good and bad. For teachers, the bittersweet memories consist of two pasts harmonizing fitfully: a student past first and a teacher past second. Perhaps no poems …

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Donald Hall’s Unusual Memento Mori

This past month, we lost another poet of note in Donald Hall, a New England poet whose roots settled deep into the hills of New Hampshire. Hall and Jane Kenyon, as husband and wife, made for one of the most prolifically poetic marriages you could imagine. Sadly, Kenyon's production was cut short by leukemia. Hall, …

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We Hold These Truths To Be Self-Evident…Once You Read Them

One of the most famous lines in Thomas Jefferson's start-the-presses Declaration of Independence is "We hold these truths to be self-evident." OK, let's not get political and note any ironies about what follows ("...that all men are created equal") because you know and I know that inequality is as big in the Age of Trump …

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Leviathan (Or, My Summer Reading List)

There's an old saying, now out of style in our "Supersize me!" society," that goes like this: "My eyes were bigger than my stomach." It means the food looked damn good, so you ordered (bought, cooked, helped yourself to) all of it and then couldn't finish it. The equivalent for readers? "My summer reading ambitions …

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The Importance of Imagery in “Sit and Write” Poems

There are ekphrastic poems, yes, where you write about another painter's vision on canvas, but what about your own vision when you're just hanging out in a favorite spot? That's the premise of what I call a "Sit and Write" poem---one that puts your description skills to the test. For example, I give you Charles …

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