Beasts Made Sophisticated by Their Simplicity

I've been poking around Robert Bly's bodaciously-big, newly-released Collected Poems, and enjoying his versatility. For instance, poems from his 1975 collection Morning Glory are descriptive gems that would have served as comfort food to Henry David Thoreau out in his cabin by the lake. Of course, in our politically-fraught times, nature poems like these are frowned upon …

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Ditching Social Networks for Answering Poems

By now it's no news that social networks online are not only bad for you but bad for us (or should I say, "U.S."?). If your new year's resolution is to ditch the people who make you and your personal information their product (read: Facebook, Twitter, et al.), you might consider a more ancient form of …

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Forgive Me, Father, for I Am a Father

Playing father to a teenager is work---unpaid work that deserves holiday overtime. Yes, fathers vaguely recall being teenagers themselves, but their own sons are cryptic echoes at best, ciphers not easily solved, and memory is of little use because each child is so different from that little guy called by way of reference from our …

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“Lines Feeding on a Crust of Lamplight”

Yesterday morning, I wrote a "little poem." You won't find that in a glossary of poetry terms, of course, because "little" is fraught with multiple meanings. Think of a little apartment, for instance. For one prospective renter, it's "cramped," and for the next, it's "cozy." In the poetry world, the Kingdom of Little Poetry can …

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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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Angels We Haven’t Heard on High

Yesterday I shared D. H. Lawrence's poem "Song of a Man Who Who Has Come Through," which ends with strange angels at the door ("Admit them, admit them."). It brought to mind these ethereal beings I've given little thought to since childhood, when I was a bit leery about the topic of guardian angels watching …

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Of Little Goats and Alcoholics

Appropriately enough, Kaveh Akbar's collection, Portrait of the Alcoholic, is dedicated quite simply "for drunks." It's not surprising, then, that you get poems dealing with issues of addiction. One has the catchy title, "Besides, Little Goat, You Can't Just Go Asking for Mercy." Well, he could, but it would do him little good if he …

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