An Abundance of Moments, an Embarrassment of Neglect

Pinch yourself. You're alive. But how do you know, and what is it you're hardly noticing as days roll in and out with numbing regularity? Answer: a lot. Solution: the five senses. Even more so the four neglected senses. You know how partial we are to our eyes. To sight. The favored child among our …

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No! Don’t Do It! (Never Mind)

Sometimes watching a college basketball coach's reactions reminds me of the Guardians of Poetry -- those priests and priestesses who guard the keep and issue pronouncements about poetry. You know, the "Thou Shalts" and the "Thou Shalt Nots." Consider the coach when he sees his shooting guard launch a 3-point shot from well beyond the …

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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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Dillard and Chee: Writing Teacher and Student

I just finished Alexander Chee's essay collection How To Write an Autobiographical Novel. The thing about essays written in the first person is the effect. As is true with first-person POV novels, you begin to feel as though you know the author. Of course you do not, but the conceit is there, and at times …

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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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The Number One Trait of a True Poet?

What is the number one trait of a true poet? Good question, and one which opens with talking points about the abstract (traits like "creativity") vs. the concrete (harder-edged stuff, like "skills"). For the sake of argument, then, let's dig in with skills. Some skills you'd like to find in an accomplished poet's toolbox might …

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Writing Workshop: 10 Holiday Poetry Prompts

Today is the Winter Solstice, the official day for holiday poetry prompts. Yes, it's winter for all of us northern hemisphere types and officially summer for all of those people laughing at us from the southern hemi. Are we jealous? No. We have writing to do, and enough cozy indoors to do it in. Here …

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Mommy Dearest vs. Writers Block (Like Godzilla vs. King Kong!)

Just finished John McPhee's newest collection of essays, Draft No. 4, and though it's not a writing advice book per se, it does contain its fair share of writerly wisdom, many of interest to poets. Here are some quotes from the book along with comments from the peanut gallery. "Though a man be more prone …

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