Billy Collins, Animated

Billy Collins, one of the most recognized among American poets, did a wise thing years ago. He harnessed the power of video to many of his poems. This not only helped poet-writers with the art of imagery, it also gave reluctant poet-readers (often known as "students") a door into the not-so-bad-after-all genre of poetry. Given …

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Rebecca Solnit on the “Astonishing Wealth” Called “Writing”

Montaigne would be proud. This week I have been reading more essays, specifically Rebecca Solnit's in her 2013 collection, The Faraway Nearby. In an essay called "Flight," she devotes a few paragraphs to the act of writing and, as is only necessary, reading (because what's one without the other?). I thought it was interesting. Maybe …

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How Teachers Can Make Challenging Poems Fun

For reasons that border on unreasonable, elementary-aged students love poetry (usually rhyming) and middle- and high school-aged students detest it (especially when they are tested on it). Perhaps this is because of stodgy assigned works from textbooks and/or old warhorses that continually get trotted out as assigned readings. Perhaps it is because students are often …

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How Voice Escorts Us into the “Interior of the World”

It seems fitting that Tony Hoagland's farewell book to the world would tackle the concept of voice. If any poet knew of what he spoke, Hoagland was the man. Whether you read his poems or his sage essays about poems or writing poetry, you "heard" Hoagland and felt as if you were lucky to have …

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“Stop Thinking with Your Fingers”

This Memorial Day weekend,  I've been poking around Robert Caro's new book, Working. In the introduction, I came across an interesting anecdote and a phrase I took a shining to. Caro (pictured above as a young man) talks about his Princeton days when he was taking a Creative Writing course with the literary critic and …

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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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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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