Mirror as Poem as Mirror

In today's New York Times Magazine, Rita Dove selects a Jericho Brown poem about Jericho Brown called, quite simply yet not simply at all, "Dark." I say that because "dark" is one of those adjectives that can denote (and connote) many meanings, as certainly it does here. And though we've been discussing the poetry 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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Why Do You Write? Seven Reasons

It was good to receive the holiday Poets & Writers “Inspiration Issue,” which includes inspiring interviews with seven established poets, none of whom look anything like me (instead, I sadly look like the Powers-That-Be I loathe in Washington Swamp. C., making me feel like an Ugly Duckling on the Good Pond Poetry, one who 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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How Abstract “Sets” into Concrete

Abstractions are hard---to write about successfully. Especially when concretes have to do all the talking for them. As Exhibit A, I give you the concept of "silence." It's basically a nothing that is something. But how do you describe it? If you look at a long list of abstract nouns and pick one to write …

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Insights From a Man Booker Judge

October 16th. You know what that means. It's Man Booker Day, the day five judges will meet at a secret location in a not-so-secret city called London to pluck a winner from the shortlist (it should take eight hours or so). What's in it for the authors? Most excellent sales, for one thing. Not that …

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Why Do Some Poems Inspire You To Write While Others Don’t?

After Roman Coliseum-like spectacles like yesterday's special Senate hearing on the pending Supreme Court nomination, one can't help but curl up in a ball of despair or read poetry. I chose poetry. It took my mind off ugly things and reminded me of what can be beautiful in life. For succor, I chose my copy …

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A Certain, Lovely Ghostliness

There is more poetry in autumn than summer, it would seem. Traveling from the congested highways of an overcrowded Commonwealth to the quiet shorelines of a Maine lake proves as much. Last night we arrived to high winds and whitecaps. This morning I arise to clear, Canadian air, sun, calm. That coupled with the possibility …

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