I read somewhere that Adrienne Rich's 1978 book, The Dream of a Common Language, has come to be considered a classic of poetry. This despite the rule (arbitrary, like all rules) that "classics" must steep for at least 50 years before anyone dare designate them canonical. Curious, I took Rich's book out of the library … Continue reading A Leading Poem, Adrienne Rich in Irony
A virtual friend (all my friends are electronically ghostly) sent along this Writer's Almanac interview of that pop poetry institution known as Billy Collins. I like Billy Collins' work, for the most part. Sometimes he rests on his laurels and the overheated aroma of the plant's leaves fetters his free verse, but for the most part … Continue reading Billy Collins & Poisonous Poetry Prescriptions
Rumor has it that Estonian composer Arvo Pärt is an acquired taste, like salmon, Brussels sprouts, and all those other things you steer clear of as a kid. Repetition. Tintinnabulation. Waves of mesmerizing music (much of it religious in nature) washing over you. I love writing poetry to classical music, but none more than Pärt's. … Continue reading If Music Be the Food of Poetry, Play On!
I posted this book review for my (five) readers at Goodreads and thought I'd share it with my (four) readers at the University of WordPress. T'was only a week ago I read David Budbill's Moment to Moment. I didn't want the moment to end, so I inter-library loaned a few more, reading While We've Still … Continue reading Poetry That Fits the (Bud)Bill
What is "good" poetry? What is "bad" poetry? Will you always know it when you see it? Or are the answers to such questions automatically suspect due to the "you" in the latter question? It's a conundrum even Socrates would have trouble beating--we know good poetry when we see it, supposedly, but what happens to … Continue reading The Good (Poetry), the Bad (Poetry), and the Ugly (Poetry)
There's a famous passage from Out of Africa where Isak Dinesen introduces some Kikuyu tribesmen to poetry and its ability to rhyme. She writes the following: The Natives, who have a strong sense of rhythm, know nothing of verse, or at least did not know anything before the times of the schools, where they were … Continue reading “Speak like rain!”
It's always a good day when you stumble upon a book of poetry you love, a day that introduces you to a new poet who has written plenty of other books you can now explore, a day that time forgets but you won't soon because, well, it was so fun being lost in the thicket … Continue reading Where Pretentious Poetry Need Not Apply
George Bilgere is the Ernest Hemingway of contemporary of poets. By that I don't mean he shoots innocent lions in his free time or drinks like a marlin. I mean he makes writing look effortless. The complex simplicity of his work inspires in us a most valuable sentiment: the good old "I can do that, … Continue reading The Ernest Hemingway of Contemporary Poets
What are ideal conditions for writing? Far be it for me to offer advice, but since you didn't ask, I'll relent. First of all, it is a myth that poetry, unlike it's more verbose cousins (novels, plays, essays) is best written on paper. Sure, many famous poets wax poetic (what else?) about blue ink on … Continue reading Ideal Conditions for Writing? Hear Ye, Hear Ye!
It feels like winter still, but the Old Farmer's Almanac says differently. It's the first day of spring. The long-awaited equinox. Poets, like farmers, have forever taken note. It moved Robert "Beginning to Melt" Frost to prayer, for instance: "A Prayer in Spring" Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers today; And give us not … Continue reading Basho Springs a Surprise (and Other Paeans to Spring)