Tuesday, January 29, 2013

January 29th Poetic Ticker Clicking

News Article Tape:
Blog Entry Tape:

January 29th forum announcement

Dear Poetry Aficionados,

Poetry & Poets in Rags blog

If Robert Burns were alive today, he would be 254-years-old. The Ploughman Poet's birthday is celebrated all over the world, wherever there are people who would enjoy Scottish culture and wouldn't mind making a toast over a meal of haggis or some variation thereof. As such, January 25 is an international poetry holiday. We begin our News at Eleven section this week with an article about Burns' contemporaries, looking at how he influenced and was influenced. In our Great Regulars section, the Guardian newspaper's Saturday poem is one by Burns, Bruce's Address to his troops, at the Battle of Bannockburn.

The theme of anniversaries continues. Today is the 50th anniversary of Robert Frost's death. If Russian bard Vladimir Vysotsky were still alive, he would be 75. Articles on these poets are then followed in News at Eleven by critiques of last week's inaugural poem by Richard Blanco. In Great Regulars, both Linda Sue Grimes and David Ulin also look at the poetic merits of Blanco's work.

We have many more articles this week for you. Before signing off, I should mention that these include articles on imprisoned poets Ericson Acosta and Muhammad ibn al-Dheeb al-Ajami, each who are up against governments that are tyrannical and oppressive when it comes to poetry and poets. Like too many around the globe, these poets are in legal battles for their freedom. Thanks for clicking in.


Our links:

IBPC: Poetry & Poets in Rags

Poetry & Poets in Rags blog



News at Eleven: Oh, why should the spirit of mortal be proud?

Like a swift-fleeting meteor, a fast-flying cloud,
A flash of the lightning, a break of the wave,
Man passeth from life to his rest in the grave.

It was only much later I learned that these [by William Knox] were Abraham Lincoln's favourite lines of poetry, and that they were so highly regarded by one of the Tsars (the reference is obscure) that he had them engraved on a golden panel. Even more impressively, it was quoted as an epitaph for The Flash (Barry Allen) in DC Comics Crisis On Infinite Earths #8. Not quite as famous as "Auld Lang Syne", but not bad.

from The Guardian: Burns is not the only bard


News at Eleven: Tuesday marks the 50th anniversary of the death

of the poet Robert Frost, famous for such poems as "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening" and "The Road Not Taken." Fans of Frost's works have another reason to pay special attention to his legacy this week: Jonathan Reichert, professor emeritus at the State University of New York at Buffalo, has just donated a rare collection of Frost materials to the university.

from NPR: Rare Robert Frost Collection Surfaces 50 Years After His Death


News at Eleven: More than 30 years after

his [Vladimir Vysotsky's] death, the gravel-voiced singer remains an idol in Russia.

Most Russians, including the younger generation, still know his songs and poems by heart.

Testifying to his enduring appeal, a film about his life released in 2011 drew huge crowds and earned a record $21 million in its first 10 days at the box office, despite mixed reviews. The film was written by his son, Nikita, and co-produced by Russia's main state-run television station, Channel One.

from Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty: Russians Remember Late Dissident Poet Vysotsky


News at Eleven: I was very inspired by the Democratic National Convention

years ago, where Obama first made a really big splash with the "one America" speech. That has always stayed in my consciousness and that's why there were echoes of that. But I was thinking in the back of my head, People are going to start thinking there was some kind of collaboration on this!

from New York: Inaugural Poet Richard Blanco: 'I Did Not Lip-Synch!'
then The Vancouver Sun: Why is it we never see any public poetry?
then The Weekly Standard: Blanco Verse


News at Eleven: Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Tuesday ordered

the "immediate disposition" of a petition for review filed by detained poet-activist Ericson Acosta, who is currently confined at the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI) in Quezon City.

Acosta had sought a meeting with De Lima, complaining in a letter that he was arrested 23 months ago in Samar without a warrant and was tortured, while his petition for a review of his case has been pending at the justice department for several months.

De Lima, in a response texted to the Philippine Daily Inquirer, said she would not be  able to meet with Acosta.

from Philippine Daily Inquirer: Finally, DOJ takes notice of poet-activist’s plea
then GMA News: Poet-activist Ericson Acosta's plea resolved in next few days--PAO chief
then Free Ericson Acosta: Detained poet welcomes DOJ action, supporters to Sec. de Lima: FREE ACOSTA NOW!


News at Eleven: [Najeeb al-Nauimi] views the poet [Muhammad ibn al-Dheeb al-Ajami]'s

case as an opportunity to try to roll back some of the hard-line codes on public expression in Qatar as an example to other countries in the region.

"(The emir) can pull the plug on this. I can just pick up the phone. I wouldn't advise that," said al-Nauimi. "I don't want to drop the case. The judiciary system has to correct itself."

"Look," he continued. "They say there is free speech except if it's against the ruler or his family or his relatives or the dignity of the state or the crown prince or his family or the dignity of the crown prince. What's left? A political person can just criticize himself. That's it."

from The Associated Press: Qatar poet appeal becomes test for Web crackdowns
then The Associated Press: Lawyer: Qatar poet appeals life sentence
then BBC News: Sporting events shine spotlight on Qatar's human rights


News at Eleven: "You know, I have just made a change

to a poem. I should tell the publisher. In Running Into You, the speaker describes the ex-husband as being covered with the new partner, 'like a child working with glue/who's young to be working with glue'. One critic pointed out this was the only nasty line in the collection . . . I take criticism very seriously. And I looked at it again and thought, 'Oh my God, that is true.' It wasn't exact enough. I've added the line, 'or was I the one playing with glue?' I was the one having trouble getting unstuck from him."

from The Guardian: Sharon Olds: Confessions of a divorce


News at Eleven: [Olga Rudge] had won, had run off her rival,

Dorothy Pound, the wife--Miss Rudge, you are no lady! As the four funeral gondoliers gather speed she can feel the Adriatic breezes in her hair. Of course he hadn't been the Ezra she first met, but she had him all to herself for the final ten years. Few women would count that as a triumph, many friends probably laughed at her, taking in a geriatric poet, a philanderer, only a few years out of the lunatic ward. But they'd never seen him young, never read those first pneumatiques that shuttled through the underground tubes from Left Bank to Right, the faded blue paper, his letters always closing with the same endearment--she was Cara, una bella figliuola, a beautiful young girl.

from Granta: The Quality of the Affection: Part One


News at Eleven: [Joseph Mallord William] Turner had first visited

Teesdale in 1797, long before [Walter] Scott. In all he made four visits to the area, the final one in 1831, when he was specifically working on illustrations for Scott's poems. His first visit was made a year after Thomas Girtin had toured the area, and was probably made at his friend and rival's suggestion.

Scott visited Rokeby Park several times while writing Rokeby, and descriptions of the landscape feature prominently in the poem--as, for example, in these florid lines on a sunset in the area:

from The Guardian: Walter Scott's poems and Turner's paintings celebrated in an exhibition at the Bowes Museum


News at Eleven: It required [Christian] Bok to compose two poems--

abbreviated sonnets, he calls them--using a lexicon that allows them to mutually encipher each other. The first poem is than translated into a sequence of DNA and implanted into the genome of the durable but harmless Deinococcus Radiodurans. In theory, the sequence would also act as a set of instructions that causes the organism to respond with another protein that, when decoded, reveals itself to be the second poem. Because of the hardy nature of the bacteria, these poems would live on forevermore.

from Calgary Herald: When sonnets and science collide: Christian Bok nearing end of long quest to create a living poem


News at Eleven (Back Page): I would advise anyone who wants to ask

if something is dead on the Internet to first ascertain that the people engaged in the doing of that thing are not wordsmiths by trade. If you ask if mime is dead, the worst that will happen is that someone will lean angrily on an imaginary wall in your general direction. (Now, the instant I type this, I assume letters will start pouring in on every side from mimes.) But if they are wordsmiths, they will send you a lot of messages, often peppered with beautiful quotations, and if you are as susceptible as I am to beautiful quotations you will crawl off into a hole somewhere and wonder if Wallace Stevens would really be as disappointed in you as they are making out. It hardly seems worth it.

from The Washington Post: 'Poetry is not dead,' says poetry
then The Washington Post: Is poetry dead?


Great Regulars: With Peter Grimes, Billy Budd and Death in Venice,

[Benjamin] Britten made opera a British art, and countless other works made it possible to hold up our musical heads after three centuries of under-achievement. How high we can hold them remains a matter of dispute; for me he has never quite stood alongside the best of his time.

from Bryan Appleyard: from The Sunday Times: Look, Stranger: Lives of Britten


Great Regulars: At the heart of [Garrett] Hongo's poems

are his West Coast, Hawaiian and Japanese American experiences, including his family's history in the detention camps of Word War II. Hongo is not a poetry stylist. Instead, he's an accumulator of experiences, which is a hallmark of the Portland School.

Given his longevity in the state, Hongo is surely the first poet of this contemporary wave of the Portland School, an established figurehead, a beloved teacher for his cantankerous passions and literary knowledge. Here is his well-known poem, "The Legend."

The Legend

from David Biespiel: The Oregonian: And now, time for the Portland School of Poets


Great Regulars: [John J.] Ross recently sat down with Jeffrey Brown

to discuss the book, including what Shakespeare's handwriting might reveal about syphilis, how the Bronte family's fatal collision with a Victorian plague made an appearance in "Jane Eyre," and old medical practices like the use of "mummy," or ground-up human flesh and bone. They also explore why readers today should even care about these old illnesses--especially when many of them could be treated so much more effectively today.

from Jeffrey Brown: PBS: Newshour: Did Shakespeare Have Syphilis?


Great Regulars: Then after another catalogue from steel workers

to business report writers, to doctors/nurses/seamstresses, to artists, and back to construction workers who set "the last floor on the Freedom Tower/jutting into a sky that yields to our resilience."  Again, an absurd claim that the sky "yields to our resilience" offers itself as the posturing of postmodernist drivel that passes for poetry.

from Linda Sue Grimes: Suite101.com: Richard Blanco's "One Today"


The best image in this piece is "the plum blush of dusk."  Unfortunately, it is set in the emptiest vessel on the page, the last versagraph.  The speaker says, "We head home."  Nothing had actually taken us away from home.  We did, however, "crescendo" into our day, and the speaker has certainly alluded to a wide variety of workers who would have left home to work, but the very specific, "we head home," seems to come out of nowhere and fastens readers to a journey on which they had not necessarily been traveling.

from Linda Sue Grimes: Suite101.com: Vernon Scannell's "Makers and Creatures"


Great Regulars: Bryan Collier's illustration for a book edition

of Langston Hughes' poem "I, Too, Am America" received a Coretta Scott King prize for outstanding work by an African-American. Andrea Davis Pinkney's "Hand in Hand" won the King award for best text.

from Hillel Italie: Associated Press: Applegate wins Newbery; Klassen takes Caldecott


Great Regulars: cats and you and me

by Charles Bukowski

the Egyptians loved the cat

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: cats and you and me by Charles Bukowski


Dead Horse
by Thomas Lux

At the fence line, I was about to call him in when,

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: Dead Horse by Thomas Lux


Farm Scenes
by Robert Bly

Snow falls in the feeding lot

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: Farm Scenes by Robert Bly


A Little Shiver
by Barton Sutter

After the news, the forecaster crowed

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: A Little Shiver by Barton Sutter


Lonely Harvest
by Margaret S. Mullins

As a child, my father helped me dig

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: Lonely Harvest by Margaret S. Mullins


by Philip Booth

So, there's no way to be sure. Not

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: So by Philip Booth


Their Lonely Betters
by W. H. Auden

As I listened from a beach-chair in the shade

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: Their Lonely Betters by W. H. Auden


Great Regulars: Here, then, is part of what it takes

to be a great Torah scholar: the ability to perform feats of memory and logic, to reason strictly from premise to conclusion. Two things strike me about this sacralization of the intellect. The first is that, for the rabbis, this kind of thinking is not just impressive; it is itself the supreme expression of piety, since Torah study is the highest Jewish obligation. We please God most not by feeling or even praying, but by thinking. The second is how very unusual this value system is, historically speaking.

from Adam Kirsch: Tablet: Rabbinic Mind Games


The obligation to tear your clothes applies only in the case of the death of a relative; to tear your clothes for that reason would indeed violate Shabbat, because it would be carrying out a positive obligation. What the Mishnah has in mind is tearing your clothes over a non-relative, which is not obligatory and is therefore strictly destructive. It is a seemingly inverted logic: On Shabbat, you are not allowed to do what you are supposed to do, and you are allowed to do what you are not supposed to do.

But the Gemara is not done turning over this question.

from Adam Kirsch: Tablet: Things Broken and Repaired


Great Regulars: If you've followed this column through

a good part of the seven years we've been publishing it, you know how hooked I am on poems that take a close look at the ordinary world. Here's a fine poem by Eamon Grennan, who lives in New York state, about bees caught up against a closed window.

Up Against It

from Ted Kooser: American Life in Poetry: Column 410


Great Regulars: My late colleague Joseph Brodsky,

who died in 1996, used to appall his students by requiring them to memorize something like a thousand lines each semester. He felt he was preparing them for the future; they might need such verses later in life. His own biography provided a stirring example of the virtues of mental husbandry. He'd been grateful for every scrap of poetry he had in his head during his enforced exile in the Arctic, banished there by a Soviet government that did not know what to do with his genius and that, in a symbolic embrace of a national policy of brain drain, expelled him from the country in 1972.

from Brad Leithauser: The New Yorker: Why We Should Memorize


Great Regulars: The Street

By Lewis Turco

In the street the wind gutters, moving papers

from Wesley McNair: The Portland Press Herald: Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry


Great Regulars: [By Robert Pinsky]

The primate that for a time rose to dominate that planet

from Robert Pinsky: The Smithsonian: "Evolution of the Host"--A New Poem by Robert Pinsky


Great Regulars: by Miles Salter

The trick is in the phrasing. Use first names,

from Jody Porter: Morning Star: Well Versed: Miles Salter--The Big Society


Great Regulars: This is not very much to offset the horrors

of the frontline report from the country of final rendition. And that's how it should be. Old age is not for wimps (as someone said). We need poets to tell the truth about it. "Rendition" is not a horror-poem but an intense and courageous account of some undeniable facts of the "civilised" life.

[by Chris Wallace-Crabbe]


from Carol Rumens: The Guardian: Poem of the week: Rendition by Chris Wallace-Crabbe


Great Regulars: And yet, it's hard to merge poetry and politics,

which we discussed in regard to the Blanco poem. Tobar saw the touch of Whitman in its sweeping rhythms, which use the imagery of a day in America to get at what unifies us all. I found the poem more uneven, at its best when Blanco wrote of his experience, especially in the image of someone on the way to "ring up groceries as my mother did/for twenty years, so I could write this poem."

from David L. Ulin: Los Angeles Times: Hector Tobar and David L. Ulin on the inauguration as literature


Great Regulars: [by Robert Burns]

SCOTS, wha hae wi' Wallace bled,

from The Guardian: The Saturday poem: Bruce's Address to his troops, at the Battle of Bannockburn


Great Regulars: By Gerald Stern

The part that we avoided was not the heart

from PBS: Newshour: Weekly Poem: 'Frogs'


Great Regulars: [by Nicole Cohen]

black Velvet

the way I see it,

from San Antonio Express-News: Poem: 'black Velvet'


Great Regulars: "How To Glow"

By Dean Young

from Slate: "How To Glow"


Poetic Obituaries: "I think coming to Elko and reading his poetry

at the Cowboy Poetry Gathering gave him a larger audience," she [Rodney Louis "Rod" McQueary's mother, Eloise] said. "That was a powerful experience for him. Later, he would use that poetry to express the tough things he went through in Vietnam." In 1993, McQueary and his friend Bill Jones published "Blood Trails," a book of poems based on both of the men's experiences in Vietnam. Some of McQueary's other stories, many light-hearted and humorous, have been published in numerous anthologies, including "Buckaroo: Visions and Voices of the American West" and "Cowboy Poetry: The Reunion." He and his wife, Wyoming legislator Sue Wallis, co-wrote "The Cowboy Cattle-log" and published "Surviving the Good Life," a memoir of Wallis' grandmother.

from Times-News: Rod McQueary: A Cowboy Poet Remembered


Poetic Obituaries: In 2009, the American Literary Translators Association

(ALTA) initiated the Lucien Stryk Prize, which recognizes the importance of Asian translation for international literature and promotes the translation of Asian works into English.

Stryk wrote and edited more than two-dozen volumes of poetry, translations and collections. His works included editing two volumes of Midwestern poetry, "Heartland I" and "Heartland II," which put the poetry of the Midwest on the map, according to one former colleague. His own poetry was translated into Japanese, Chinese, French, Spanish, Swedish and Italian. He conducted readings at hundreds of universities worldwide.

from Northern Illinois University Today: NIU mourns death of famed poet Lucien Stryk


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

January 22nd Poetic Ticker Clicking

News Article Tape:
Blog Entry Tape:

January 22nd forum announcement

Dear Poetry Aficionados,

Poetry & Poets in Rags blog

Big news in poetry this week, and the top story is Richard Blanco's poem, which he spoke at Barack Obama's inauguration yesterday. So we begin there in our News at Eleven section. In Great Regulars, Jeffrey Brown speaks with Blanco, and further down in alphabetical order, Carol Rumens posts a commentary on the poem, after which a discussion thread has ensued.

How to give a dead writer nightmares. How would you like it if your greatest personal detractor became your literary executor? This is precisely what happened to Sylvia Plath. Her sister-in-law, Olwyn Hughes, is interviewed by Sam Jordison for The Guardian newspaper. That's our third story. Before this, our second story is an interview with the more level-headed Elizabeth Sigmund, a friend of Sylvia's. You will also find a poem by Plath in the Garrison Keillor links in our Great Regulars section.

There is more, much more, in poetry news this week, and I leave all the rest for your discovery. Thanks for clicking in.


Our links:

IBPC: Poetry & Poets in Rags

Poetry & Poets in Rags blog



News at Eleven: One expects the reviews of Obama's speech

will be as varied as the political opinions of those who heard it. To this ear, it often drifted into territory that might have been more appropriate to the State of a Union address he has to deliver next month. But Blanco's poem was a reminder of why so many presidents have resisted the idea of having an inaugural poem--the fear that the professional wordsmith's lines will somehow outshine the politician's.

The full text of "One Today," as provided by the inaugural committee:

from The Los Angeles Times: Inauguration 2013: Richard Blanco's poem captures nation's hope, unease
then The New Yorker: Poetry for Presidents
then The Smithsonian: Poetry Matters: Lessons From America's First Inaugural Poet


News at Eleven: "When Sylvia went up to stay with his parents

and Olwyn was there, Olwyn was very affronted because the Hughes family treated Sylvia as if she were something special; being an American was regarded as very special. Sylvia was voicing her opinion about something and Olwyn got up and said: 'You're not the daughter in this family, I am and I wish you'd shut up.' And that was the first time Sylvia really knew that Olwyn hated her.

"When Sylvia died Ted knew that Olwyn hated her and he appointed her as the sole executor for her work. She was appointed as the agent for Ted and for Sylvia.

from The Guardian: Interview: Elizabeth Sigmund, dedicatee of The Bell Jar--Reading group


News at Eleven: I wish the newspapers would get it right.

He didn't even know that Sylvia would find out about Assia. He'd done everything he could to be very discreet. It was just one of those things . . . And of course Sylvia, when she did hear about it, it reminded her of all her terrors about abandonment and everything else. She wouldn't listen to anything but separation and divorce. But he didn't leave her for Assia. That's just not true. He was actually staying on friends' floors in London until he got a little place by himself. He certainly wasn't living with Assia.

Oh and she took all the money out of their bank account. She was a monster actually.

from The Guardian: Interview: Olwyn Hughes, Sylvia Plath's literary executor


News at Eleven: [Ted Kooser and Kathleen Rutledge] moved

in the same circles and chatted casually at social gatherings. "I began to pursue her--relentlessly," Kooser says. His silver Datsun, she noticed, always seemed to be casing her neighborhood. One day as she was walking to the grocery store, he slowed his car, leaned out the window and asked if she would help him with his velvet string tie. He was on his way to a party--quite "poet-like" in his corduroy jacket and ruffled dress shirt. She tied his tie, only to leave her gloves on the front seat of his car. "It might have been a Freudian slip," she teases.

from Inspired Home Omaha: The Artificial Florist


News at Eleven: [Wendell] Berry moved his analogical eye

back and forth between these two things in order to evoke from them a deeper reality that is always very hard to speak about: form. Poetry and marriage, said Berry, are both caught up in the paradox of form, the paradox in which strict limits are imposed, and somehow simultaneously a great possibility is established.

from Patheos: Form: How a Marriage is Like a Poem (Wendell Berry)


News at Eleven: Moon

by Kathleen Jamie

Last night, when the moon

from The Guardian: The Overhaul by Kathleen Jamie--review


News at Eleven: Though desire and domestic discord are

the author [Evelyn Lau]'s recognized motifs, her contemporary titles evaluate the passing seasons. "I think aging--the physical body, mortality, decrepitude--has always interested me. Even when I was young," she says. "And now that I'm getting older, it's interesting me in a different way--to see those physical changes and also to move into different phases of life."

Asked if distilling despair into words provides catharsis, she replies that doing so can have the opposite effect, similar to reopening a wound.

from Straight: Vancouver's poet laureate Evelyn Lau finds inspiration in solitude


News at Eleven: It is [T.S.] Eliot's sheer energy and commitment

that impresses most, as he solicits writers across Europe, participates in debate, supplies references and introductions, arranges meetings, agrees terms, and soothes contributors, always returning unwanted submissions courteously and offering helpful advice. He frequently has to apologise for being in arrears, but he never gives up, always answers.

It can't be said that such administrative excellence makes for non-stop excitement.

from The Scotsman: Sponsored byBook review: The Letters of TS Eliot, vol. 4


News at Eleven: This poem, typed on a manual typewriter,

begins: "Here is a revolver." It ends 11 lines later: "And nothing in human philosophy persists more strangely than the old belief that God is always on the side of those who have the most revolvers."

As [Ernie] Gullerud entered this basic information for "A Revolver," he felt compelled to read the lines in between.

"It's just amazing how something written way back then is relevant today," he said.

from University of Illinois: News Bureau: Previously unknown Sandburg poem focuses on power of the gun
then University of Illinois: A Revolver


News at Eleven: [Ericson] Acosta, 40, whose siblings now

all live with their own families abroad, is a cultural worker and activist arrested by the military in San Jorge, Samar while doing volunteer research work for a local peasant group. Acosta has been detained at the Calbayog Sub-Provincial Jail for 23 months on trumped-up charges of illegal possession of explosives.

Yesterday, Acosta's supporters were pleasantly surprised to confirm that the Gandara RTC in Samar granted him temporary release for a medical check-up.

from Samar News: Detained poet gets temporary release, reunites with family and friends after first ever plane ride


News at Eleven (Back Page): The International Federation for Human Rights

(FIDH) expresses deep concern over the sentencing of Qatari poet Mohamad Ibn al-Deeb Al-Ajami to life imprisonment following a trial marred by irregularities. Al-Ajami, sentenced on 29 November 2012, has been granted leave to appeal. The Court of Appeals will commence a review of the case on 27 January 2013.

from The International Federation for Human Rights: Qatar: Appeals Court Should drop all charges against Qatari Poet Al-Ajami


Great Regulars: Richard Blanco: I will say--

I mean, I will say, in a word, unity.

I think that's something that's always been on my mind since trying to fit in since I was a kid, since I was a Cuban American kid and that sense of . . .

Jeffrey Brown: Trying to fit into what?

Richard Blanco: To what is the American ideal or what I thought was the American ideal.

from Jeffrey Brown: PBS: Newshour: Inauguration Poet Richard Blanco Hopes to Offer Words of Unity, Belonging


Great Regulars: The focus of [Pierre] Nepveu's extended

meditations in this collection (fluidly translated by Donald Winkler) are "the major verbs": as he puts it, "to be born, to grow, to love,/to think, to believe, to die."

Nepveu summons the minutiae of daily life as talismans of something more meaningful. In the second section of the book, "Stones on a Table" are the objects of the poet's attention. But they become much more than a handful of rocks.

from Barbara Carey: Toronto Star: Poetry reviews: The Major Verbs by Pierre Nepveu and Soul Mouth by Marilyn Bowering


Great Regulars: Child

by Sylvia Plath

Your clear eye is the one absolutely beautiful thing.

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: Child by Sylvia Plath


A Fable
by Louise Gluck

Two women with

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: A Fable by Louise Gluck


His Elderly Father as a Young Man
by Leo Dangel

This happened before I met your mother:

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: His Elderly Father as a Young Man by Leo Dangel


Poem About an Owl
by Deborah Garrison

I've never seen an owl

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: Poem About an Owl by Deborah Garrison


Praise of a Collie
by Norman MacCaig

She was a small dog, neat and fluid--

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: Praise of a Collie by Norman MacCaig


The Raven (excerpt)
by Edgar Allan Poe

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: The Raven (excerpt) by Edgar Allan Poe


by J.D. McClatchy

I like trees because they seem more resigned to
the way they have to live than other things do.
Willa Cather

Here the oak and silver-breasted birches

from Garrison Keillor: The Writer's Almanac: Resignation by J.D. McClatchy


Great Regulars: It's wonderful when a very young person

discovers the pleasures of poetry and gives it a try. Here's a poem by a first grader, Andrew Jones of Ferndale, Washington, who, if we're lucky, will go on to write poems the rest of his life.

The Softest Word

from Ted Kooser: American Life in Poetry: Column 409


Great Regulars: Recent books show how poetry is

indeed women's work and how they excel.

The current U.S. poet laureate is Natasha Trethewey, who is also a Pulitzer Prize winner for "Native Guard" (2006) and state poet laureate of Mississippi. "Thrall: Poems" continues Trethewey's theme of social justice in the Americas, especially for people of color. She examines historic antecedents for origins of current attitudes.

from Denise Low: The Kansas City Star: Collections by four female poets touch on cultural identity, nature and myth


Great Regulars: The Alligator's Hum

By Kenneth Rosen

To allure an alligator lady so she'll allow him

from Wesley McNair: The Portland Press Herald: Take Heart: A Conversation in Poetry


Great Regulars: [by E. Ethelbert Miller]

ocean, tiger, BIRD.

Where is the music that will melt

from E. Ethelbert Miller: E-notes: ocean, tiger, BIRD.


Great Regulars: Shall we dance? In that moment

when I take your hand and lead you onto the dance floor, we cross the threshold from the routine world to the realm of music, art, and song. We enter the realm of rhythm, elegance, glamour, and poetry.

In this poem, Robert Burns looks on in rapture as a woman "leads the dance." Maria was once no doubt a real woman: now she appears before us as a living vision. She could be Terpsichore, Muse of music and dance, or the heavenly Venus herself.

from Christopher Nield: The Epoch Times: The Antidote--Classic Poetry for Modern Life: A Reading of 'On Maria Dancing' by Robert Burns


Great Regulars: [Louise] Glück has always (and self-consciously)

favored abstraction over particularity--from the beginning, she's written lines that are almost completely devoid of the kind of chatty reportage and pop cultural name-dropping that have been common in American poetry since the death of Frank O'Hara. A Glück poem is dreamlike, chilly, enigmatic. It is still. It is spare. It is almost aggressively concentrated. It revolves around words like "dark," "pond," "soul," "body" and "earth."

from David Orr: The New York Times: Louise Glück's Metamorphoses