Saturday, December 10, 2011

Poet stamps!

Coming to a U.S. Post Office near you in March. Assuming we still have the post office then. Now go mail some shit.
Via Axis of Abraxas.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Friday, October 7, 2011

Laurie Saurborn Young is brilliant, but you don't have to take my word for it

The lovely and talented Laurie Saurborn Young gave a really great interview to The American Literary Review. It was one of the best poetry-related things I've read in a long time. Sure it doesn't hurt that I think Laurie is awesome or that we once hung out in North Carolina. Or that the string of airstream trailer lights she gave to me hang on my porch all year.

In the interview she says that she writes "to figure out the world and to discover a way to exist in the world. A way to explore science and the animal world. As I’ve continued to write, I’ve accrued more confidence. With confidence I’ve allowed more space to enter the poems, in terms of structure and form and also in terms of saying the strange things I am thinking and being able to marry them to the human condition. Places of commonality, if you will."

This is pretty much exactly the reason I love poetry, though expressed in an articulate fashion I am likely incapable of.

Her first book, Carnavoria, will be published by H_NGM_N BKS in 2012. I, personally, expect the wait to be excrutiating.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Taha Muhammad Ali has died

Palestinian poet Taha Muhammad Ali has died. He was 80 years old. I saw him read a couple of years ago at UofM and it was one of the best and most moving readings I have ever been to. I can't help but think that if more people read his poetry then the Palestinians would have a much better chance at getting a state, at living in peace, at being seen as human, even. May he rest in a peace that did not exist during his life.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Monday, September 12, 2011

Danielle Steele is "hungry / for your face"

In "The Poetry of Danielle Steel", Lamar Clarkson does a close reading of Danielle Steel's 1984 poetry classic Love.

"Subtract the daring enjambment and add a blinking laptop cursor with a voiceover and you basically have Carrie Bradshaw, 15 years ahead of schedule, but without those annoying egg-white omelets. Our narrator eats real eggs. (We know this because she is always making breakfast for men who may not return.)"

Via The Hairpin.

Friday, September 2, 2011

14 years later

Poetry posted "To You" by Kenneth Koch to their Facebook page this morning. It feels aimed right at me, or, really, from me to my wife, in light of our 14 year anniversary yesterday. Happy Anniversary, Babe! I love you.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Anis Shivani's poetry dump

Anis Shivani shits all over Sharon Olds, Jorie Graham, Louise Glück, and Philip Levine in the Huffington Post. It's like the 2 Girls 1 Cup of poetry essays.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

"Curiosity Kills" by Joel Watson

Um, yeah. I can definitely see how curiosity could be a bad thing. Kids should really re-think the whole "monkey as pets" ideal portrayed in the Curious George books.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Philip Levine, please save us

With the current state of the U.S. economy, I can't help but find it sadly ironic that Philip Levine, "the voice of the working man," is now our Poet Laureate. Much deserved, mind you. I'm just feeling pretty pessimistic.

Here's an old interview with Levine that is worth reading.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Blair is gone

Detroit poet David Blair has passed away. I don't have any details as of yet, but I do know that there's a big hole in the world now. He was a friend to many people and a vibrant part of Detroit's poetry community. He will be dearly missed.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Megan Levad is not a drunken slut

But she is my friend and an awesome poet. Her poem "I’m more the drunken slut kind of feminist, or A Treatise on Political Philosophy at the Apex of American Empire" is online at along with an awesome picture of Ms. Levad herself. Hooray, Megan!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Charles Wright on PBS

"I used to imagine...that language could lead us inexplicably to grace as though it were geographical." - Charles Wright

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Be submissive

Poet Karyna McGlynn offers some really good tips for submitting your stuff. Read and follow. I was lucky enough to be in the same MFA program with her and she's a really awesome poet. She's also been published pretty much everywhere, so this lady knows what she's talking about.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Jane Goodall books for kids

I love Jane Goodall. I really can't think of a better hero for a kids' book, which makes me very happy about Me...Jane by Patrick McDonnell and The Watcher by Jeanette Winter.

The video below, in which McDonnell says about Goodall, "She has the mind of a scientist but the heart of a poet," is a good intro to both books. You should buy them for me.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Onion understands Jim Morrison

The Onion article "Jim Morrison Foundation Awards $50,000 Grant To Little Shit Who Thinks He's A Poet" pretty much sums up how I feel about Jim Morrison the "poet."

Poet leads protests over drug cartel violence

After his son was killed, poet Javier Sicilia became a leader in the protest movement against drug cartel violence in Mexico. From the BBC:
For Mr Sicilia, the conflict has reached a level that requires a more comprehensive approach to the issue - one which includes the commitment of all Mexicans.

"We need a national pact because this is an emergency, and we have to rebuild the tissue of this nation - if we do not, we are going to enter hell."

As for his poetry, Mr Sicilia has decided to silence his voice.

His last poem was dedicated to his son, and was written just hours after the violent murder.

"Poetry does not exist in me anymore," it ends.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Chimps on film

Wait, what? I have to wait a year to see this? The countdown begins...

Via Videogum.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Rick Santorum breaks up with Langston Hughes

To be fair, Santorum didn't even know they were together. From the Union Leader:
Santorum by and large stayed on message but was tripped up a bit when a student asked him if he knew that the choice of his slogan, "Fighting to make America America again," was borrowed from the "pro-union poem by the gay poet Langston Hughes."

"No I had nothing to do with that," Santorum said. "I didn't know that. And the folks who worked on that slogan for me didn't inform me that it came from that, if it in fact came from that."

The student, whose name was not immediately available, was referring to the poem "Let America Be America Again." When asked a short time later what the campaign slogan meant to him, Santorum said, "well, I'm not too sure that's my campaign slogan, I think it's on a web site."

It was also printed on the campaign literature handed out before the speech.
Ha. "I think it's on a web site." Moron.

One web site you can find it on is The Academy of American Poets. No doubt lines like these really speak to Santorum: "I am the Negro bearing slavery's scars. / I am the red man driven from the land, / I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek-- / And finding only the same old stupid plan / Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak."

"Let America Be America Again" by Langston Hughes stands against everything Santorum stands for. A commenter on the Union Leader web site said the inclusion of the "gotcha" Hughes question and Santorum's stammering answer was evidence of biased journalism. I disagree. I think it's pretty relevant when an anti-gay, anti-union politician from a party that has no qualms against using racism to their political advantage is using a slogan lifted from a liberal gay poet. I know that Santorum has a Google problem and all, but seriously? No one on his campaign thought to Google the campaign slogan they chose? Dumb.

Via Salon.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Dean Young gets a heart

Well this is definitely the best poetry-related news you'll hear all day all week all year in your life.

Monday, March 21, 2011

"I didn't evolve from you..."

I stumbled upon this clip while searching for old Victoria Jackson skits. Jan Hooks+monkey=awesome.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Sleeping Lisa, will you ever wake up?

Sleeping Lisa, the world's soundest sleeper, has new adventures daily. She's all the rage in photos of sleeping people with their own Tumblr sites.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

"Aunt Madelyn At The White Sale" by Alice Fulton

Again on the hunt for poems for my class and I re-read Alice Fulton's "Aunt Madelyn At The White Sale." Feels like a very fitting poem today since it was the funeral for my grandmother. I've never attended a funeral in the winter before. I've always wondered how they manage. How do they dig out the ground? With machines, I know. Still. Winter resists burial. But then, in the spring it's too wet. In the summer, too hot. There's no good time to die, I guess.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Elizabeth Bishop liked ladies, man

For the record, Elizabeth Bishop was a lesbian. Not sure why William Logan got all cagey about it in a review of a book of Bishop's letters in the New York Times. Also, didn't they just publish a book of Bishop letters? Is every napkin she ever scrawled on eventually going to be published? I'm just saying, people are kind of obsessed with her. She was a fine poet, yes, but I have a hard enough time keeping up with my email let alone sitting down to pour over Bishop's missives.

Oh, and about the lesbian omission thing in the Times. John Aravosis tells us why it matters:
"We're not even able to marry in most of this country, and the few marriages we do have aren't recognized by the federal government, and thus are not granted any of the 1,100 or so federal rights that accrue to married couples. The fact that one of the most famous American poets was lesbian is a big deal."
I guess Logan didn't have a little voice in his head imploring him to "Write it."

Via America Blog Gay.

"Heaven for Helen" by Mark Doty

My Grandma Helen passed away yesterday. Today I was combing through poetry looking for poems for my class to read and came across Mary Doty's "Heaven for Helen." I'd read this before but -- I don't want to say I'd forgotten it, because that's not accurate, exactly. But it seems like a serendipitous reunion to read it today.

Heaven for Helen

Helen says heaven, for her,
would be complete immersion
in physical process,
without self-consciousness—

to be the respiration of the grass,
or ionized agitation
just above the break of a wave,
traffic in a sunflower's thousand golden rooms.

Images of exchange,
and of untrammeled nature.
But if we're to become part of it all,
won't our paradise also involve

participation in being, say,
diesel fuel, the impatience of trucks
on August pavement,
weird glow of service areas

along the interstate at night?
We'll be shiny pink egg cartons,
and the thick treads of burst tires
along the highways in Pennsylvania:

a hell we've made to accompany
the given: we will join
our tiresome productions,
things that want to be useless forever.

But that's me talking. Helen
would take the greatest pleasure
in being a scrap of paper,
if that's what there were to experience.

Perhaps that's why she's a painter,
finally: to practice disappearing
into her scrupulous attention,
an exacting rehearsal for the larger

world of things it won't be easy to love.
Helen I think will master it, though I may not.
She has practiced a long time learning to see
I have devoted myself to affirmation,

when I should have kept my eyes on the ground.

(Mark Doty, from School of the Arts, 2005 HarperCollins.)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

"Dream of Ink Brush Calligraphy" by Karen An-hwei Lee

I'm thinking this might be a good poem to get my students talking about form and its relationship to meaning.

"Dream of Ink Brush Calligraphy" by Karen An-hwei Lee from the Nov. 2010 issue of Poetry Magazine.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Poetry doth not protest too much

From the New York Times:
"Egypt’s revolution is a contest of ultimatums — chaos and revolution, freedom and submission — but its arena of Tahrir Square becomes quieter at night, the cacophony of rebellion giving way to a stage of poetry, performance and politics."
A good argument, I think, for poetry's continuing relevance.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Monday, January 10, 2011

Loughner poetry connection

So Jared Loughner, the guy who attempted to assassinate Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, took a community college "advanced poetry writing class." Will the media soon be dissecting his poems like they did the writings of the Virginia Tech killer? After all, we're already "reading into" Loughner's favorite books. Mention of his poetry, though not flattering ones, are being reported as news.
"Several people who knew Loughner at community college said he did not seem especially political, but was socially awkward. He laughed at the wrong things, made inappropriate comments. Most students sat away from him in class.

'He made a lot of the people really uncomfortable, especially the girls in the class,' said Steven Cates, who attended an advanced poetry writing class with Loughner at Pima Community College last spring. Though he struck up a superficial friendship with Loughner, he said a group of other students went to the teacher to complain about Loughner at one point.

Another poetry student, Don Coorough, said Loughner read a 'kind of a bland' poem about going to the gym in wild "poetry slam" style — 'grabbing his crotch and jumping around the room.'

When other students read their poems, meanwhile, Coorough said Loughner 'would laugh at things that you wouldn't laugh at.' After one woman read a poem about abortion, 'he was turning all shades of red and laughing,' and said, 'Wow, she's just like a terrorist, she killed a baby,' Coorough said.

'He appeared to be to me an emotional cripple or an emotional child,' Coorough said. 'He lacked compassion, he lacked understanding and he lacked an ability to connect."

Friday, January 7, 2011

Outshined by a dark cloud

Yeah. I think having Anne Sexton as a mom would mess anyone up. Her daughter Linda already chronicled her childhood in Searching for Mercy Street. Now she's published Half in Love: Surviving the Legacy of Suicide, about her grown-up life. And it's a sad one. From the New York Times review we learn that she gets super depressed. She tries to kill herself at least twice. Her husband leaves her. Nobody will publish her novel.

I don't plan to read the book. The Times review was enough for me. It ends by comparing Linda to her mom. The verdict: Linda's not as sad and she's not as good. Ouch. Read it for yourself:
"Even when she was sickest, Anne Sexton managed to create a vibrant world around herself, never losing her status as a figure to be reckoned with. But Linda Sexton seems utterly marooned when her modest dream of 'normal' family life evaporates and her writing career stalls. When she recovers, the scene expands only to include the men she meets through an online dating Web site. There is a surprising blandness to her sensibility, and her cause isn’t helped by overwrought language ('I was once again left shivering in the draft of everyone’s disapproval, dancing like a marionette in rhythm to the old black tune that had haunted my life ever since my mother first kicked me out of the house when I was 2') and hackneyed therapy-speak ('My continuing therapy with Barbara Ballinger had developed into the strong support I needed as I worked to examine the feelings I had about my mother’s suicide and to tear them apart').

But this book looks into the workings of the suicidal mind in a way that isn’t easily forgotten, raising provocative questions about how we approach and treat the severely mentally ill. Sexton paints suicide as a deadly disease mechanism: only the care of other people can save its victims, but those victims become experts at driving other people away."

Saturday, January 1, 2011

"Near-misses" by Laura Kasischke

I just happened upon Laura Kasischke's poem "Near-misses" from the Spring 2010 issue of Willow Springs and it's quite a fitting poem to kick off the year.

Laura talks a little about the poem on the Willow Springs site. Read it. But read the poem first. And then remember that you're lucky to be alive. "Fork + Toaster + One Second Longer = None of This" forever.

Breathe in the books

May 2011 be filled with the smell of books.

By the way, I am an avid book-smeller myself. Granted, I prefer the smell of new books, but still.

Via Book Fox, a blog I stumbled upon last night. Book nerds, rejoice.