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My Poetry Picks for 2013 December 4, 2013: Practically every poem in my copy is full of underlinings: Natalie Shapero’s No Object (Saturnalia, 2013). Contains some of the most exhilarating poetry I saw all year: Amanda Smeltz’s Imperial Bender (Typecast Publishing, 2013). Has a poem in it I have every intention of memorizing: Shanna Compton’s Brink (Bloof, 2013). One of [...] by

The Discriminating Reeve April 29, 2013: I’ll close with one choice item from my stash of non-poetry poetry. A block of medieval prose I find exquisitely moving. You have to read it outloud, though. I found it in a paperback called Anglo-Saxon Prose, a collection of interesting specimens selected and translated by Michael Swanton (Everyman, 1993). Swanton calls the piece “The [...] by

Rhyme April 25, 2013: 1. I trust everyone in my generation (Nixon, Ford, and Carter Administrations) will recognize these lyrics: Jenny, Jenny, | who can I turn to You give me something | I can hold onto I know you think I’m like | the others before Who saw your name and number | on the wall Note the rhymes. The uninitiated will immediately smile, [...] by

Miscellany (II) April 24, 2013: Two kinds of readings: a kind I call a “bento box” reading, and a kind I call “teaching a good class.” In a BENTO BOX READING, each member of the audience is compartmentalized. The atmosphere is “quiet and respectful.” After the reading, somebody (maybe several people) might come forward and Gush All Up Your Face about how great [...] by

Basho and His Interpreters April 23, 2013: Beautiful book, if you can get a hold of a copy: Basho and His Interpreters (Makoto Ueda, Stanford University Press, 1992). Listen to how it works: • Top of each page, a chaste translation, in three lines, of a Basho haiku. • Underneath: the Japanese original transliterated into Roman letters + a word-for-word translation. • [...] by

Miscellany April 18, 2013: [caption id="attachment_65234" align="alignright" width="500"] James Boswell[/caption] The problem with Koch’s books about teaching children to write poetry is that his method does not teach them to be poets. It teaches them to make what will look like poems to us—but like diddling around to them. • There should be a magazine called [...] by

Recite April 16, 2013: I remember a thousand years ago when I was at Columbia I memorized the last forty or fifty lines of “Lycidas”—the part of the poem I had always wept over. Nowadays I am always willing to memorize that which makes me weep, but at the time it was a new thing. I was thirty. I recited it one time to a friend—tears in my eyes—both of [...] by

Socrates April 11, 2013: I remember one time giving a beginner a copy of a literary magazine, wanting her to savor a particular sequence of poems that was included in it. She made the mistake of surveying the magazine more generally. When we next sat down together, she said, with her face curdled in disgust, “I, ah, looked at some of the other poems in [...] by

Feckless Line Breaks April 5, 2013: Have you ever tried to teach somebody how commas work? It’s a nightmare. You learn fast enough: You can’t go preaching that simple thing your own teachers told you in third grade. ’Cuz that thing is a lie. Commas are not pauses. If they were pauses you could put them anywhere. Dot dot dot can be a pause; commas are something else. Commas [...] by

Yeats On YouTube April 3, 2013: I was memorizing Yeats’s “Easter 1916,” a poem that has a powerful spell on me, despite my not giving a fook about Yeats or Ireland. There is a part in the beginning of the piece that was giving me some trouble. Here’s how the poem starts (I transcribe from memory): I have met them at close of day Coming with vivid faces From [...] by