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Bright Red Words April 30, 2013: [caption id="attachment_66022" align="alignright" width="500"] Louise Bourgeois, I HAD A FLASHBACK OF SOMETHING THAT NEVER EXISTED, 2002, Photo: Christopher Burke, © Louise Bourgeois Trust/VAGA, NY[/caption] Most poets I believe love words as objects in themselves. They seem delicious to me, as if I could just pluck one from an overhanging [...] by

The Poetry of Our Youth April 25, 2013: Why can’t I hear the music of my youth with objectivity? I really don’t know if The Unforgettable Fire is a great album or not because I loved U2 so ardently in high school that the profound and sticky wistfulness of unfulfilled teenage desire roars back to life at each listening. Of course, many songs I still like from that time I know [...] by

On Ornamentation April 23, 2013: At any time, in any corner, in my house, you can find a menagerie my daughter has set up: a congregation of fairies, Playmobil people, stuffed animals, thingies. Her scooter is decorated with ribbons, strings, and jewelry, even my favorite studded belt. She produces clutter in quantities, and every time it encroaches upon the tenuous organization [...] by

This Lower World April 19, 2013: [caption id="attachment_65443" align="alignright" width="500"] Book XII of William Blake’s 1808 Paradise Lost.[/caption] This week I’ve been thinking about the moment in Book XI of Paradise Lost when Milton’s Eve laments to Adam, when the angel Michael has arrived to dispossess them of Paradise: How shall I part and wither wander [...] by

Why Write Sestinas? April 16, 2013: Oh yes, why write sestinas? I like the difficulty of the form: six stanzas with six end-words that have to repeat in a particular rotating pattern (twice in the three-line envoi at the end) like playing ping-pong with six balls and six other players. Sestinas are tricky.  The repetition of the end-words gives you a chance to mull over [...] by

Writing Poetry about Art April 12, 2013: I’m a member of the tribe who likes to write poetry about art. The first moment of ekphrastic poetry we have comes from Homer when he halts the battle action in The Illiad to describe the stunning Shield of Achilles. The most well-known ekphrastic poem is of course Keats’s “Ode on a Grecian Urn,” in which he uses the fabulously-named term, [...] by

On Depression, Poets, & Candy April 10, 2013: In high school a friend of mine, who was suffering through the relentlessly miserable alienation of a suburban public education, was diagnosed with “Emotional Disorder.” Emotional Disorder! She is, no surprise, a poet and artist. Don’t all poets suffer from Emotional Disorder? Paisley Rekdal so wittily describes the difficulties of [...] by

Why I Am Not a Nature Poet April 4, 2013: [caption id="attachment_64133" align="alignright" width="500"] Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth Bennet.[/caption] A few years ago I left Brooklyn, my home for almost fifteen years, and moved to the country in upstate New York. Accustomed to a small apartment and to being pressed up against by people and buildings, I was astonished to be the sudden [...] by

Bothered by Beauty April 1, 2013: One of the poems I like to return to is John Ashbery’s “And Ut Pictura Poesis Is Her Name” from Houseboat Days (one of my favorite book titles). He begins: You can’t say it that way any more. Bothered about beauty you have to Come out into the open, into a clearing, And rest. Often bothered by beauty, I was recently rereading [...] by