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Everything Lives, Everything Dances, Everything Sings April 28, 2010: For all my bravado elsewhere about being open about being a mother and a poet, I do get leery of doing too much kiddie-mentioning. I think about Maisie plenty and am not ashamed to, and like to, and will happily buttonhole you at a party and recite her three-year-old poems (genius, surely!) to you until you beg for mercy or throw a drink in my [...] by

Arcs and Arcoholics April 26, 2010:                                                        a good arc In a recent (positive) review, I noted that the book in question didn’t have much of an arc. Another poet-critic called me out on that in the comments stream of the online version of the review, asking why books of poems [...] by

Mom and Supermom April 23, 2010:   In the Don Juan in Hell section of Shaw’s Man and Superman, The Statue, Don Gonzalo, explains why he has chosen to come to Hell instead of staying in Heaven. At classical concerts in England, he says, “you find rows of weary people who are there, not because they really like classical music, but because they think they ought to like [...] by

Just the Crisis April 22, 2010:   That “why don’t you write novels” question Camille Dungy refers to is one I get all the time. Once, I was reading my poem “Aunt Leah, Aunt Sophie and the Negro Painter” which is about, oh, you know, Black-Jewish relations, Socialism v. Communism, secularized v. religious Jews, Paul Robeson, conservatism, late Cubism, Ariel [...] by

Why Does the Poem Work?: Rachel Loden’s “What the Gravedigger Needs” April 19, 2010: Joel Brouwer blogged about Rachel Loden’s Dick of the Dead last year here; it's been a pleasure to see this political, strange and strangely charming book get some attention, including here and here.  The Dick of the title is of course Richard Nixon; Ron Silliman says “Loden works with Nixon the way Shakespeare worked with Lear, mining him [...] by

The Malfunction Malfunctions Malfunctioned April 14, 2010: Lavinia Greenlaw’s delightful Booth of Truth post about her visit to an amusement pier and Rachel Zucker’s mention of her & Arielle Greenberg’s Starting Today: 100 Poems for Obama's First 100 Days (which I’m glad to know has been published) came strangely together to remind me of a poem I tried to write over a year ago that refused [...] by

Today’s Imperative: John McAuliffe April 12, 2010: I’ve had the pleasure this spring of having as a colleague the Irish poet John McAuliffe. He’s occupying a visiting chair of Irish Studies at Villanova University, where I’m currently teaching. The fact that I didn’t know McAuliffe’s poetry before doesn’t mean other Americans also don’t know it. As August Kleinzahler says on the [...] by

Billboard Koan, Shitty Namaste April 5, 2010: The Ben Franklin Bridge connects Philadelphia and Camden NJ, where both wine and gas are cheaper. The first thing you see from the bridge’s eastbound downside (as they say in traffic reports—my current unstartable poem is called “Eastbound Downside”) is the big red-and-blackgray billboard advertising Droid, Verizon’s new iPhone-type [...] by

Don’t Wax the Poem April 1, 2010: Maybe all poets are nerds or they wouldn’t be poets. But not all poets write nerdy. Some are suave, which can be a good thing. Some are elegant in an elegant way. Nerds can be elegant in a backwards way, by retaining their bumps and inelegances, bumptious idiosyncrasies, a being-in-life at least as much as in-literature. There’s plenty to [...] by

Fish’s Night Song March 24, 2009: Here’s Christian Morgenstern’s (1871-1914) “Fisches Nachtgesang,” or, “Fish’s Night Song.” It’s one more example of American parochialism that nowhere in Bartlett’s Quotations is a line of this poem reproduced. by