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Pompeii and Circumstance September 20, 2008: OK, who saw the letter to the editor in the October issue of Harper's about Charles Bernstein's poem, "Pompeii?" And who gets to put the iron in irony? Harper's reader Richard Schlesinger, seeing the poem - which was first published in Poetry - objects: "How mediocre does the prosaic imitator sound, when set beside his betters [...], how banal [...] by

What Are Years. September 5, 2008: Marianne Moore once explained that she did not put a question mark after the title of her poem "What Are Years?" - though it kept being printed with one. It's not a question at all, she explained: "It's a meditation: 'What Are Years. What Are Years.' You're not thinking about it, not asking anyone to come and answer you." Really, Miss [...] by

The Name Game September 2, 2008: As an adjunct to my Kneejerk Poetry list (and just in time for back to school shopping) I'm now assembling a list of names and phrases that are sure to generate controversy instantly. This list has been empirically tested, and is 100% guaranteed to work as advertised; no batteries required! It's all open source, so please add your own! [...] by

Kneejerk poetics August 25, 2008: There are certain notions about poetry that must apparently always automatically spring to mind. I've decided to start a list of them here. (Please feel free to add your own - I've begun with a list of seven - or to discuss the phenomenon of wrenching certain phrases out of their original contexts and reifying them.) Poetry is what gets lost [...] by

Top ten things you may not have known about G.M. Hopkins August 21, 2008: 1.) His nickname as a teenager at school was “Skin.” 1.a.) He was home schooled until he was about ten, and then almost got expelled from the school he eventually attended. 2.) The Hopkins family motto was Esse quan videri – “To be rather than to seem.” 3.) By the time Hopkins had begun writing poems seriously, the best [...] by

What do you mean teaching poetry writing and wasting your time painting sober little organic, meaningful pictures? August 15, 2008:         I was released from forms, from the perpendiculars,   straight lines, blocks, boxes, binds of thought into the hues, shadings, rises, flowing bends and blends     of sight:       I allow myself eddies of meaning: yield to a direction of significance running like a stream through the [...] by

Meditations in an Emergency August 12, 2008: I know it's been blogged all over the place, but meditate on this, all who debate about expanding the audience for poetry: year-to-date sales of Frank O'Hara's Meditations in an Emergency have increased 218%, mostly due to the book's appearance on the AMC TV show Mad Men, in which (m)ad man Don Draper buys what we now know is one of the last [...] by

Mahmoud Darwish has died August 9, 2008: According to a great many media reports, there is news that Mahmoud Darwish has died. His work graced the pages of Poetry back in December 2005; Harriet readers may recall Daisy Fried's recent Harriet post, "Questions for Fady Joudah", in which Joudah talks about his work. by

Either/Or(r) July 31, 2008: I'm a little surprised that the exhumation in the New York Times back in May of a pair of poems written by Barack Obama hasn't excited more twittering in the blog-po-sphere. Here they are... POP Sitting in his seat, a seat broad and broken In, sprinkled with ashes Pop switches channels, takes another Shot of Seagrams, neat, and asks What to do [...] by

The Aspern Papers… Spicer’s, Schwartz’s, Kafka’s – and yours? July 14, 2008: "After Jack Spicer's untimely death at the age of forty in 1965, the contents of his apartment were packed into boxes..." Dunno about you, but I know what would happen to the contents of my place, should it all end up in boxes! Just think how much we owe to the removal and serendipitous rediscovery of what used, not very charmingly, to be [...] by