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Life Studies by Robert Lowell revisited April 30, 2010: I have known for years that Life Studies is one of Robert Lowell's most important books and a classic of confessional poetry, but I had never actually sat down and read it from cover to cover. That's one benefit of teaching: it forces me to sit and read books closely. Life Studies is a fascinating book, for a number of reasons: 1. We see Lowell [...] by

Stacy Gnall April 26, 2010: A relatively recent undergrad of mine at Sarah Lawrence, Stacy Gnall just had her first book, Heart First Into The Forest, accepted for publication by Alice James Books. Even as a sophomore in college, Gnall impressed me with her razor-sharp diction and imagery that tingled my senses. Her poems are wild, precise, explosive, grounded, surprising, [...] by

By The Time I Get To Arizona April 24, 2010: Reading today's New York Times: Arizona Enacts Stringent Law On Immigration, sent a chill up my spine. It wasn't the proverbial chill. This chill was colder and darker. I know the question of how to deal with all the undocumented people living and working (or looking for work) in the United States is a complicated issue, one that doesn't have [...] by

a few words about The Lost Pilot by James Tate April 19, 2010: About 6 months ago, on Facebook, I was looking for ways to engage my nearly 1000 friends (many of whom I  had never met). One day I posted a provocative question as my status update to see what kind of response I would get: "Jeffrey McDaniel wonders if you consider the poem The Lost Pilot by James Tate to be confessional or not." I received [...] by

Sarah Lawrence Poetry Festival this weekend April 16, 2010: The 7th annual Sarah Lawrence College Poetry Festival, a smorgasbord of verse sure to stuff your senses with well-pruned perceptions, is happening all weekend in Bronxville NY. Friday night’s fusion-cuisine features National Slam champ Anis Mogjani, (who makes his living barding from town to town) and the elegantly imaginative Matthea Harvey, [...] by

Gossip from AWP April 15, 2010: Mina Loy and Vladimir Mayakovsky were making out in the lobby. Marianne Moore wondered how she end up at the off-site Flarf event. Anne Sexton wore kerosene sandals and set the dance floor on fire. Robert Frost sneered under his breath towards Frank O’Hara, “there’s a man who has never worked a rake and has no business writing poems [...] by

Cindy Goff’s Appalachian Flood April 12, 2010: Recently a friend of mine from graduate school, Cindy Goff, a self-described Appalachian surrealist, self-published a volume of poems, Appalachian Flood, and is selling it on Amazon. Back in grad school, (we attended George Mason University in the early 90's), Cindy and I used to do a variety of surrealist-inspired writing exercises. We had both [...] by

Humor and Poetry April 8, 2010: I am slated to be on a panel on humor and poetry at AWP later this week. So the first question is: do I accept this premise on a personal level, is there humor in my poetry? The second question is: if so, how did that happen? I began using humor (teasing, mocking, obnoxious situational remarks in class etc.) around the age of 9, as a way to get [...] by

Jim Harrison’s Letters To Yesenin April 5, 2010: I'm teaching an ambitious, one-semester poetry workshop entitled The (So-Called) Confessional Poets. We're about halfway through the syllabus. For this week, we're reading Jim Harrison's Letter To Yesenin, (originally published in 1973 by Sumac Press, and re-published by Copper Canyon in 2007). The book is a series of 30 letter-poems to the [...] by

Good-bye Harriet June 30, 2007: So I am leaving Harriet today. My fourth book of poems, The Endarkenment, was recently accepted for publication (by University of Pittsburgh Press), and I want to focus on revising the manuscript, and also developing some prose ideas. It has been interesting to be a part of Harriet from the beginning and a pleasure interacting with the four [...] by