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ON TIMELESSNESS April 6, 2011: The business of trying to write timeless poems reminds me of Langston Hughes’ declaration in a 1926 essay that a black poet who wants to be just a poet, not a black poet really wants to be white. Hughes makes the issue about the poet, and maybe unfairly distracts us by that gambit. But the really question has to do with the poem. That is what [...] by

THE PLEASURES OF EXILE April 5, 2011: Alan Gilbert’s question about exile is an interesting one. His seems more interested here in the idea of an exile in one’s own land. And this is interesting, of course. Yet conversations I have had with college students on three Ohio private liberal arts colleges over the last three days have made me think even more about how our [...] by

WHY I NO LONGER NEED TO LEARN MY POEMS BY HEART April 4, 2011: Now it is true that not all poets who recite their poems by heart are performance poets. But they both pose the same problem for me. I admire them. I especially admire those who remember those really long poems that they have written. They go on and on, and I have to say that part of why I applaud so loudly is because I am so impressed that they [...] by

ON INSPIRATION, PRACTICE AND BLOCKS April 3, 2011: It used to be that when folks asked me if I write poetry everyday, I would say, “yes.”  Used to be.  It was good to say “yes”, because I think it is a good habit to try to write poetry everyday. It used to be that when folks would ask me how I dealt with writer’s block, I would say, “Writer’s block?  It does not exist.  It is [...] by

Suffering and Form April 30, 2010: Form is a product of routine, a reflection of rituals of existence, the hallmark of which is dependability, predictability, and the familiar.  Surprises, uncertainty, chaos and upheaval only produce the staid reliability of form when people are in search of the nostalgia of form.  This is why form is often old-fashioned.  It is old in the way [...] by

“Poets Change the World” April 28, 2010: I had great plans for these posts, I confess. I was going to do what so many people are doing, which is to do these "shout outs" these reviews of really new and interesting work. I even went as far as to solicit help from folks I knew asking them to tell me some of the poets they really admire and why they should be featured. I was going to [...] by

Back to Empathy April 21, 2010: Sometimes, I get asked questions that allow me to think about what I am doing.  Today I received an email from a young woman at Harvard (this is all I know about her), with the following question.  Her name is Miriam Rutzen, and this is what I wrote in response to her very honest and insightful question. In working with and representing the [...] by

Give me a Million Bucks, Please! April 19, 2010: I am a busy person. I feel busy sometimes.  But I am busy.  But most of the strain of my busyness comes from two quite different sources.  I busy myself trying to be busy while trying to have a normal life with family, church, and television watching.  My solutions work most of the time: I take short trips even when I am going half way across [...] by

The Church of Poetry April 14, 2010: "Do something in a poem that makes you wake up in the night and blush." Lavinia Greenlaw Now there is a challenge.  Bushing is so hard for me.  I can't tell when last I blushed.  But then sometimes for me it is hard to tell.  But I do blush.  At least I think I do.  I have blushed before.  It started in my armpits and it came on me like [...] by

Sometimes it is Just Boring April 13, 2010: Here is, I think, what might be a hard truth:  Some people are more interesting than other people.  I think poets understand this.    It is why we extol the value of craft.  We propose that the genius of a great poet is to turn the ordinary (meaning the dull, mundane and frankly uninteresting) into something quite interesting through the [...] by