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So I asked my youngest son, What makes a poem a poem? April 30, 2012: And here is what he said: I love his answer, even though I don't agree with all of it. I love his confidence that all poems tell stories, that poems have "tricky words," that poems are "fast and interesting." My favorite part is when he says, "You can't really know that question" even though I know I'll continue to try to "know these [...] by

When the Source of Poetry is not Poetry (4 of 4) April 17, 2012: Non-poetry sources round up: For my first book, I worked a lot off of Erich Auerbach's Mimesis. Using some of his vocabulary, some of his themes. Overall, the book was heavily influenced by my feminism; not so much intellectual/bookish, but just what it felt like to be a woman, how the culture treated women. For the second book, The Heaven-Sent [...] by

When the Source of Poetry is not Poetry (3 of 4) April 17, 2012: Non-poetry sources round up: Nick Cave: Not his lyrics especially, nor his compositions particularly. It's his manner, his privileging affect over all else - lust, murderous rage, bitterness, disgust. A poem without affect is like a person without affect - interesting to study but I wouldn't want to take it to bed with me. Modern Dance: I [...] by

When the Source of Poetry is Not Poetry (2 of 4) April 17, 2012: Non-poetry sources round up: Since May 2009, I have experimented with using the stock market as a "source" for my poems. At the time, I was trying to write in response to the financial crisis, the perpetual crisis. Journalists and politicians routinely refer to the stock market as one of the main indicators of our economic health. And yet it [...] by

When the Source of Poetry is not Poetry (1 of 4) April 17, 2012: I'm interested in the edge between poetry and prose, between poetry and everything that is not-poetry. I love poetry but often all I want to do is read not-poetry and often my poems come from not-poetry (sometimes not-book) sources. I like sci-fi and fantasy (especially since having three sons), and my husband has read me all the George RR [...] by

What Kind of Poetry Do You Write (2 of 2) April 12, 2012: I write what might best be described as new vintage poetry. Despite my love affair with the renaissance and the late victorians, I am still a modern gal who likes her iPhone, linen trousers, Fluevogs (when I can afford them), hip hop, and birth control. I text. Alas is always ironic. I recently bought a new vintage dress at a shop called Avenue P [...] by

What Kind of Poetry Do You Write? (1 of 2) April 12, 2012: "I think it’s important for poets to occasionally try to articulate 'what kind' of poetry they write," I wrote in a recent Harriet post, but, like most writers, I hate having to publicly answer this oft-asked question. I asked a bunch of writers how they answer this question. If you too have trouble with this question, maybe you can find your [...] by

How to Win at Guess My Poet and other IMPORTANT POETRY OBSERVATIONS April 9, 2012: 1. Gauge your difficulty level & know your audience. When playing “Guess My Superhero” with my youngest son I’ve learned (the hard way) to ask early on, “Have I ever heard of this superhero before?” It’s not fun to play “Guess My__” if the person guessing has absolutely no chance. It’s also not fun if the only thing you [...] by

GUESS MY POET: Starting to Talk about Characteristic-ness April 6, 2012: I’ve been married for almost 15 years. That makes it easy difficult for my husband to find ways to make me happy. One of his recent strategies is “Guess My Poet.” “Guess My Poet” is a version of “Guess My Superhero,” a game we’ve been playing with our kids for years—at dinner, in airports, waiting in line, riding on every [...] by

Don’t Read This Post (Confessions of a Failed Blogger) April 4, 2012: I love the idea of blogging for Hariet. I love having an audience. I appreciate getting a little money (I’d appreciate more more if you were wondering, PF), and I am the kind of writer who almost always says yes to invitations. I think it’s good for poets to have to write prose and good for writers to have to write on assignment from time to [...] by