Foundation News

The Poetry Foundation's most-read articles of 2011

By Harriet Staff

10. "Haiku Economics" by Stephen T. Ziliak

I’m an economist. Yet poetry is my first stop on the way to invention—discovery of metaphors. No matter the audience, a model is a metaphor. Not every economist understands that. Poetry can fill the gap between reason and emotion, adding feelings to economics.

9. "In Praise of Promiscuous Thinking" by Joel Brouwer

I understand the impulse to talk about poems. Poems are objects in the world. They appear on bus kiosks, in magazines, on makeshift stages in coffee shops, at weddings, in classrooms. They exist, like raccoons. We see or hear them. It’s natural to want to talk about our impressions of them, and what they’re up to. “This poem is confusing me.” “That’s one big damn raccoon.”

8. "When You're Strange" by Daniel Nester

There are two kinds of people in this world: those who think the Doors are a hokey caricature of male rock stardom and those who think they’re, you know, shamans.

7. "Pimp My Poem" by Kathleen Rooney

If you attend one of the Chicago Poetry Brothel’s monthly events, you will be greeted at the door of the House of Blues’ Foundation Room by a mysterious man in a mustache and top hat known only as the Good Doctor. He will take your $10 cover if you are not in period garb, or your five bucks if you are clad as a proper Victorian.

6. "Odd Futurism" by Bethlehem Shoals

Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All (OFWGKTA, for short) probably wouldn’t describe themselves as poetry. The hip-hop wing of a Los Angeles–based teenage music/art/skateboarding collective, OFWGKTA raps gleefully about murder, rape, mutilation, necrophilia, and, in its more lucid moments, self-doubt and general disrepair.

5. "Poems From My Ex" by Lisa Catherine Harper

Fifteen years after we broke up, my ex-boyfriend published a book of poetry.

4. "I Thought You Were a Poet" by Joshua Mehigan

Samuel Johnson, in his life of Dryden, reports that throughout the spring of 1686 the fifty-six-year-old laureate could often be seen strolling Leicester Field at daybreak, barefoot, in his nightclothes, skimming dew from leaves into a glass beaker. Dryden apparently ignored anyone who addressed him during these excursions. The beaker full, he would disappear into 44 Gerrard Street to work, in the same nightclothes, on The Hind and the Panther. No one is sure what Dryden did with the dew.

3. "James Franco Talks Poetry" by Travis Nichols

Crane wanted his poetry to be difficult. He wanted it to be read in a different way than people normally read. So when I started developing the movie, I thought, yes, it will be a biopic of sorts, but I wanted to have the texture of his poetry.

2. "Writing Like a White Guy" by Jaswinder Bolina

My father says I should use a pseudonym. “They won’t publish you if they see your name. They’ll know you’re not one of them. They’ll know you’re one of us.”

1. "The Bell Jar at 40" by Emily Gould

In March 1970, the poet Ted Hughes found himself in a tricky real estate situation. There was a charming seaside house he wanted to buy, in Devonshire, but the necessary funds weren’t at hand. Of course he could have sold one of his two other homes, but one was the home he had shared with his now deceased ex-wife Sylvia Plath, another was a solid investment, and so on. In the end, he wrote to Sylvia Plath’s mother, Aurelia, asking for her blessing to sell one of his other assets: her daughter’s first and only novel, written a year before her suicide in 1963, for which Hughes suspected there might now be a market in the United States.

Originally Published: December 19th, 2011