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That's what we're getting down to, folks. Not tin tacks, not copper tacks; not a tie tack or the wrong tack to take. Shiny, pointy, brassy tacks with slightly convex heads, such as you might find in a tack factory, or hammered into the arms of your leather sofa. Because it is Friday afternoon, here in the EST, and there is no longer anything preventing us or prohibiting us from beholding and begrabbing these brass tacks in front of us, no more alluvial layers to dig through in our quest to get down to them. (Also to get down to... Continue reading
Posted Nov 19, 2010 at The Best American Poetry
In the ongoing battle to see which school of poetry can greater damage the reputation of the truly BEST American Poets -- the ones who, you know, actually read and write poems instead of watching poems, thinking them up and then performing them -- I ask you to consider these two contenders: Flarf and Slam. Flarf, a poetic form born in the digital age, originally relied heavily on Google searches of random phrases to provide the raw materials for poems. The tension between the computer generated text and the poet's human point of view results in a mishmash of half-formed... Continue reading
Posted Nov 18, 2010 at The Best American Poetry
In 1993, the Guinness Book of World Records declared the word "mamihlapinatapai" to be the world's most succinct word. I heard this and thought, "Seven syllables isn't exactly succinct," but then I learned its meaning: "A look shared by two people with each wishing that the other will initiate something that they both desire but which neither one wants to start." Like a kiss, or a game of rock-paper-scissors. What a beautiful way to say it, as opposed to how it sounds in English: "And then we were both, like, uhhhh..."* The word mamihlapinatapai is Yaghan, an indigenous language from... Continue reading
Posted Nov 17, 2010 at The Best American Poetry
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I wanted to share a poetry exercise I like to do with students who are intimidated by the idea of writing poetry, in case it might be useful to you, reader dear. Because it consists of writing fragments and then tumbling them together, and because it's like looking at your life through a bunch of tiny mirrors, I call is the Kaleidoscope. The instructions are as follows: 1. Get your notebook, or open a new document. (You'd think this would be evident, but I've seen people try to do this in their head.) 2. Write down the top five things... Continue reading
Posted Nov 16, 2010 at The Best American Poetry
I judged a poetry slam on Friday night. It's been about eighteen years since I was a little baby slammer, all of 23 years old, waving my righteous little fist around on the stage of the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, hoping that MTV would put me on the air (they did) and make me into a famous poet (they didn't). And in that eighteen years, I've seen my share of slams, and often enjoyed them, though the formula's getting a little stale. But it's been a while since I put on my judging shoes (sneakers, in case I have to run... Continue reading
Posted Nov 15, 2010 at The Best American Poetry
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Mar 15, 2010