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The Best American Poetry
Welcome to The Best American Poetry blog. We launched this blog in January, 2008, to create a place where we and friends can exchange, discuss, and argue about poems and poetry. We soon discovered that it would be even more fun to post about anything that fuels our passions, be it movies or sex or baseball or ballet or cocktails or finance or music, because these are, after all, the same subjects that generate poems. Then we flung the doors open and invited others to join in. And we decided that contributors to the blog need not be poets as long as they share a love of good writing and poetry. The only things we ask our regular and guest bloggers to avoid are personal attacks. You'll find enough of that stuff elsewhere. We celebrate freedom of expression. The opinionS of our contributors are their own and not necessarily those of the blog's editorial team or of other contributors. We welcome comments as long as they keep within the bounds of civil discourse. Our roster of correspondents is always changing. We are large! We contain multitudes! Please visit often.Our roster of correspondents is always changing. We are large! We contain multitudes! Please visit often.
Interests: music, food, finance, cocktails, movies, baseball, sex, poetry, mad men.
Recent Activity
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Dearest Amy, Others have probably observed that Don Draper’s “born again” moment – the moment when he took on the identity of a deceased officer in a Korean War battle – is an identical repetition of what shirtless Bill Holden has done in the POW camp in The Bridge on the River Kwai. But though poor Bill comes to an unhappy end in that remarkable movie, it is not what I foresee for Don when Mad Men reaches April 1970, Nixon moves against Cambodia, and four Kent State students die at the hands of the National Guard. Unlike the literalists who believe that the falling-man motif in the opening credits must control what happens at the very end, I feel that the aptest concluding sequence would have Don alone at the bar of a cocktail lounge, approached by a woman (or that woman’s friend) – with the implication that nothing is terminal. . . that Don will continue to be Don, a true Don though not in the Corleone sense. . . and that “some things that happen for the first time / [will] seem to be happening again. . .” Don’t go all moral on us, Matt Weiner. We did not identify ourselves with Don Draper because we disapprove of him (though we may well disapprove of a lot of the things he does). It surprises me that Megan is so bitter. And that her mother would clean out Don of his furniture. And that Don, headstrong though he is, would go all-in on Diana, the waitress from Racine, Wisconsin. It doesn't surprise me that, thanks to Marie Calvait, Don's apartment is devoid of furniture, and he stands in it, disconcerted, surrounded by emptiness. It doesn’t surprise me that media maven Harry Crane should so sleazily and brazenly hit on Megan when lunching with her ostensibly to discuss her agent and her career . . .although I am surprised that Harry, whose fashion taste has always been erratic at best, is wearing a nice suit and tie when entering Don’s office. Don’s navy suit and tie are, to be sure, three times nicer. It doesn’t surprise me, but it disappoints me, that Harry covers his ass so shamelessly in Don’s office, telling him that Megan is “unstable” and will say “crazy things.” It surprises me that Don writes out a million dollar check to give to Megan while their divorce attorneys behave like attorneys and prolong the negotiations. “Nothing about you is real,” she tells Don and gives him back the engagement ring that came from Don Draper’s real wife and widow. “You’re nothing but a liar – an aging, sloppy, selfish liar,” Megan says. Well, OK, but she deserves better lines. . . and the point about Don has been made and need not be emphasized at such moments. It surprised me that art director Stan’s girlfriend Elaine is so loving and so adventurous, willing to pose in the nude for his photographic portfolio.He turns out to be... Continue reading
Posted yesterday at The Best American Poetry
We hear from Martin Stannard, editor of Joe Soap's Canoe, that issues of the English print magazine that delighted pre-Inernet readers, are newly available on line. These issues contain interviews with New York School poets conducted by Mark Hillringhouse: issue 12: Kenneth Koch issue 13: John Ashbery issue 14: James Schuyler issue 15: Ted Berrigan issue 16: Paul Violi You can find these and other issues of the magazine by clicking here: http://martinstannard.com/jsc/jschome.html or here http://martinstannard.com/jsc/jsccanoes.html -- DL Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at The Best American Poetry
The most interesting person in the room is either Denise Duhamel or Amy Gerstler and here they are, interviewed by "Stay Thirsty" magazine. . .A couple of brief excerpts follow. ABRIANA JETTÉ: If you had to pick a moment from your career to best pinpoint the switch from emerging poet to prominent poet, when would it be? DENISE DUHAMEL: It is hard even now to realize I am even a prominent poet. Like most poets, I just go about my life and no one—not my neighbors, not the people at the grocery store, not my family members, not my doctor or dentist—ever mentions my poems to me or I to them. But I do remember an AWP at which I had a long line of people waiting to sign books. (That had been after years of having no one in my line.) At that same AWP, a grad student from somewhere in the Midwest kept following me around and telling me how great she thought I was. Then she sat right behind me during a reading and threw up! Her vomit splattered on me. (I realized she'd been drunk and maybe not the best judge of anything literary.) But somehow I knew I was no longer emerging. **** ABRIANA JETTÉ: What was it like to adopt the voice of a father and of a clairvoyant? Are they original voices or do you consider them to be characters in a narrative? AMY GERSTLER: One of the things about reading literature that is such a miracle is that it allows you to briefly inhabit other minds, and/or commune with them, learn from them, take them on, know them intimately. I had wanted to be an actress for a while when I was younger, partly because I was entranced by the idea of "playing" someone else, that kind of transformation, trying to become a character different from yourself, to really work at that over time. My interest in writing dramatic monologues or persona pieces like the ones you mentioned stems partly from that early interest in trying to get inside another character/being to see what that would be like. If I understand the second part of your question: I don't consider the various character poems I write as being related to each other, or as part of some larger narrative (although that's a cool idea and maybe something that it would be interesting to try in the future!) They're usually just attempts to create and explore a character and their world, and/or a dilemma or situation the character is involved in, just within the confines of that particular poem. http://www.staythirstymedia.com/201504-088/html/THIRSTY.html Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at The Best American Poetry
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<<< To celebrate the ninetieth anniversary of the publication of The Great Gatsby, we [at Scribner] collected comments from writers on how Gatsby has influenced their work. Here Scribner authors share their favorite lines from the American classic. "When I was eighteen and newly in love with The Great Gatsby, I could quote from memory the novel’s last words, starting with this clause: 'for a transitory enchanted moment man must have held his breath in the presence of this continent, compelled into an aesthetic contemplation he neither understood nor desired, face to face for the last time in history with something commensurate to his capacity for wonder.' Fitzgerald’s rhetoric was major, magnificent. And a few pages earlier, the peroration that begins 'That’s my Middle West' struck me as profound and valedictory, with a subtle ironic thrust achieved in a subordinate phrase a few paragraphs later: 'On the last night, with my trunk packed and my car sold to the grocer . . . ' Years have gone by, and now, after many rereadings, I think I favor the paternal advice that opens the book ('just remember that all the people in the world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had'), governing the point of view of a narrator capable of saying, as the occasion requires, 'I am one of the few honest people that I have ever known,' 'I’m five years too old to lie to myself and call it honor,' and, quoting the man with owl-eyed glasses, 'The poor son of a bitch.' —David Lehman, editor of The Best American Poetry series Favorite lines from The Great Gatsby: “There was music from my neighbor’s house through the summer nights. In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars.” Growing up in Connecticut I spent summers sailing on Long Island Sound and, romantic that I was, I liked to imagine you could actually see Gatsby’s mansion with its ivy-covered tower and Christmas tree lights on the other shore . . . and there was always a party. —Ellen Crosby, author of Ghost Image Favorite lines from The Great Gatsby: “There was music from my neighbor’s house through the summer nights. In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars.” Growing up in Connecticut I spent summers sailing on Long Island Sound and, romantic that I was, I liked to imagine you could actually see Gatsby’s mansion with its ivy-covered tower and Christmas tree lights on the other shore . . . and there was always a party. —Ellen Crosby, author of Ghost Image - See more at: http://www.scribnermagazine.com/2015/04/favorite-lines-from-the-great-gatsby/#sthash.k57EfxRU.dpuf Favorite lines from The Great Gatsby: “There was music from my neighbor’s house through the summer nights. In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars.” Growing up in Connecticut I spent summers sailing on Long... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at The Best American Poetry
The small, yellow grass-onion, spring's first green, precursor to Manhattan's pavements, when plucked as it comes, in bunches, washed, split and fried in a pan, though inclined to be a little slimy, if well cooked and served hot on rye bread is to beer a perfect appetizer—— and the best part of it is they grow everywhere. -- by William Carlos Williams Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at The Best American Poetry
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Lehman, David. Sinatra’s Century: One Hundred Notes on the Man and His World. Harper. Oct. 2015. 224p. ISBN 9780061780066. $24.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062408822. BIOGRAPHY This book offers 100 brief meditations on Sinatra and his music. Lots of fans out there could write 100 mash notes, but what makes this book so special is that the fan in question is distinguished poet Lehman, editor of the “Best American Poetry” series and the Oxford Book of American Poetry. So expect elegant writing and creative insight along with the outpouring of affection. (from Library Journal, April 6, 2015). Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at The Best American Poetry
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This week we welcome Timothy Green as our guest author. Timothy lives in the mountains near Los Angeles and has worked as editor of Rattle since 2005. His book of poems, American Fractal, is available from Red Hen Press. Welcome, Timothy. In other news . . . Let's assemble a cento! New from the Pitt Poetry Series: THE STATE OF THE ART A Chronicle of American Poetry, 1988-2014 -- sdh Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at The Best American Poetry
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Dearest A, OK, let’s get our bearings. The more things stay the same, the more they change – on the surface at least. Peggy Lee sings “Is That All There Is?” while Peggy Olsen’s midriff expands; hem lines are going up and these boots were made for walking; the tension between Peggy and Joan gets more intense; the transformation of Ken Cosgrove from nice guy with level head to one-eyed sourpuss continues apace; and the guys usher in the dawn of the worst decade of male fashion with ugly mustaches – Roger’s white stache in the Rollie Fingers mode; even worse, perhaps, Ted’s big brown concession to the Zeitgeist. The trio of oversexed McCann ad men who can’t get enough of Joan’s panties, hose, and bra: did we (men) really behave that crudely back then? (Don’t answer.) And if, onomastically, Harry Crane echoes Hart Crane, and Dick Whitman evokes Walt, and Michael Ginsberg recalls Allen, then meek John Mathis in the flesh, who reports to Peggy and matches her up with his brother-in-law, will disappoint all of us who made out to Johnny Mathis singing “Chances Are” and “It’s Not for Me to Say” in suburban cellars prepping for the high school prom in 1966. I have never before used the word onomastically in a sentence. Things have changed on the Semitism front at least. The dark-haired waitress waiting on Don, Roger, and three female accomplices in a diner – the waitress named Di – reminds our boy of Rachel Katz, nee Menken, and the first of the last episodes of “Mad Men” go right back to episode one of season one when the heiress of Menken’s department stores gets treated rudely by Don and company in the then-judenrein firm of Sterling and Cooper. In a dream Rachel is one of the models auditioning for the chinchilla ad that the agency is planning. In the most memorable dialogue of the week, she tells Don “I’m supposed to tell you you missed your flight” and he replies with the over-sincerity of a commercial: “Rachel, you’re not just smooth, you’re Wilkinson smooth.” Rachel Menken has died of leukemia. It happened just a week ago. Don is stunned; he pays a shiva visit to Rachel’s sister Barbara, who needs not explain what this seven-day period of mourning entails. Don knows. He has, he says, lived in New York for a long time. Barbara’s husband: “We need one more for a minyan.” Don: “I’ll be glad to help.” Barbara: “He can’t. He’s not Jewish.” The men doven while he stands in the vestibule looking on. You think of the Jews we have met since Nixon and Kennedy faced off in series one: Jane Siegel, who marries Roger; Jane’s pint-sized cousin, butt of jokes, mocked incessantly by Roger until he deftly aims a punch at Roger’s solar plexus; Abe who loves Peggy; Ginsberg, crazy as a loon but right up there with Don and Peggy in the copywriting department; foul-mouthed comedian Jimmy Barrett and his... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at The Best American Poetry
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KS: Let’s start with an introduction. Who is Trio House, and where? TN: Trio House Press is an independent publisher of American poets. The poets we publish are from around the country, as are our editors. Dorinda Wegener is in New York; Terry Lucas is in San Francisco; Sara Lefsyk and I are in Colorado; and Issa Lewis is in Michigan. We are a collective, so some of the poets we publish serve as editors as well. We published Matt Mauch's book, If You're Lucky Is a Theory of Mine, in 2012, and he's been on board with us for some time now. Typically, a poet is published and then serves on the THP collective for two years post-publication. We've just been fortunate Matt is still helping with the whole editing process. I mention all of our editors because they are the ones who work so closely with our poets in order to make those gorgeous books happen. It's no small undertaking to walk with a poet through publication, and our editors do it out of a deep belief in the poet's work. We want their work out there just as much as the poet. It's actually pretty amazing, really, given our geographical distance, that we're able to work with one another. It's the miracle of email, Skype, and telephone. Even our online submissions system streamlines the whole process of poets getting their work into our hands. KS: Five editors in four geographic locations (coast to coast!) sounds challenging. Did you set out to be that far apart, or is that something that happened along the way? TL: We were living on all points of the compass when we met during our MFA years. All of the original editors met in the New England College MFA program founded by Gerald Stern and Maxine Kumin. After we graduated, we kept up with one another through monthly exchanges of poems and critiques, as well as reviews of what we were reading, giving one another the same kind of workshop experience we had shared for the previous two years. We were all madly trying to get our own manuscripts published, and became aware of how many excellent poets are passed over because of how few publishers of poetry there were, as well as how few books poetry presses can afford to publish. All of us were working poets first, editors/publishers second. That was what united us across the miles—and still does. TN: When Dorinda and I first began brainstorming about THP, I was in Florida and she was in New York. So, yes, from the get-go it's always been a distance sort of affair. The distance is challenging only in that when we are in process working with one another; it would be nice at the end of the day to prop up our feet together and get a drink, or something. But, again, technology really allows us to feel as if we're working in the same room with each other and the... Continue reading
Posted Apr 11, 2015 at The Best American Poetry
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Enter your caption in the comments. We'll pick the best and repost. sdh Continue reading
Posted Apr 10, 2015 at The Best American Poetry
<<<< Starting this week, let’s assemble a cento. What’s that, you ask? It was “Wordsmith’s” word of the day on March 14, and you can read their write-up here, replete with links to a cento John Ashbery wrote, as well as one that I put together for The New York Times Book Review upon completing The Oxford Book of American Poetry. In the Times article, I do my best to present a succinct history of the cento, a poem consisting of lines culled from other poems—usually, but not invariably, poems from poets of earlier generations. Historically, the intent was often homage, but it could and can be lampoon. The modern cento has an altogether different rationale and flavor. It is based on the idea that in some sense all poems are collages made up of other people’s words; that the collage is a valid method of composition, and even an eloquent one, as T. S. Eliot shows in “The Waste Land.” Remember Eliot’s motto: “Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal.” This is what I propose we do over the next four to six weeks. For week one, let’s come up with the first four lines of our cento. How? My recommendation is that you assemble on your desk four poetry books—or possibly one anthology—that you like. The poems can differ widely. Step two: choose one line from each of the four poems. You can do this arbitrarily (picking a line at random from page 25 of each volume, for example) or deliberately (recalling a favorite passage—perhaps one you underlined or otherwise noted). Step three: after writing down the lines, play with their order. Run them backward. Maybe line two would work better as line three. Don’t worry overmuch about making sense. Sometimes, as Alice learns in Wonderland, if you take care of the sounds, the sense will take care of itself. >>> For more about the cento as a form, and as a prompt, please visit "Next Line, Please" at https://theamericanscholar.org/lets-assemble-a-cento/#.VSV5I0b7BOZ and enter your lines in the Comments field. Continue reading
Posted Apr 8, 2015 at The Best American Poetry
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A friend in the know says: "If you’re going to the AWP convention in Minneapolis and want to find out what North American poetry looks like from expatriate Europe, you might want to check out booth 536, where Versal, an English language poetry magazine based in Amsterdam, is showcasing not only itself but a dozen other English language magazines and small presses from Europe—Belleville Park Pages (Paris/London), Book Ex Machina (Cyprus), Broken Dimanche (Berlin), Corrupt Press (Luxembourg), Color Treasury (Paris), EstepaEditions (Paris), Fivehundred Places (Berlin), MIEL Books (Ghent), Paris Lit Up (right), Readux Books (Berlin), SAND Journal (Berlin), Structo (London/Leiden), Teller Magazine (Berlin/London), and VLAK and Equus Press (Prague). If the four titles published so far by Color Treasury, the only one of the imprints I know, are any indication of the general quality, I’d get to booth 536 sooner rather than later. Color Treasury 001 is Sarah Lariviere’s poem salt hotel; CT 002 is Rotation, a polylogue by Jonathan Regier for a video piece by Yeondon Jung that was commissioned for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London; CT 003 is a newspaper of poetry and art from around the world; and CT 004 is a collection of three poems by Ron Horning, From Philip Drunk to Philip Sober. salt hotel is out of print, but Rotation and From Philip Drunk to Philip Sober are available at booth 536, each handmade copy accompanied by a free copy of CT 003. Here is a link to Versal’s flyer: http://www.versaljournal.org/blog/2015/4/2/europe-calling-eurotourawp-comes-to-minneapolis" Continue reading
Posted Apr 8, 2015 at The Best American Poetry
Nothing brings back the 1975 World Series better than Jack Jones singing this adaptation of jazz standard "Talk of the Town" to sell Chrysler New Yorkers: Continue reading
Posted Apr 8, 2015 at The Best American Poetry
I help you store the “Number One” foam fingers in their box; and clean the grease of hot dog stands; and check the many locks; and help you stack the bleachers up, douse house lights in the gym, while listening to your baleful cries, your curses thrown at him who turned the spheroid over, or flubbed the easy pass, or watched the orb go unretriev’d, as it bounced off the glass. You weren’t the only one to boast his team would be the king, only to hear instead the taunt cheerleaders love to sing, the lonesome sound of dreams denied that makes the true fan cry: “Na na nana, na na nana, hey hey hey, good-bye …” -- James Cummins Ed. note: The poem, though it may or may not have been written on March 15, marks the end of March Madness this evening and subtly welcomes the baseball season, which annually proves the wisdom of Alexander Pope: "Hope springs eternal in he human breast." Continue reading
Posted Apr 6, 2015 at The Best American Poetry
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This week we welcome Marty McConnell as our guest author. Marty lives in Chicago, Illinois, where she coaches individuals and groups toward building thriving, sustainable lives and organizations. An MFA graduate of Sarah Lawrence College and seven-time National Poetry Slam team member, her work has recently appeared in Best American Poetry 2014, Southern Humanities Review, Gulf Coast, and Indiana Review, and is forthcoming in Columbia Poetry Review. Her first full-length collection, “wine for a shotgun,” was published by EM Press. More information is available at www.martyoutloud.com. Twitter: @martyoutloud. Welcome, Marty. -- sdh Continue reading
Posted Apr 6, 2015 at The Best American Poetry
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Are you ready for the final episodes of Mad Men? In case you need a refresher, here are the "Point Counterpoint" posts from last season. Episode 1: "Time Zones" Episode 2 "A Day's Work" Episode 3: "Field Trip" Episode 4: "The Monolith" Episode 5: "The Runaways" Episode 6: "The Strategy" Episode 7: "Waterloo" Check back weekly for the Gerstler-Lehman recaps of the final episodes of Mad Men. -- sdh Continue reading
Posted Apr 4, 2015 at The Best American Poetry
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The first Major League baseball game I ever saw took place in May 1957 at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn. The Dodgers, my team, were taking on the New York Giants, and my father took me on the long subway ride from Washington Heights, where we lived, to deep Flatbush, where Duke Snider patrolled center field, Carl Furillo played the caroms off the right field wall and nailed the runner trying to stretch a double, Pee Wee Reese gobbled up grounders and Gil Hodges completed the putout, and Roy Campanella won three MVP awards. And who should be pitching for the Dodgers that day? A local boy, who played first base at Lafayette High and basketball at the U of Cincinnati: a Jewish "bonus baby" with a fantastic fastball, a lot of potential but somewhat erratic results thus far in his Major League career: Sandy Koufax. Auspicious. Also, of course, heartbreaking to fall in love with a team that would move to California at the end of that very season, taking the Giants along with them. The Dodgers settled in Chavez Ravine, and Dodger Stadium, erected in 1962, remains the most elegant baseball park in the nation. It is also, amazingly, he third oldest. The Giants have given strutting San Franciscans something extra to cheer about in the last couple of years, but I like the Dodgers' chances with their astute new management this season. On that May day in 1957 Duke Snider stroked his 1,500th major league hit. He also homered and made a graceful running shoestring catch of the line drive that ended the game. Koufax pitched into the eighth inning when Clem Labine relieved him. The final score: Brooklyn 5 -- New York 3. Ray Jablonski homered for the Jints (the authenticating detail!). I was eight years old and still remember Gil Hodges's smile when, before the game, he turned in our direction and acknowledged the greeting of a devoted fan.To this day I have never had a better seat at a ballpark than that one some ten rows back from first base at little Ebbets Field. I have known a number of Sandys -- such as Sanford ("Sandy") Friedman, my classmate at Clare College, Cambridge, who quarterbacked our occasional touch football games and knew more than most of us about pipe tobacco, English cheeses, Renaissance poetry, and Wittgenstein. But I am told that Sandy (like Leslie) is now assumed to be a girl's name -- as you could tell from the coverage of Hurricane Sandy back in 2012. That tempest did terrible damage, and was altogether lamentable, but it did suggest a nickname and an image for the greatest pitcher, who totally owned home plate for a stretch of six years in the early half of the 1960s. Hurricane Sandy. He had the most beautiful curve ball -- it bent like the semicircle that forms the top of a question mark -- but he could beat you even when that pitch deserted him. A steady flow of... Continue reading
Posted Apr 4, 2015 at The Best American Poetry
Thank you for this post -- which, like so many of yours, reveals an extraordinary memory for detail and the ability to weave the details into a narrative. In my high school and college years in Washington Heights (just two blocks shy of Inwood), more than once I was in conversation with an older stranger who suddenly made a comment about the Jews. Usually it was either that they controlled Wall Street or the Communist Party in Moscow, or both, though the two named entities were mortal enemies. I was surprised, because I always thought I looked Jewish. But who knows? When a cab driver in Paris asked me if I was from England, I took it as a compliment, as their view of Americans is that none of us can speak a word of French. For what it's worth, I have had a series of wonderful Italian barbers in the last twenty years -- born there I mean. The place I go to now, three men are from Italy, and on a day when I got some good news, about a year ago, I started singing "Volare" as I exited and they all joined in. Knew all the words, too. Nel blu dipinto di blu, / Felice di stare lassù. -- DL
Are you going? Any chance you might file a report on what you did and saw? I'd love to get a report or a gang of them for the blog. -- DL
Here';s to self-fulfilling predictions and the folly of trying to figure out when winter finally gives up and lets spring streak into town. --DL
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Over at the American Scholar, the "Next Line, Please" contest continues. This time readers are invited to write two-line poems. When I edited The Oxford Book of American Poetry, I discovered a whole genre of two-line poems—poems that make their point quickly and efficiently, with maximum clarity and economy and usually more than a soupçon of wit. Let’s write two-line poems for next week. The trick is, you need to write approximately 10 of them to get one or two that are really terrific. So I encourage everyone to submit as many as five, optimally one on each of five successive days. The most famous anthology piece is doubtlessly Ezra Pound’s succinct plea for Imagism, “In a Station of the Metro”: “The apparition of these faces in a crowd; / Petals on a wet, black bough.” Each word is essential. The title situates us in the specific place; the first line gives us a close-up; the second line accomplishes the metaphorical transformation. Note that for Pound the urban modernist, the value remains on nature. Continue reading and post your entry here. Continue reading
Posted Mar 24, 2015 at The Best American Poetry
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Over at the American Scholar, a group of committed poets have been writing a sestina, week by week, stanza by stanza. Last Tuesday, David Lehman picked a title, thus completing the poem. Here's what he writes about the title and the months-long collaboration: The title that strikes me as the most elegant, succinct, and pertinent is “Compline,” as proposed by Paul Michelsen. Compline is the Latin name for the night prayer, the final canonical prayer in the Catholic day, following Vespers. Our sestina is a prayer of sorts; it is endowed with religion and the spirit of divine immortality leavened by the occasional jest; and if readers don’t recognize the title, all the better if they hunt it down in the dictionary or are moved to visit W. H. Auden’s vastly underrated sequence of poems “Horae Canonicae.” And if there are traces of “complete” and “complaint” in our title, so be it. It was not an easy choice—I also liked “Her Hourglass a Prism” (Charise Hoge), “Mary, Singing” (Christine Rhein), “Uncertainty” (Patricia Smith), andLaWanda Walter’s whimsical “How to Dress for Anything.” To all my thanks, not only for the spirited effort resulting in a truly collaborative endeavor that can, I believe, stand on its own as an anthology piece of the future, but for the contagious enjoyment of the process. I am immensely gratified, too, by the compliments in my direction. If we are a team and I am the coach, well, that metaphor goes right to my head like a perfectly chilled, light-yellow drink consisting of top-shelf bourbon, lemon juice, and honey in equal measures, shaken and served in a rocks glass. I shall do my best to contrive another contest that will spur the team to heights. But that may take me some time. Meanwhile, I have thought of prompts for the next couple of weeks, and I hope they will prove inspiring. Here, then, is our complete sestina, written and titled over the past two months. -- sdh Continue reading
Posted Mar 23, 2015 at The Best American Poetry