On poetry, a quote from Mark Strand

“A poem may be the residue of an inner urgency, one through which the self wishes to register itself, write itself into being, and finally, to charm another self, the reader, into belief. It may also be something equally elusive — the ghost within every experience that wishes it could be seen or felt, acknowledged … Continue reading

Reinventing America, by Phillip Levine

The city was huge. A boy of twelve could walk for hours while the closed houses stared down at him from early morning to dusk, and he’d get nowhere. Oh no, I was not that boy. Even at twelve I knew enough to stay in my own neighborhood, I knew anyone who left might not … Continue reading

This Room and Everything in It, by Li-Young Lee

Lie still now while I prepare for my future, certain hard days ahead, when I’ll need what I know so clearly this moment. I am making use of the one thing I learned of all the things my father tried to teach me: the art of memory. I am letting this room and everything in … Continue reading

Another Poem on Blue, by Claire Bateman

This is so worth the read.  A poem on blue that will make your heart both swell and feel light. Claire Bateman: “Another Poem on Blue”.

On Fear by Mary Ruefle

The apple set the world in motion. We fail. And so desire to progress, to become better poets, to eradicate a disease, to become better people, to perfect that which is perpetually imperfect. The biblical “fall” is just such an anti-constraint. The apple was fear. (And remember, fear is knowledge, according to Nietzsche.) The apple … Continue reading

Characteristics of Life, by Camille Dungy

A fifth of animals without backbones could be at risk of extinction, say scientists. -BBC Nature News Ask me if I speak for the snail and I will tell you I speak for the snail. speak of underneathedness and the welcome of mosses, of life that springs up, little lives that pull back and wait … Continue reading

American Wedding, by Joseph Millar

AMERICAN WEDDING The yarmulke hides the bald spot on my goyische skull as I watch my new son-in-law’s size 13 stomp down on the linen-swathed wineglass. My daughter looks radiant, no other word for it, gowned in white satin the color of light. We’re surrounded by Jews dressed in black like the sea, like the … Continue reading

Stephen Burt, Poetry’s Cross-Dressing Kingmaker – NYTimes.com

When I asked Stephen Burt’s parents if they worried about him when he was young, Burt’s father, Jeff, replied by asking me if I was Jewish. I told him I was. “Well,” he said, “to ask Jewish parents if they were worried about their children — it is a statement of fact! But were we … Continue reading

The Whole Creation, by John Koethe

The Whole Creation for Harold Bloom I still believe in it, though I don’t know who else does. I first experienced it in the building I have an office in now And called it poetry, but the word was just a placeholder For something undefined, though that’s too simple a way to put it. You … Continue reading

Natasha Trethewey on Her Revision Process « the poet’s billow

This is a really insightful article on revision. Here’s an excerpt: How Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey Wrote Her Father’s ‘Elegy’ By Alex Hoyt Now, the reader seeing the final draft doesn’t know that I have my own secret journal in which I feel “silenced” by my father. The work of the poem is following certain … Continue reading