“Can poetry address the massive and systematic degradation of the mental environment?”

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“Poetry heals and integrates; online, things fly apart. God knows what kind of feedback Lockwood gets, the trolls and mugwumps and flickering testicular wraiths she has to contend with. I can see her in my mind, post-religion, post-family, a savvy, wounded poet hanging over an electronic abyss. But the pen that can describe a rural motel room as looking ‘like the place where Smokey the Bear went to cheat on his wife’ is sharp enough for the occasion, for the moment. Can poetry address the massive and systematic degradation of the mental environment? Lockwood, her personae shimmering, her linguistic sensors tingling, is one of the few poets tough enough and shrewd enough to try. And it looks like we’re all going to have to try, in our own lives, in our own poems. Or burst like scared chickens.”

James Parker – Poet on the Edge:Indiana-born, Twitter-savvy, and Millennially mischievous, Patricia Lockwood taps into the temper of the times. – The Atlantic – May 2017

Here’s the 1st few lines & a link to Lockwood’s most famous poem: 

Patricia Lockwood, “Rape Joke”

The rape joke is that you were 19 years old.

The rape joke is that he was your boyfriend.

The rape joke it wore a goatee. A goatee.


Read rest of poem 

Dailies 4/25/17: Sisyphus in love, the necessary brevity of pleasure, a trophic cascade and a sonnet for one’s own assassin

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Leslie Harrison – [Sisyphus in love] 

At first it was the stone the rough stubble skin of it the call
and response the stone’s going its perpetual coming back
the insistence of the fact of it shaping each piece of his body
muscle bone rough hands their slow curve toward its weight

Read rest of poem 

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Samuel Hazo – The Necessary Brevity of Pleasures

Prolonged, they slacken into pain
or sadness in accordance with the law
of apples.

Read rest of poem 

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Terrance Hayes – American Sonnet for My Past and Future Assassin

Any day now you will have the ability to feed the name
Of anyone into an engine & your long lost half brother
As well as whoever else possesses a version of his name
Will appear before your face in bits of pixels & data

Read rest of poem 

 

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Camille T. Dungy – Trophic Cascade

After the reintroduction of gray wolves
to Yellowstone and, as anticipated, their culling
of deer, trees grew beyond the deer stunt
of the mid century. In their up reach

Read rest of poem 

Dailies, 4/24/17: what have I learned? The revolution starts at home. Also, friends (esp. those who aren’t poets) & espresso

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Collette Bryce: Espresso

A minuscule bird
clinging to a twig

is shredding a loop
of knotted string

Read rest of poem 

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Becca Klaver – The revolution starts at home 

The revolution will be ready in, like, half an hour
The revolution is shedding like crazy
The revolution thinks it’s time to put the screens back in
The revolution wobbles at the corner

Read rest of poem 

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Gary Snyder – What Have I Learned

What have I learned but
the proper use for several tools?

The moments
between hard pleasant tasks

Read rest of poem

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Ali Power – My Friends

my friends
create the mood
by describing it
turning off all the lights

Read rest of poem 

 

Trust your own voice

“…As writers, you trust your own voice. A lot of people write and think, ‘The public will like this,’ or, ‘This will be important,’ but you are your first reader. The first person that has to be impressed with what you’re writing is you. You always have to remember that.”

-Nikki Giovanni, from an interview at The Creative Independent: Nikki Giovanni on trusting your own voice – Amy Rose Spiegel – 4/24/17. Giovanni also says in it that she’s a lot less angry than she used to be.   “I’m 73. I’m not going to spend my time being angry with some fool over something that doesn’t make sense. What I’m going to do is go on about my business.”

BLK History Month
Nikki Giovanni 
If Black History Month is not
viable then wind does not
carry the seeds and drop them
on fertile ground

Dailies 4/23/17: ironing one’s father’s shirts, getting locked out of one’s house by one’s mother, becoming independent & getting one’s own place, & dreaming of having kids of one’s own

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Jo McDougall – Fairy Tale

I’m fourteen, ironing my father’s shirts.
I am his handmaiden, chosen.

Read rest of poem 

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Marilyn Longstaff – Opposite Freedom Fields Park, 1961

 

My mother, in a fit of whimsey, locked us out.

 

decided we should walk, like tradesmen,

Read rest of poem

 

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Margaret Hasse – Belongings

After being a student, then an hourly worker,
I became a career girl and earned real money.

Read rest of poem 

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Joseph Seamon Cotter Jr. – A Prayer

As I lie in bed,
Flat on my back;
There passes across my ceiling
An endless panorama of things—

Read rest of poem 

 

American Life in Poetry: Column 630

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BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE

I’m celebrating my 78th birthday by publishing one of my own poems. When an old guy like me is still writing poetry, he tends to write a lot of old-guy poems.

Look for Me

Look for me under the hood
of that old Chevrolet settled in weeds
at the end of the pasture.

I’m the radiator that spent its years
bolted in front of an engine
shoving me forward into the wind.

Whatever was in me in those days
has mostly leaked away,
but my cap’s still screwed on tight

and I know the names of all these
tattered moths and broken grasshoppers
the rest of you’ve forgotten.


We do not accept unsolicited submissions. American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2017 by Ted Kooser, “Look for Me.” Poem reprinted by permission of Ted Kooser. Introduction copyright © 2017 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006.

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