Dailies 1/20/18


Yrsa Daley-Ward – bone

From One
who says, ‘Don’t cry.
You’ll like it after a while.’

Read rest of poem 


Emily Fragos – After Dürer

As when icy illness ends that you never expected
Could possibly end, and the terrified body, enveloped

Read rest of poem 


Anna Seward – Sonnet 92 [Behold that Tree, in Autumn’s dim decay]

Behold that Tree, in Autumn’s dim decay, 
   Stript by the frequent, chill, and eddying Wind; 
   Where yet some yellow, lonely leaves we find 
   Lingering and trembling on the naked spray, 
Read rest of poem 


Poetry Diary: Happy 1st day of the government shutdown….

Patricia Lockwood: Government Spending

The government spent a Patricia on me,
“a huge waste,” it lamented, “when we could
have been spending it on another Nixon,”

A poem that made things happen

“The poet Jenny Joseph, who has died aged 85, might well have wondered a little ruefully whether WH Auden was altogether correct in maintaining that ‘poetry makes nothing happen’. Her famous Warning (‘When I am an old woman I shall wear purple/ With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me … ‘) was written when she was 28, and after its appearance in an early book went almost unnoticed for 25 years. Then, because of its contention that growing old should be a defiant process, it gradually began to be slotted into serious selections of writing about old age, and for its merit ended up in one or two grander places, such as Philip Larkin’s Oxford Book of Twentieth Century English Verse in 1973.”

Jenny Joseph – Warning
When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.

American Life in Poetry: Column 669



Poems that move back and forth through time can be intriguing. In this poem by Pat Schneider, she looks deep into the past and evokes it in compelling detail, though the poem speculates that there will arrive a future in which this particular moment in the past is all but forgotten. Yet it’s vividly remembered, in that same future, which is now. Schneider lives in Massachusetts and this is from her book Another River: New and Selected Poems, from Amherst Writers & Artists Press.

From where I stand

at the third floor window of the tenement,
the street looks shiny.
It has been washed and rinsed by rain.
Beyond the silver streaks of the streetcar tracks
a single streetlight stands
in a pool of wet light. It is night.
St. Louis. Nineteen forty-seven.
I have just come home from the orphanage
to stay.

Years later, I will be another person.
I will almost not remember this summerónot
at all. But for nowówith the streetlight
reflecting an aura on the wet sidewalk,
with dark behind me in the dirty
two rooms we call home,

for now, I see it all.

Tomorrow I will begin to try to forget.
But in this moment everything is clear:
who I am, where I am, and the clean place
that I have left behind.
As clear as the streetlight: how distinct
its limits in the vast dark and the rain.

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 ©2005 by Pat Schneider fromAnother River: New & Selected Poems, (Amherst Writers & Artists Press, 2005). Poem reprinted by permission of Pat Schneider and the publisher. Introduction copyright © 2018 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.

Dailies 1/19/18


Christine Gosnay  – Listening to Townes Van Zandt

We are of one mind
and too much has not been said
about all the quiet afternoons
childhood offered us,

Read rest of poem 


Sheryl St. Germain – Old Fish

This is what she knows:
whether water is sweet or salt or poison,
that shadows and ripples signify death,
that nets are invisible in water.

Read rest of poem 



Marianne Boruch – There Ought to Be a Law Against Henry

given his showing up to teach at the U 
disheveled, jittery cigarette and cigarette and probably 
the drink, losing the very way there 
over river, river of all song, all American story
Read rest of poem 



Poetry Diary: The dirt and dust from the gutting of our water-damaged house is now making me cough up blood. Yay home-ownership!!!!!

Grace Paley – House: Some Instructions

If you have a house
you must think about it all the time
as you reside in the house so
it must be a home in your mind


“We live in a Twitter world now — what does that mean for poetry?”

Well, this is annoying.

News from Canada:

“Independent Toronto press Coach House Books has placed its prestigious poetry program ‘on hiatus’ and will not be accepting any poetry submissions until further notice.

“The announcement was made on the company’s blog on Tuesday.

“’Poetry is changing, and the way people read is changing,’ Alana Wilcox, editorial director of Coach House, told the Star. ‘We live in a Twitter world now — what does that mean for poetry?’”

Coach House Books puts poetry ‘on hiatus’The Star – Deborah Dundas – January 16, 2018

Hello Coach House Books: check out the publishing success of Patricia Lockwood, “the Poet Laureate of Twitter,” or of Rupi Kaur, fueled by Instagram, (best-selling poet who has over 2 million followers,) or read about how Maggie Smith’s “Good Bones” went viral on Twitter or read about the tricks Button Poetry has for using social media to sell poetry books. Hardcopy ones. There are many other examples of how this can be the best time for poetry publishing ever. Find them. Learn from them.


Unless you’re not up to the challenge.

Dailies 1/18/18


Carl Dennis – A Stand of Cottonwood

I’m glad to be here, amid these cottonwood trees,
Feeling the wind from the lake on my face,
Sniffing the marsh smells and lake smells
As I listen to the calls of unseen shorebirds.

Read rest of poem 


Ann A. Philips – The Octopus Diaries

Little udder body, half dead. 5 bucks from the raw bar. Brought it home in a jar.

too bright

slick cave

no dark

bad water

Read rest of poem 


Jean Valentine – In the Library

Light drifts across the ceiling
as if we are under water

—whoever would approach you
you changed the comer
Read rest of poem 



Anger in women’s poetry: from wounds to demands for change

I Used to Insist I Didn’t Get Angry. Not Anymore.: On female rage. – Leslie Jamison – New York Times – January 17, 2018

An important article about women and rage. It uses examples by Sylvia Plath, Audre Lorde, and Kiki Petrosino, among other women writers. Of Plath, Jamison writes that for many years

 “I’d missed the rage that fueled Plath’s poetry like a ferocious gasoline, lifting her speakers (sometimes literally) into flight: ‘Now she is flying/More terrible than she ever was, red/Scar in the sky, red comet/Over the engine that killed her — the mausoleum, the wax house.’ The speaker becomes a scar — this irrefutable evidence of her own pain — but this scar, in turn, becomes a comet: terrible and determined, soaring triumphant over the instruments of her own supposed destruction. I’d always been preoccupied with the pained disintegration of Plath’s speakers, but once I started looking, I saw the comet trails of their angry resurrections everywhere, delivering their unapologetic fantasies of retribution: ‘Out of the ash/I rise with my red hair/And I eat men like air.’”

The 1st poem quoted above is “Strings,” the 2nd is “Lady Lazarus.”  The last poem Jamison quotes is Kiki Petrosino’s “At the Teahouse,” which I haven’t been able to find on-line yet 😦

“Once upon a time/I had enough anger in me to crack crystal,” the poet Kiki Petrosino writes in her 2011 poem ‘At the Teahouse.’ ‘I boiled up from bed/in my enormous nightdress, with my lungs full of burning/chrysanthemums.’ This is a vision of anger as fuel and fire, as a powerful inoculation against passivity, as strange but holy milk suckled from the wolf. This anger is more like an itch than a wound. It demands that something happen.”

Time To Hear Ourselves Think


chaosPoetry Diary: The photograph above is of part of our hallway and bathroom after workers gutted it. (We came home from my father’s memorial last week to find part of our house demolished due to frozen-pipe related damage. Recent life has been fun.) The water-picture is by my 6 year old & the poem I taped to the wall is “The Guest House” by Rumi, esp. because of its lines “Welcome and entertain them all!/Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,/who violently sweep your house/empty of its furniture,/still, treat each guest honorably./He may be clearing you out/for some new delight.” One can only hope.
We had industrial-strength dehumidifiers and fans blowing in the house for about a week. The constant noise was driving us crazy, bonkers, coocoo, totally utterly nuts. But they were taken away yesterday, so we now have
by Dick Allen 
We’ve missed that for years, not so much
The thinking itself–that goes on regardless–
But the hearing of it, small waterwheels
Turning in millponds, the press and hiss
Of steam irons in storefront laundry shops,
Gears changing, the tick in the clock
Hopping upstairs. It’s as if,
In muffled slow motion, through shock and aftershock,
We kept feeling with our hands–all thought
Outside ourselves, all concepts
Those railroad stations we were always leaving,
Elevators, the courthouse steps
Hurrying toward collapse. But now that we have
Stolen this time, I’m beginning
To hear numbers–I swear it–
Little formations of numbers gathering
Strength as their flanks swing east, and pigeons
Cooing in bank alcoves, and my own
Pencil tapping, ears popping, the spitting sound
Made when tires roll over tiny stones
And it’s almost frightening to think
Of what was going on, how much lies there
Scattered, or wounded, or dead
In ourselves that we could not hear.

By the way, thank you so much to the friends & family members who sent money to Poetry Daily in lieu of flowers for my Dad. They initially didn’t meet their fund-raising goals (which would be bad if they couldn’t keep going, esp as we lost “The Writer’s Almanac,” another great daily poetry site– due to the Garrison Keillor alleged-scandal a few months ago) but a letter went out earlier this week to readers saying “You put us over the top! Thank you so much for all your support in getting us through our 2017 fundraising drive .Last week we reached our $60,000 goal, with an additional $2000 to give us a wonderful head start into 2018!” I believe that the donations made in honor of Dad helped w/this. 🙂 Thank you. 

Poetry Daily does a fantastic job in getting poetry out there, as they post work from new books and literary magazines every day, supporting both poets and the literary magazines and presses who publish them. Dad’s poem “Time to Hear Ourselves Think” was the second poem they ever posted, back when they started in 1997. He’s been a big supporter of them from the beginning, so he would be pleased at this news. 

I think that, to help me get through my mourning and get myself used to my role as my father’s “literary executer,” I may try to read/concentrate on a different one of his poems each day.  I won’t post them all here, of course, but might write about the process from time to time in case the topic of what-happens-to-a-poet’s-work-after-they-die might be of interest to readers of this blog. We’re receiving letters from people who just started reading my father’s work for the first time this past week.  Funny to think of them “meeting” him, in a way.

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