“Civic poetry is ascending”

“Civic poetry is public poetry. It is political poetry. It is about the hard stuff of life: money, crime, gender, corporate excess, racial injustice. It gives expression not just to our rites but also to our problems and even our values; these poems are not about rustic vacations.

“Civic poetry is ascending. It has asserted itself in recent years in the form of poetry slams and, of course, political rap, but now it is rising again on the page….” 

-Alissa Quart – Political Poetry for Our Times: We shouldn’t give up on poetry, if only because we need a different public language to describe our country.Bill Moyers and Company – 3/31/17

NY Weeklies: The Tavern Parlor, I love wine! & HOT TUB AFTER SKIING, DECEMBER, 2016



We were cold. All day we were cold.

We thought of bitter gods (hard not to think of gods

so close to the heavens) and were frightened.

The mountain is divided. On one side the sun spilled its brilliance.

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Sandra Simonds – 8. I Love Wine!


Today, omg, I’m just so spaced out and splendid
 ———-as I walk this earth without death, without an apron,
without being a wife and so my queer heart transforms into the nostrils of a
——workhorse whose exhalation breaks through the iced tulip sky.

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Danielle Chapman – THE TAVERN PARLOR

A giant step up into the dip—

the unavoidable tremble of cocktail tumblers

against bottles of bourbon and bitters

droning the spitoon.

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Dailies 3/13/17: America, lobsters, the Afterlife, & something moving crabwise across the snow



Andrew Motion – Fog in Naskeag Harbor



When we had done our business with the lobster-man
choosing our dinner from dozens of creatures packed
in a fiberglass tank in his garage, their pincers pinched
in plastic bands but all visibly sensible and frustrated,

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James Allen Hall – Afterlife

We’re not from here. We don’t aria, we warble.
We wore suits to get here, rumpled by the hot car ride.
Pumped our own gas. In Heaven two days,

still the custom shirtlessness offends.  Like it’s the g-d
French Rivera. (You say it yours.  We’ll say it the right way.)
Nor do we au revoir. We eat without speaking, hunched over

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Maxime Kumin – The Presence

Something went crabwise
across the snow this morning.
Something went hard and slow
over our hayfield.

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Dean Rader – America, I do not call your name without hope

America, I do not call your name without hope
not even when you lay your knife
against my throat or lace my hands
behind my back, the cuffs connecting

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“Make America great again” Golden Shovel poems

imgresMary Schmich, a columnist from the Chicago Tribune, took inspiration from Terrance Hayes’ new “Golden Shovel” poetry form & asked her Facebook followers to create poems using the words “Make America great again.” She admits that “None of these verses will wind up in an anthology of the world’s greatest poems, but they remind us that in politics and poetry, words are what you make of them.”

Take the ‘Make America great again’ poetry challenge – Mary Schmich – Chicago Tribune – 3/10/17

“Here’s how the form works: Pick a line from a poem. Then write your own poem, using one word of the borrowed line as the last word of each line of yours. Keep the words in order.

“It’s time we make

This place we call America

Not just great

But good again.

“See how it works? Read the last word of each line and you get ‘Make America great again.’

” It’s not always easy to feel sympathy for an artist with a trust fund and whose family have their own graveyard. “


Robert Lowell at 100: why his poetry has never been more relevantLowell’s confessional work of the 1960s marked a sea change in American letters – then he fell out of favour. But on the eve of his centenary, his work offers an urgent political message in a time of Trump – Max Liu – The Guardian – 3/1/17

“Today, Bishop’s popularity is soaring while Lowell’s has waned. Seamus Heaney once attributed this to Lowell’s background and the “orchestral crash” of his verse: “Lowell was a white Anglo-Saxon Protestant male, a Eurocentric, egotistical sublime, writing as if he intended to be heard in a high wind.” It’s not always easy to feel sympathy for an artist with a trust fund and whose family have their own graveyard. But Lowell knew he was privileged, and the beauty and specificity with which he describes his world creates space for the reader to reflect on their own experience. His writing may even have subtle political messages for our times; the poet Claudia Rankine, who cites Life Studies as an influence on her groundbreaking 2015 work Citizen: An American Lyric, sees in Lowell’s book “a struggle with … the construction of whiteness”.

“…Lowell was consistently at odds with the US government, serving jail time as a conscientious objector during the second world war, rejecting an invitation to the White House in 1965 to protest Lyndon Johnson’s foreign policy, speaking at the March on the Pentagon in 1967.”

Dailies 2/21/17: secrets, an Open House, a photo of a Nativity, & post-Trump depression



New Year – Joanna Klink

We woke to the darkness before our eyes,
unable to take the measure of the loss.
Who are they. What are we. What have we
abandoned to arrive with such violence at this hour.

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After the Open House – Marilyn Nelson

I saw again, at last night’s open house,
that families are like jigsaw puzzles
of the self-portraits children draw at school.
The more pieces you see, the more you understand.

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VIII – from “Twelve Songs” – W.H. Auden

At last the secret is out, as it always must come in the end,
The delicious story is ripe to tell to the intimate friend;
Over the tea-cups and in the square the tongue has its desire;
Still waters run deep, my dear, there’s never smoke without fire.

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Nativity  – Mike White


I am the one
who took the photo,

the one
who on a frigid moonless night

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