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The Self as Mulitple: John Beer’s Essay on the Political Lyric Gathers Nathaniel Mackey, Bhanu Kapil, Melissa Buzzeo, Tyehimba Jess

Quite an essay in Spoon River Review: John Beer writes about the political lyric as he finds it in Blue Fasa, by Nathaniel Mackey; Ban en Banlieu, by Bhanu Kapil; The Devastation, by Melissa Buzzeo; and Olio, by Tyehimba Jess. An excerpt: What connects these books for me, as part of a significant tendency in […]

Whitman on the Eve of Trump’s Inauguration

Leslie Lawrence of WBUR (Boston) weighs in on a few choice reading materials in preparation for Trump’s inauguration to the White House. In today’s commentary, “If Trump Won’t Give Us Inauguration Poetry, Let Us Read Whitman,” Lawrence reflects on inaugural poems from prior inaugurations, from Robert Frost’s appearance at Kennedy’s, to Richard Blanco at Obama’s. […]

Poetry Foundation: Poetry Spotlight

Last week, we took a look at the Paul Laurence Dunbar House in Dayton, Ohio. This week, let’s travel to Chicago to examine the Poetry Foundation. By the way, I appreciate the poetry spotlight ideas people have sent my way. Keep them coming at with the subject line: Poetry Spotlight Idea. Show More Summary

PEN Translation & PEN/Jean Stein Book Award Finalists Announced

The PEN/Jean Stein Book Award–with a tremendous $75,000 purse–has announced its 2017 finalists, and among them is Tyehimba Jess’s Olio (Wave Books)! The new PEN/Jean Stein Book Award is an annual award which recognizes a book-length work of any genre for its originality, merit, and impact. This literary honor will be conferred on a book […]

Elizabeth Alexander Recalls Her Day at Obama’s First Inauguration

Elizabeth Alexander reminisces for the New Yorker about her day as inaugural poet. “This is a story about eight years ago this week,” she writes. “President-elect Barack Obama had asked me to compose and recite a poem for his first Inauguration. It was the fourth time in history that a poet would speak at a […]

LARB Pairs Poetry by Robert Pinsky & Tess Taylor

For her series “Second Acts,” Lisa Russ Spaar pairs second books by Robert Pinsky (An Explanation of America, 1979) and Tess Taylor (Work & Days, 2016), which address the vexing nature of modern American life. “Every generation probably feels a certain climactic fin de siècle sense of doom at the turn of the year — […]

For Many, ‘Writing is Really a Form of Democracy’

As Marilyn Annucci, a participant in Madison Writers Resist, explains to The Cap Times: “Writing is really a form of democracy[…] It takes love and attention. It’s a process.” As with many cities, towns, and villages across the United States, writers are participating in democracy in a variety of ways, ranging from protests to literary […]

Reading List: January 2017

The Reading List is a feature of Poetry magazine’s Editors’ Blog. This month contributors to the January 2017 issue share some books that held their interest. Farnoosh Fathi For the past two years, I’ve been ecstatically moored in the Smith College archives, exploring the writings of the visionary poet Joan Murray (1917–1942). Like the young […]

Open Letter From a Poet to the Alarmist Org Behind the Professor Watchlist

An open letter from Portland-based poet Derek Mong to the right-wing Turning Point USA, organizers of the Professor Watchlist, “a catalogue of instructors who ‘advance a radical agenda'” (also known as an easy way to discover faculty you might want to study with) has been published at the Kenyon Review. Mong self-describes as the only […]

TIME: Poets ‘Find Solace in Verse’ on Eve of Trump’s Inauguration

On the eve of Donald Trump’s election to the White House, poets around the nation are organizing poetry slams, readings, and events, to resist the incoming administration and inspire protest. William J. Kole of TIME spoke with Erin Belieu, Robert Pinsky, Daniel Evans Pritchard, and Michael Ansara about their plans to resist this week’s gloom. […]

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 380

For today’s prompt, write a nothing better poem. Now, there are at least a couple ways to take this, but probably more. First, the poem could be about a moment that’s so amazing that nothing could ever be better–kind of like a high moment poem. Show More Summary

Announcing the 2016 National Book Critics Circle Award Finalists

National Book Critics Circle has announced their 30 finalists in six categories–autobiography, biography, criticism, fiction, nonfiction, and poetry–for the outstanding books of 2016. The awards will be presented on March 16, 2017, in New York City. Show More Summary

Monica Youn, Writers, Protest Trump Administration

Jeffrey Brown of PBS NewsHour shares his conversation with poet Monica Youn on the eve of Donald Trump’s inauguration this week. Youn, who is “not used to responding to particular current events — especially one so new, so raw, and so huge” received a commission from Boston Review to write a poem about political disaster […]

Discussing Byron’s ‘Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage’ at BBC Radio 4

At BBC Radio 4, Melvyn Bragg and his laureled guests–who include Jonathan Bate, Professor of English Literature at the University of Warwick; Jane Stabler, Reader in Romanticism at the University of St Andrews; and Emily Bernhard Jackson,...Show More Summary

Talisman Features Special Section on George Quasha

We’ve been going back and taking a deeper look into the new issue of Talisman (we made mention of Joel Lewis’s essay on Baraka last week), and appreciating the generous portfolio of writing by and about George Quasha. The special section is edited by Burt Kimmelman, who provides an introduction. Kimmelman writes: George Quasha’s presence […]

At 100, Henry Morgenthau III Turns to Poetry to Establish His Own Identity

Morgenthau joins NPR’s Scott Simon to discuss the publication of his first poetry collection, Sunday in Purgatory, which arrives on bookshelves as Morgenthau turns 100. (He began to write poetry in his nineties.) Morgenthau comes from a notable family, his father was Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Treasury Secretary. Now, he turns to writing poetry as a […]

Collecting Poems into a Book: 5 Poets Share Their Method

I’ve been enjoying going through previous poet interviews to see how poets have shared common experiences–often in unique ways. So here’s one more directed around the concept of collecting poems into a book. Order the New Poet’s Market!...Show More Summary

Measure as a Mediation Between the Personal & the Collective: Alice Notley’s Benediction

Steve Zultanski wrote about Alice Notley’s Benediction (Letter Machine Editions, 2015) for the Los Angeles Review of Books in December, and the essay is a don’t-miss, as it furthers “[t]he tension between individual voice and the public function of collective utterance.” More: Notley’s work is not simply about the reality of the fragment (as an […]

Ottava Rima: Poetic Form

For the first poetic form of 2017, let’s take a look at ottava rima. Ottava Rima Poems With an Italian origin, the earliest known ottava rima were written by Giovanni Boccaccio. In English, Lord Byron used the form to write Don Juan....Show More Summary

Capturing the Memory of a Fading Homeland Through Poetry

NPR’s Alice Fordham travels to Cambridge to meet Nineb Lamassu, a researcher who is studying the traditional epic poetry of the Assyrian empire, which spread into what is now Northern Iraq. At a time when the Middle East’s architectural heritage is gradually being destroyed by ongoing wars, Fordham explains how Lamassu’s work will capture the […]

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