Sticks & Stones: The Fourth Year

Here’s to another year of celebrating poetry! Each book I reviewed in 2021 was a tremendous gift. As we endured a second pandemic year, poets wrote about navigating an unquiet and often frightening world, about Nature, humanity, and relationships, about heredity, abuse, and the rewards of long love.  […]

Fear of the Blank Page

The blank page. A rectangle of absence, it fills the writer with equal parts expectation and dread. A stark reminder of the writer’s apartness, it demands that you pay attention to it and not your family, dogs, messy house, or whatever else might distract you.  We could compare […]

Generating New Poems from Freewrites

I’m a dedicated freewriter. I especially like that freewriting has roots in poet Jack Kerouac’s stream of consciousness, “spontaneous prose,” the Surrealist Movement’s “automatic writing,” and in Yeat’s “trance-writing.” (Check out this videopoem by Helena Postigo, “I Think of Dean Moriarity.”) My first introduction to freewriting was in a college English class in 1980. […]

Words with Pictures: Ekphrasis

Ekphrasis: (meaning “description” in Greek; expanded to mean “the use of detailed description of a work of visual art as a literary device.”) Merriam-Webster: a literary description of or commentary on a visual work of art I published my first ekphrastic poems in the Spring/Summer 2009 issue of Ekphrasis, […]

What’s Wrong with Inspiration?

Plenty, it seems. Ask any writer who’s been at the craft for awhile what inspires her and you might get this pithy answer: everything. Or nothing—“I don’t need inspiration,” says the truly advanced writer. “I can write a poem, or a story, or an essay, just by staring at the […]

My Worst Poetry Reading

I recently received an exquisite little treasure: What Could Possibly Go Wrong? Poets & Writers Spill Their Worst Reading Experiences, edited by Richard Peabody of Gargoyle Magazine and Paycock Press. This charming book of flops and failures gladdened my heart, from its laugh-out-loud moments—i.e., Dinty W. Moore’s very first reading […]

A Tribute to Al Young

“For her graphic imagination and her instinct for matching feeling to image, I chose Erica Goss’s poems. It is far easier to describe in language the push-pull and shove of emotional attraction than it is to locate and pinpoint the meaning of feeling in time and space. Put […]

Barry Lopez: An Appreciation

I was twenty-six years old when I first read Arctic Dreams, Barry Lopez’s National Book Award-winning account of the five years he spent visiting the Arctic region. It was a difficult read for me. I tried to care about a land that seemed not only distant, but harsh and […]

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