American Poetry, Poetry

Black Earth – Marianne Moore

Poet Marianne Moore once said, 'Poetry watches life with affection,' a sentiment echoed in her poem Black Earth, which featured in a 1924 collection called Observations. In the poem, Moore imagines herself - affectionately - as an elephant, with thick skin 'cut into checkers by rut upon rut of unpreventable experience' that conceals the 'beautiful… Continue reading Black Earth – Marianne Moore

American Poetry, Poetry

Behind Me – dips Eternity – Emily Dickinson

The term between eternity and immortality - our lives - is the subject of Emily Dickinson's poem number 721. It's a gentle vision of life melting and disappearing into a drift and the being itself a 'miracle' as she refers to it in the last verse. She also uses the image of the moon reflected… Continue reading Behind Me – dips Eternity – Emily Dickinson

American Poetry, Poetry

Jane Hirshfield’s Ode to Optimism and Resilience

"Poetry itself is an instrument of resilience," Jane Hirshfield wrote more than a decade ago when referring to her poem 'Optimism' for the Washington Post. Poetry, she continues, reflects "life's continuing embrace of its own implausible, risky existence." A residential Zen student of many years, Jane Hirshfield's work embodies a continuing sense of wonder and… Continue reading Jane Hirshfield’s Ode to Optimism and Resilience

American Poetry, Lyrics, Poetry

The Best Ever Death Metal Band Out of Denton – John Darnielle

"To take somebody's adolescence away is to deny that person some of the closest looks at God's face that we ever get on this planet," said songwriter John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats in reference to his song The Best Ever Death Metal Band Out of Denton. The song is an ode to the integrity of adolescent ambitions,… Continue reading The Best Ever Death Metal Band Out of Denton – John Darnielle

American Poetry, Book Excerpts, Poetry

W.S. Merwin – Variation on a Theme

“I think there’s a kind of desperate hope built into poetry now that one really wants, hopelessly, to save the world.” These were the words of former Poet Laureate W.S. Merwin whose work reflected his lifelong concern and respect for the natural world. Merwin moved to Hawaii in 1977 in order to study Zen Buddhism,… Continue reading W.S. Merwin – Variation on a Theme

American Poetry, Book Excerpts, Poetry

Dorianne Laux – Life is Beautiful

In her poem, Life is Beautiful, Dorianne Laux is literally making art from trash as she considers the wonder of a fly and its lifecycle through the things that we discard. That the miraculous can exist in the most pungent and fecund places, and that the birth of a maggot in such a world can… Continue reading Dorianne Laux – Life is Beautiful

American Poetry, Poetry

The Caged Bird Sings of Freedom

The image of a caged bird is one that Maya Angelou used repeatedly to illustrate the struggle of African-Americans during the Civil Rights era in the United States. A powerful image, it can also represent the wider human endeavor towards freedom of every variety, both internal and external. The free bird is the one who… Continue reading The Caged Bird Sings of Freedom

American Poetry, Beat Poetry, Poetry

A Buddha in the Woodpile

Lawrence Ferlinghetti was a poet and an activist and one of the central figures of the Beat movement in the 1950s. From his City Lights Bookstore and publishing house, he published writers like Allen Ginsberg, Gary Snyder and Jack Kerouac who were breaking with the norms and traditions of not just poetry and literature, but… Continue reading A Buddha in the Woodpile

Joy Harjo
American Poetry, Native American Poetry, Poetry

Eagle Poem – Joy Harjo

Oklahoma-born Joy Harjo is a member of the Mvskoke Nation and the United States' 23rd poet laureate, the first Native American to be nominated for the post. Much of the imagery she uses in her poems is couched in nature as well as myth and ancestry. In Eagle Poem, she invokes circles and revolutions, wordless… Continue reading Eagle Poem – Joy Harjo

American Poetry, Poetry

It is Better to Write, Then Die – Patti Smith

"I could hear / the freemen call / the way is hard / the gate is narrow / what matter I say" Patti Smith's A Writer's Song pays homage to the instinct for laying one's mat 'among the reeds' and writing one's name 'upon the water'. Writing, she suggests, is a response in tune with… Continue reading It is Better to Write, Then Die – Patti Smith