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

English Poetry, Poetry

Babak Ganjei – Don’t Interrupt the Adults

Babak Ganjei is a London-based artist, musician, comic book writer and radio show host. The poetry he writes can be found on his website. An adept of blackout poetry - for which he has used books by Jeremy Clarkson, Nigel Farage and Donald Trump, Babak also writes his own original verse like this brilliant homage to… Continue reading Babak Ganjei – Don’t Interrupt the Adults

Book Excerpts, Chinese Poetry, Japanese Poetry, Poetry

Snow Makes a Mountain

In addition to the volumes of essays and lectures on Zen and Zen practice, Dogen also expressed himself and his teachings through poetry. This particular verse, which reflects on a moment of realization in which the poet's mind underwent a profound perceptive shift, is written in a Chinese style. The translation is Philip Whalen and… Continue reading Snow Makes a Mountain

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

American Poetry, Poetry

I Am Not Seaworthy – Toni Morrison

Although Toni Morrison, who passed away yesterday, was primarily a novelist and an essayist, The Dewdrop was excited to find a short series of poems also penned by the author as a special contribution to the Black Mountain Institute. The five poems were printed back in 2002 for a limited edition letterpress that was released… Continue reading I Am Not Seaworthy – Toni Morrison

American Poetry, Poetry

Thinking of Wallace Stevens by Robert Bly

Picking up from last week's poem by James Wright that was written in honor of his friend Robert Bly, this week I'm posting a work by Bly himself that pays homage to another poet, Wallace Stevens. The simple imagery of Bly's poems conjure the verses of old Chinese masters, and echo the words of Wallace… Continue reading Thinking of Wallace Stevens by Robert Bly

American Poetry

There’s No Salvation in Elsewhere

'If nothing's here, nothing's there', writes poet Stephen Dunn about the instinct to believe that happiness is a place other than where we are, over the horizon, up in the sky, on the streets of a foreign city. If you are expecting to find salvation there, he says, all you'll find are reflections of the… Continue reading There’s No Salvation in Elsewhere

American Poetry, Poetry

Between Walls – William Carlos Williams

A pediatric doctor by training, Puerto Rican-American poet William Carlos Williams advanced his poetry by scribbling lines and ideas onto the notebooks of his medical profession. What grew out of this practice was a way of writing that was strikingly humane and attuned to the American vernacular. Between Walls is a simple poem that almost… Continue reading Between Walls – William Carlos Williams

American Poetry, English Poetry, Poetry

Following the Thread, Finer Than a Cobweb – Denise Levertov

Can we detect a guiding filament in our lives, like Ariadne's thread that led Theseus out of the labyrinth? Is there a constant that runs through this perpetually-changing existence that pulls us this way and that? What is the nature of that thread and where did it come from?┬áDenise Levertov wonders at its origins in… Continue reading Following the Thread, Finer Than a Cobweb – Denise Levertov

American Poetry

Naomi Shihab Nye’s Poem on Loss and Kindness

Victor Hugo's claim that 'Those who do not weep do not see,' is echoed here by poet Naomi Shihab Nye in her poem Kindness. Sorrow and grief will soften and open up our hearts, priming them for kindness and compassion in a way that's never quite possible before the experience of a devastating loss. Our… Continue reading Naomi Shihab Nye’s Poem on Loss and Kindness