Author Archive

The Politics of Weather

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In the wake of the recently released report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which paints a direct picture of how our weather will change in the next few decades, it’s worth taking a moment to look at how poetry has, and is, handling climate change.

The Importance of the Difficult

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What is the role of difficult poetry? What does it do that more accessible poetry cannot do? And might it not have a political import?

Worker by Gary Hawkins, The Boss by Victoria Chang, and the Exploration of Work in Poetry

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If Hawkins’s workers struggle with their materials or the limits of their strength and stamina, Chang reveals a different antagonist through the figure of the boss, firing workers at will and propping up the corporation.

The Risk and Reward of “We” in Poetry

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Poems, Eleanor Wilner has said, are vehicles meant to circumscribe the boundaries of the self, but our individual imaginations are situated within politics and history. Use of the first-person plural, then, can open up the poem’s historical vision.

Two Views of Revision: Elizabeth Bishop and May Swenson

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If Bishop’s "One Art" shows a clear tightening and precision and a shedding of awkwardness into maturity, Swenson’s drafts show us that sometimes an artist simply makes a choice to fit a particular aesthetic preference or vision.

A Valentine to the Best American Poetry 1993

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Before social media helped readers discover poetry, the world seemed smaller. In the early 90s, when I was a preteen starting to figure out that not all great poets were dead, I had little to go on.

The Poet’s Manifesto: Three Ars Poeticas

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If there is an equivalent of the artist’s statement in poetry, it’s the ars poetica. Latin for “the art of poetry,” the ars poetica shows up as early as Horace, in 19 BC, and most poets since, it seems, have written at least one.

Memory and Metaphor in Mai Der Vang’s Afterland

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Many of us who love poetry think of metaphor as being somewhere in its DNA. Without metaphors, somehow, it seems, poetry would not be itself.

Learning to Love the Long Poem

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I’ve been wired since girlhood, by factors ranging from my Catholic upbringing to low self-esteem, to shrink, to make myself smaller, to avoid bringing attention to myself. Perhaps my comfort with small poems has underpinnings I should interrogate.

The Meeting of Spiritual Forces in Louise Erdrich’s Poetry

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While Louise Erdrich’s fiction investigates the devastating impact that Catholic missionaries had on traditional Ojibwe practices, her poetry collection, Baptism of Desire, investigates a soul that exists in the hybrid space where the two spiritual forces meet.