Author Archive

Thomas Lux: An Appreciation

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When Thomas Lux died on February 5th, I thought a lot about what made his poems so resonant. Although there are numerous craft elements I could point to, it seems to me that their central quality is so often a large-heartedness that is difficult to describe, but unmistakable to

The Unchanged Terrain of Muriel Rukeyser’s “The Book of the Dead”

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Last week, the House Freedom Caucus released a list of 232 regulations it recommends that Donald Trump overturn when he gets into office. The Caucus recommends overturning OSHA’s Silica Rule, which “engineers controls to keep workers from breathing silica dust.” Their reasoning? The rule “drastically impacts the construction industry.”

Against Solace: Interrogation in the Work of Three Trans Poets

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Lately, I have been thinking a lot about interrogating gender in poetry, and I’m especially interested in the work of three trans poets that use a wild arsenal of strategies to unsettle notions of gender and sexuality.

Douglas Kearney and the 21st Century Remix

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I was at a lecture recently about The Iliad—that beloved epic gorefest—when the scholar discussing the text referred to its author as “DJ Homer.” It wasn’t so much that Homer composed the text of The Iliad, he said. It was more that he remixed old stories that had been

So Much Depends Upon: America’s Most Misread Poems

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Over the years, I’ve distilled people’s reactions down to a core set of misconceptions about poetry. Some of the most pervasive: Poetry is overly difficult. It’s obtuse on purpose. It’s like a riddle. You need to read between the lines. It can mean anything you want it to.

Just Suppose: Poetry for Fans of Speculative Fiction

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Robert Heinlein, the prolific author of Starship Troopers and other sci-fi works, coined the term “speculative fiction” in 1947. In the essay, Heinlein defines “speculative fiction” as “the story embodying the notion ‘Just suppose—’ or ‘What would happen if—’.” For Heinlein, this narrative hypothesis creates “a new framework for

“Musings on Motherhood are Not Enough”: On the Perils and Joys of Parenting Poetry

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Recently I was looking at calls for poetry and I came across one that listed the editor’s preferences for the type of work that appealed to her. She listed the things which, in her mind, made a poem worthy of calling itself a poem.