Poem-A-Day

Poem-A-DayI’m on vacation this week so I’ve been writing a short post throughout this past week and scheduled it to publish this morning at 1000hrs EST. I hope you’ve all had a great week!

The homepage of the Academy of American Poets features a daily poem known as Poem-A-Day. The following description tells you everything you need to know about the program so I won’t belabor the point:

“Poem-a-Day is the original and only daily digital poetry series featuring over 200 new, previously unpublished poems by today’s talented poets each year. On weekdays, poems are accompanied by exclusive commentary by the poets. The series highlights classic poems on weekends. Launched in 2006, Poem-a-Day is now distributed via email, web, and social media to 350,000+ readers free of charge and is available for syndication. For more information about how to syndicate Poem-a-Day, contact poem-a-day@poets.org.”

I never knew the Academy published a book until I stumbled across this article. You can order the book directly from the Academy’s online store (recommended). You can also pick it up from several online retailers. The Academy’s website describes the book in a single, concise sentence:

“Inspired by Poem-a-Day—the original and only daily digital poetry series featuring over 200 new, previously unpublished poems by today’s talented poets each year with classic poems on the weekends—this new book includes poems by John Ashbery, Rita Dove, U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera, and many more.”

The description on Amazon.com is surprisingly more in-depth, though I don’t necessarily think it needs to explain the entire contents of the book.

“For 80 years, the Academy of American Poets has been one of the most influential and respected champions of contemporary American poetry. Through their successful Poem-a-Day online program, the Academy continues to celebrate verse by delivering poems to thousands of e-mail subscribers each morning. Now for the first time, the poems selected by the Academy for this program are available in book form so that they can be collected and savored.

Loosely organized according to the flow and themes of the seasons (for example, the month of February includes poems on love, lust, and heartache), this substantial volume is designed to encourage the daily practice of reading poetry. A thematic index is included so that poems can be sought out for popular occasions such as marriage, graduation, and holidays, or enjoyed any day of the year.”

I plan on picking this book up soon! For now, the Poem-A-Day column has introduced me to an incredible amount of new poets and styles. It has also inspired several of my own poems whether emulating the featured poem, responding to it in “conversation”, or picking it apart.

Keep writing!

Cheers,

Bryan

 

The Poem as Comic Strip

Poetry Foundation

In mid-May, while researching articles and poems about Ted Kooser, the 13th U.S. Poet Laureate, I came across some beautiful and unique pieces on The Poetry Foundation’s website.

I will not copy the jpgs or pdfs directly to this site for copyright reasons. Rather, I’ll post a few links to the content on The Foundation’s website. This link takes you to the original six articles which began with “The Poem as Comic Strip” and ran for a series of six articles each with different authors, artists, and poets. Fred Sasaki published a seventh piece entitled, “Poem as Comic Strip Redux”, which followed three years after The Foundation published the sixth article.

The editors of The Poetry Foundation commissioned six artists to comb through their archives of poems in the public domain and create comic strips based on those pieces. If you haven’t visited the archives, I encourage you to do so. I have spent hours jumping from poem to poem, poet to poet in the website. I’m betting you’ll find more than you bargained for and forget to come up for air! Online poetry archives are the next best thing to brick-and-mortar bookstores and I find poetry rabbit-holing is the most rewarding!

The six artists chose the following poems, in order of their appearance: Diane Wakoski’s “Belly Dancer”, Emily Dickinson’s “It was not Death, for I Stood Up”, Russell Edson’s “Of Memory and Distance”, Kenneth Patchen’s “The Snow is Deep on the Ground”, Ted Kooser’s “The Giant Slide”, and A.E. Stallings’ “Recitative”. You can find text versions of each poem in The Foundation’s archive through a quick search to go along with the picture and review the poet’s original vision.

These poems as comic strips remind me of Billy Collins’ animated poetry which you can find on YouTube. This link will take you to a playlist of nine videos including “Walking Across the Atlantic”, “The Best Cigarette”, and “The Dead”, three of my favorite Collins poems and accompanying videos!

I’m not an artist, but this would make a great exercise for any poem that strikes you. I can also see, rather than a writing prompt, a drawing prompt come out of this.

As always keep writing (and drawing)!

Cheers,

Bryan

Poetry 180

Poetry 180

Billy Collins, the 11th Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry founded Poetry 180 to promote poetry in schools. The program allows teachers and schools to print a poem every day for the 180 days of the traditional American school year to read and discuss with their students. Not only does it promote literacy, but it connects the Poet Laureate to an audience of young readers and introduces them to the world of contemporary poetry. Although Collins created the program for educators, it is free and open to anyone with an Internet connection.

Collins described the program, “A 180-degree turn implies a turning back — in this case, to poetry. The idea behind Poetry 180 is simple: to have a poem read each day to the students of American high schools across the country.” Personally, I would like to see Poetry 360, 540, or 720. (Those are actually skateboarding tricks, but they’re the first thing I thought of when I read “Poetry 180”)

The great thing about this list is that it isn’t your standard, run-of-the-mill classics you would expect. I’m surprised there are no excerpts from Shakespeare, but I’m sure teachers allow plenty of time to study the Bard of Avon through his plays. Collins designed Poetry 180 as a journey through both traditional and contemporary poems. It is meant to be an introduction to poetry for High School students, and, amusingly begins with Collins’ own “Introduction to Poetry”. I don’t recognize all of the names on the list, but I am excited to explore poets I am not familiar with! Some of the more notable poems are Theodore Roethke’s “The Bat”, Charles Simic’s “The Partial Explanation”, Robert Bly’s “Driving to Town Late to Mail a Letter”, Dana Gioia’s “Thanks for Remembering Us”, Howard Nemerov’s “A Primer of the Daily Round”, and more. I want to keep going, but I’d end up listing all 180 poems and continue listing my favorite poems and poems I want to read and poems I am inspired to write.

The list of poets here includes American poets and foreign poets, teachers, scientists, former U.S. Poets Laureate, and prize-winners of all caliber. Just a few more to check out soon are Ted Kooser, Mary Oliver, Denise Duhamel, Sharon Olds, Donald Justice, Stephen Dobyns, Kenneth Koch, Edward Hirsch, Ron Padgett, Wislawa Szymborska, and Tomas Tranströmer. Collins included several poets more than once and this is one point where I disagree with him. I wish he would have opted to include Sylvia Plath, Philip Levine, Charles Bukowski, William Carlos Williams, Ezra Pound, and others.

The series of pages on the Library of Congress’ website has a few great links. There is a list of all 180 poems, a link to read more about the program akin to a FAQ, a short post on how to read a poem out loud which is great for practice and in preparation for open mic events, and finally legal notices and permissions for the Poetry 180 program as well as for the full list of poems.

Keep writing!

Cheers,

Bryan

 

Juan Felipe Herrera, U.S. Poet Laureate

 

JuanFelipeHerrera.web-31
Juan Felipe Herrera from The Poetry Foundation

When I started writing this post, I had a different beginning and an entirely different direction for the writing. Rather than focus on a solitary interview with The Washington Post, I want to highlight more of the reading material available on the United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress. I thought it was cool that the Post interviewed U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera on March 2, 2017, but at 610 words including title and questions,it is a bit short in my opinion. The length makes for a quick read and that is one of the intents of the “Just Asking” section of The Post. Still, when it comes to poets, especially Poets Laureate, I want as much as I can get! I want to know what they’re thinking, where they get their inspiration, and what they are publishing next!

 

The best resource to learn about Herrera’s contributions as Poet Laureate is the Library of Congress’s website. Here you can learn about Herrera’s national project “La Casa de Colores” (The House of Colors) as well as three major projects he initiated during his appointment to a second term.

Two other articles of interest on Herrera’s tenure as Poet Laureate appeared in The New York Times and NPR. The Times published their article on June 10, 2015, and NPR published their article on April 12, 2017. NPR’s article featured five videos of Herrera reading his poems. Seeing and hearing poets read their work fascinates me. Poets come from all walks of life and it is cool to get a feel for how they interact with their work.

To learn more about the position of U.S. Poet Laureate check out the Library of Congress’ FAQ. One of the things I love about the distinguished poets is they each bring something unique to the position. From 2011 to 2016, Herrera serve as a Chancelor of the Academy of American Poets.

Keep writing!

Cheers,

Bryan

The Onion

onion_fb_placeholderThe Onion? America’s Finest News Source? Yes, that Onion, the parody news media outlet. Like so many of the articles and essays I have found about Poetry, I don’t remember exactly how I first stumbled across the story. But what does The Onion have to do with Poetry?

In June and July of 2016, I was taking a course called MCW640B Advanced Workshop in Poetry II through National University. At some point during the course, I found an article entitled: “Shadows Meet The Clouds, Gray On Gray, Like Dusty Charcoal On An Ashen Brow, Nation’s Poets Report.” What could be better than that? Poets as meteorologists, not so much predicting the weather, but describing it as only poets can. Of course the article is a parody, my favorite form of sarcastic writing. The article begins: “NEW YORK — According to a growing consensus of U.S. poets, shadows—inky sharp as a raven’s beak—meet the sullen bloat of clouds, their hues a pallid loam, each a dancer, each alone, like dusty charcoal on an ashen brow.” The sentences are poetic, though tongue-in-cheek, pieced together somewhat haphazardly, and hilarious! I don’t know if The Onion has any poets on staff, but they write some funny stuff, especially when they are making fun of my true passion. As poets and as humans we have to be able to laugh at ourselves.

I went back to The Onion‘s website recently to see if there were more. In a search for “poem,” “poet,” and “poetry” I found a total of 22 parody articles. There are seven full-length articles, and 14 short paragraph-length articles, and one obituaryesque death announcement. Additionally, there are a few brief “radio broadcast” news stories between two and five minutes each. Aside from the article mentioned above, the other six full-length articles are: “Bush Regales Dinner Guests With Impromptu Oratory On Virgil,” “I Could Write A Better Rubaiyat Than That Khayyam Dipsh*t,” “Maya Angelou Honored For Courage, Blackness,” “Nation Afraid To Admit 9-Year-Old Disabled Poet Really Bad,” “National Endowment For The Arts Funds Construction Of $1.3 Billion Poem,” and “Sappho Delights Crowds With Poetry.”

The death announcement from May 28, 2014 is “Maya Angelou, Poet, Author, Civil Rights Activist, And—Holy Cow—Tony Award–Nominated Actress, College Professor, Magazine Editor, Streetcar Conductor—Really? Streetcar Conductor? Wow—Calypso Singer, Nightclub Performer, And Foreign Journalist, Dead At 86”.

At times, the articles push the boundaries of propriety as in the death announcement of Maya Angelou. While May 28, 2014 was indeed the day Angelou passed and the announcement was intended to be humorous, maybe that wasn’t the best way to honor her. There is also the parallel between Luke Petrowski’s Hopeweavings and Mattie J. T. Stepanek’s Heartsongs. The former is the fictitious 9-year-old in an Onion article while the latter is the real-life poet who died at the age of 13 from dysautonomic mitochondrial myopathy. Not to make light of DMM, I think there may have been a better way to find humor in the situation. Perhaps The Onion could have selected a different subject, one that didn’t so closely resemble a real-life tragedy. Think about it, is there true artistic merit in the creations we praise, or are we too quick to praise art because of the tragic condition of the artist?

Keep writing and don’t ever take yourself too seriously!

Cheers,

Bryan

Blogging 2.1

Today I feel lethargic. Ugh. I turned in the first draft of my MFA Thesis on Tuesday and I am biting my fingernails waiting for a response from my professor. I wonder how much revision the manuscript will require before the board will accept and approve it. So today, with little to do, I am distracted my the work to come. I started a post several weeks ago and then published a separate post. Right now I have six unpublished posts I am drafting for the future.

I feel like a true blogger now. A few weeks ago I published my 25th post and received my 20th follower! The numbers are climbing. I’m reaching more and more people when these posts publish to my Twitter account, LinkedIn profile, and Facebook author page. In fact, I am up to 29 posts (30 including today’s) and 34 followers! I’m not a numbers guy and I’m not doing this for notoriety, but it is cool to look at the WordPress stats page and realize how far I’ve come. I’ve had 450 total views and 288 total visitors.

Last week I published a poem I wrote and linked it to my blog. I’ve linked my posts to other websites and WordPress blogs, but never circled around to myself. I’m starting to publish a substantial body of work and I feel great. This is therapeutic, but I am constantly reviewing my motives for publishing a blog. In the beginning I said that I would do this once I completed my MFA, but I couldn’t wait. I had a two-month break between classes and I was bored so I started exploring WordPress’s Blogging University which is an amazing and informational set of tools. I’ll need to refresh myself with some of the tools because all of the cool things you can do with a blog are perishable skills. I would love to design a blog from the ground up using more pictures and linked objects.

Reel it in, starting to ramble. This morning I was thinking how awesome it is to be a poet! I’m sure my wife isn’t happy about the mess, but I’ve got all of the most recent poetry magazines littered about the kitchen countertop. April 2017 Poetry, Spring/Summer 2017 Poet Lore, April/May 2017 Of Poets and Poetry, April 2017 Strophes, Spring-Summer 2017 American Poets, March/April 2017 The American Poetry Review, May/June 2017 Poets & Writers, May/June 2017 Writer’s Digest, and May/Summer 2017 The Writer’s Chronicle. I love to surround myself with inspiration and what better way to receive inspiration than with the freshest poetry and poetry news? I encourage you to check out these publications if you haven’t already.

Keep writing!

Cheers,

Bryan

*Of Poets and Poetry is the Florida State Poets Association bi-monthly newsletter. They are a member of the National Federation of State Poetry Societies. If you reside in the United States, think about joining your state’s poetry organization.

So You Want My Job: Poet

I’m figuratively kicking myself for not publishing this post sooner. I claim über busyness finalizing poems for my MFA Thesis and revising the project as a whole. But really I have no excuse. I want to publish one post per week and it has been two weeks since my last post.

To clarify the title of this post, I do not currently work as a poet. I would love to, but I have not pursued the prestigious, though unsung career of a poet. It took me a long time to even admit I am a poet. It took me longer still to admit in public I am a poet. Yes, I am a poet. It was hard to get the words out of my mouth for so long. This post is not about me.

This post is about some recent articles I read about brave folks who have taken that leap. First, the poet Jordan Chaney. Jordan was recently on the website Art of Manliness in 2012. The article I discovered was one of my most recent rabbit-holing spelunking excursions.

Art of Manliness is operated by a husband and wife duo. It is not a sexist site, nor is it strictly for men. There are plenty of articles presented that appeal to women. They describe their site as follows:

AoM is a blog about growing up well, aimed at men and their unique challenges and interests. We explore all things manly — from the serious and philosophical to the practical and fun. We seek to uncover how to live with grandpa’s swagger, virtue, and know-how in the present age by wedding the best of the past to the best of the present. The end goal is to create a synergy of tradition and modernity that offers men a way forward and signposts on how to live an excellent, flourishing life.

AoM runs a regular column called “So You Want My Job.” I do so much Internet rabbit-holing, I don’t remember what led me to this particular topic. I think I may have been looking at another article on Art of Manliness which led me to the “So You Want My Job” series, which led me to query “poet” in their search box. Waaaaaaaaay back on March 22, 2012, Art of Manliness published an interview for the series with poet Jordan Chaney working out of Kennewick, Washington. Mr. Chaney has a personal Facebook page as well as an author page as a career Poet. If you are interested in his life as a poet and how he survives as a poet, I encourage you to check him out.

I also recently started following another blogging poet named Katie Hale. It’s funny that I was going to post about the job of a poet because as I was putting this post together, I stumbled across Katie’s blog. On March 12th, 2017, she published a post entitled: . Recently Katie attended StAnza, Scotland’s International Poetry Festival, where she served as the festival’s in-house blogger. Sounds like an awesome responsibility! There, she attended an event called “Making a Living as a Poet” sponsored by the Society of Authors. Ken Cockburn chaired the event with poets Sarah Hesketh and Harry Giles offering advice and talking about making money from poetry. They offer a different take on the Poet as a lifestyle and not just because they reside “across the pond.”

I posted this partly because it is important to know what others around you involved in your craft are engaged in. You should maintain a constant dialogue with your craft. There is a larger conversation going on about poetry in the world. Every day there are new speakers, new opinions, new forms, new rules, et cetera. By “dialogue” and “conversation,” I don’t mean that you are physically talking with anyone. This conversation includes blogs, Facebook posts, Twitter, Instagram, anything to engage the world outside of yourself. Poetry is not dead, rather, there are exciting things happening in the world of poetry every day. You just have to open your eyes and look for them, open your ears and listen for them.

Keep writing!

Cheers,

Bryan