Broadsided Press

Broadside
The most recent broadside. “Thistle” Words by Jennifer Jean. Art by David Bernardy.

If you’ve never heard the term, a broadside is defined by Merriam-Webster as

(1): a sizable sheet of paper printed on one side (2): a sheet printed on one or both sides and folded b: something (such as a ballad) printed on a broadside.

I love when companies or individuals define a word with that word. Sure, a broadside is printed on a broadside! 🙂

Broadsided Press is a great literary magazine working to resurrect the broadside and keep it alive for generations to come. Their website provides a succinct summary for the history of broadsides as well as a nice “About” page explaining their humble, yet far-reaching mission of “putting literature and art on the streets”. One of the coolest things about Broadsided Press is that they offer 229 FREE broadsides for anyone to download, print, and display where they choose!

Check their submission guidelines here and if you have an account, follow them on Submittable.

The final thing I’ll say on this topic (for now) is the Library of Congress has a wonderful collection on broadsides. “Printed Ephemera: Three Centuries of Broadsides and Other Printed Ephemera” introduces the reader to broadsides, presents historical information, explains their intriguing history, and offers up beautiful examples.

Keep writing and challenge yourself to pair your poems with art! Find an artist or poet to collaborate with. Whether the collaboration is intentional or not, the results could be amazing. It’s not unlike ekphrasis.

Cheers,

Bryan

Tracy K. Smith, U.S. Poet Laureate

Tracy K Smith
Photo by Rachel Eliza Griffiths

Fellow poets, today, the featured poem from the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-A-Day series is Tracy K. Smith’s “Watershed”. One of my favorite parts of the series is the “About This Poem” section where the poet confesses their inspiration for the poem in question. Of ‘Watershed”, Smith says:

‘Watershed’ is a found poem drawn from two sources: a New York Times Magazine January 6, 2016, article by Nathaniel Rich entitled, ‘The Lawyer Who Became DuPont’s Worst Nightmare,’ and excerpts of the narratives of survivors of near-death experiences as catalogued on www.nderf.org.”

The Poem-A-Day series consistently inspires my own adventures in poetry as it exposes me to new techniques and perspectives. I have typically been slightly distrustful of found poems, but to look at them from Smith’s perspective is unique and exciting! Why not construct a found poem using pieces from several sources?

I went away this past week and when I came back, I was surprised to find a handful of news headlines announcing the selection of a new U.S. Poet Laureate. Not that I didn’t believe it, but I was intrigued. As far as I know, Juan Felipe Herrera recently entered his second term as Poet Laureate. I’ve been learning more about the position of Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress, but one thing I haven’t specifically looked at is the actual term of appointment. I knew Poets Laureate were appointed for one to two years, but I wasn’t clear on when the appointment officially began. I haven’t been able to find an official start date, but the Librarian of Congress’ article announcing Smith’s selection says, “Smith will take up her duties in the fall, opening the Library’s annual literary season in September with a reading of her work in the Coolidge Auditorium.”

On Wednesday June 14th, several outlets published articles announcing Tracy K. Smith’s selection as the 22nd Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress. The Academy of American Poets published a brief article. Dana Isokawa the associate editor of Poets & Writers Magazine published an online exclusive about Smith’s selection. Camila Domonoske published an article for NPR entitled “Tracy K. Smith, New U.S. Poet Laureate, Calls Poems Her ‘Anchor’. Several more outlets picked up the stories around the country.

I always return to The Academy of American Poets and The Poetry Foundation as my primary sources for all things poetry. The Academy’s resources on Smith consist of a biography, two articles Smith wrote, two additional articles written about her, and three of her poems including “Duende”. The Poetry Foundation has archived ten of Smith’s poems, a biography, and a four minute video from PBS’s NewsHour Poetry Series.

Reading through Smith’s bio, she is an excellent choice to succeed the current Poet Laureate. Among her honors, she is a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet and is currently a professor at Princeton University leading their Creative Writing program. Additionally, Smith wrote a short article for the New York Times’ “Does Poetry Matter?” series entitled “Wipe that Smirk Off Your Poem”. Yesterday the Academy of American Poets published a quick interview with Smith entitled “Four Questions for U.S. Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith”. The Poetry Foundation recently featured the newly selected U.S. Poet Laureate’s poem “Don’t You Wonder, Sometimes?” in an e-mail. She wrote the poem in 2011 ruminating on David Bowie and published it in Life on Mars through Graywolf Press. One final piece I would like to highlight is Renee H. Shea’s article “Far From Ordinary: A Profile of Tracy K. Smith” from the March/April 2015 Poets & Writers Magazine.

Considering her diverse background and the eclectic nature of past Poet Laureate projects, I am excited to see what Smith comes up with for her project.

Keep writing!

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