Wednesday, October 13, 2010

New poem from Tom Cullen

Tom Cullen, who was a student in this summer's Write by the Lake Habit of Poetry course, has a wonderful poem up at BellaOnline Literary Review or you can read the poem below. Congrats, Tom!

Before the Summer Concert

Tom Cullen

They storm the folding chairs early, in the late
Afternoon. Wearing black dresses and white vests
They clutch black cases to their breasts.
An orchestra gathers to play a date.
They unpack the instruments and fiddle
With sheet music, say hello, and drink coffee
Read the papers, eat chocolates and toffee
Horns honk, The geese fly to the middle

Of the lake. While the trombones and trumpets
Argue the key, the woodwinds whistle, and
Strings moan and sigh. People tote bread and wine
In picnic baskets and spread their blankets.
Up on the grandstand the baton in hand
A down stroke and the sounds Intertwine.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Exercise for the day

This blog was created primarily to help inspire you to make poetry a regular part of your daily life. Toward that end, I'll be sharing some of my favorite exercises for getting around writer's block. I've been thinking about my forthcoming book, The Alphabet Conspiracy, and the poems in it. The first one is an abcderian, a poem that uses the alphabet for structure--first line begins with or revolves around "A," next one "B" and so on all the way to "Z." My poem "Intercession" used the Patron Saints Index to create an alphabetical list of all the things there are saints for. You can do something like this, too. Take a book down from your shelf that has an index and compose your own abcderian using the items you find there (note, you might have to make something up for some letters, such as "X," but you're a poet--you can use your imagination).
Good luck! And if you like, post your poem in the comments field.
Happy writing!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Quote from a friend

My friend and former student Grant sent this quote to me today:
"True art selects and paraphrases, but seldom gives a verbatim translation."--Thomas Bailey Aldrich
I read somewhere that there is a man who is attempting to record every detail of his life. He writes all day, recording very little (because you can't do much if you're busy recording it all), and has amassed thousands of thousands of pages of very dull material.
Life doesn't hand us a poem; we select a poem from life.

Monday, June 21, 2010

War Poetry

I just came across this quote by Randall Jarrell: "The real war poets are always war poets, peace or any time." It reminded me of a discussion my class had last week at Write by the Lake on the perils of political or social commentary poetry. I'm trying to think of who might be our "real war poets" right now (and admittedly am a bit distracted because I'm proofing my manuscript).
Which American poets writing now do you think transcend the reactionary and resist simplifying complex political or social issues?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010