Tag Archives: Poetry

In honor of What She Read’s Poem in Your Post Weekend Blog Hop, I offer you a poem I just found this week, courtesy of the amazing Jim Burke, who posted it on Twitter.

The Seven Of Pentacles

Under a sky the color of pea soup
she is looking at her work growing away there
actively, thickly like grapevines or pole beans
as things grow in the real world, slowly enough.
If you tend them properly, if you mulch, if you water,
if you provide birds that eat insects a home and winter food,
if the sun shines and you pick off caterpillars,
if the praying mantis comes and the ladybugs and the bees,
then the plants flourish, but at their own internal clock.

Connections are made slowly, sometimes they grow underground.
You cannot tell always by looking what is happening.
More than half the tree is spread out in the soil under your feet.
Penetrate quietly as the earthworm that blows no trumpet.
Fight persistently as the creeper that brings down the tree.
Spread like the squash plant that overruns the garden.
Gnaw in the dark and use the sun to make sugar.

Weave real connections, create real nodes, build real houses.
Live a life you can endure: Make love that is loving.
Keep tangling and interweaving and taking more in,
a thicket and bramble wilderness to the outside but to us
interconnected with rabbit runs and burrows and lairs.

Live as if you liked yourself, and it may happen:
reach out, keep reaching out, keep bringing in.
This is how we are going to live for a long time: not always,
for every gardener knows that after the digging, after
the planting,
after the long season of tending and growth, the harvest comes.

~ Marge Piercy ~



Filed under Poetry

Reading Poetry Challenge, Stage One

Cover of "The Wellspring: Poems"

Cover of The Wellspring: Poems

During April, I challenged myself to read a poem every day, with care, with the intention of selecting four favorites at the end of the month and then reading the four books from whence they came. This was part of my general poetry month activities, but also a greater need I felt to immerse myself in poetry, to find inspiration in what I saw, for myself as a teacher, writer and lover of poetry.

If that last sentence resonates with you at all, I would highly recommend taking on a similar challenge, because I thoroughly enjoyed mine. At the end of the month, I ended up with nine poems I had starred as my favorites, all from the Knopf Doubleday poem-a-day emails, which really offered a treasure trove of wonderful poems. I winnowed those nine down to six, which offered a range of modern classic authors (Wallace Stevens) to contemporary poets like Deborah Digges. Even just reading through them again was a peaceful respite on a gray Sunday afternoon, at a stressful point in the school year, though the poems themselves are not particularly restful.

Settling on the final four was harder; I read more about each poet and thought about my own gaps in reading, read some sample poems and reviews and chose two relatively quickly. Then a colleague who had also gotten the Knopf emails came into my classroom one afternoon to share how much one of my favorites had also touched her, so I added the third title. Finally, I added the fourth because of the joyful tone of the poem I had liked, because who doesn’t need a little more joy?

Without further ado, here are the four books I’ll be reading for this challenge:

The Wind Blows Through the Doors of My Heart: Poems, Deborah Digges
Selected Poems, Wallace Stevens
The Wellspring: Poems, Sharon Olds
Special Orders: Poems, Edward Hirsch

Upon further reflection and based on some of my choices, I don’t know that I’ll be able to do each book in a day, back-to-back, as Emily Gould did in her original challenge. I’ll review each book and post them, and then in a “stage two” entry, post about the experience of reading all four as the completion of my challenge. But like Laurie, I often read books of poetry in a more elongated way, so deadlines won’t apply as much here.


Filed under April Poetry Challenge, Poetry

Menu Poems

Instead of talking today about what I’ve been reading, I’d like to offer you something delicious to read: menu poems!

The 2011 Menu Poems are here! Each year, Alimentum issues a call for menu poems and then distributes their choices in select NYC restaurants, as well as making them available on their websites. They also welcome authors and readers to film themselves reading the poems, which are available on their YouTube channel.

I’m a huge fan of public poetry projects, but this year, I’m especially excited about this one because my poem, “A Hint From Your Server,” was chosen to be a menu poem! So please spend your lunch break (if you have one), reading these menu poems–I hope you find them both tasty and nourishing.


Filed under Poetry

National Poetry Month Is Here!

Poem in Your Pocket

Image by Susan Ujka Larson Collection via Flickr

Hooray, it’s National Poetry Month! How are you celebrating?

I am:

How about you?  If you haven’t decided yet, here’s a list of 30 ways to celebrate that should prove inspiring!


Filed under April Poetry Challenge, Poetry

Reading Poetry, and A Challenge

2006 National Poetry Month poster, designed by...

Image via Wikipedia

In honor of the upcoming National Poetry Month, I’ve got a few poetry-related projects percolating for myself in my writing and teaching lives, but what about my reading life?

You all know I’m a fan of Emily Gould, and she wrote a wonderful piece for the Poetry Foundation’s website recently about a challenge she set for herself, as an independent study in reading more poetry. She read a randomly selected poem from the Poetry Foundation’s website each day for 30 days, and at the end of the 30 days, she chose her four favorite poems from the month and read the books in which they were originally published, one book per day for four days. Read her essay if you want to hear more about what the challenge taught her about reading, poetry and language.

Technically, I already “read” a poem a day, because I get them sent to my inbox every day from the Academy of American Poets Poem-A-Day program, which I’ve subscribed to for at least a year, back when it was only possible during the month of April. However, I have to be honest and say that too often, I don’t actually read the poems with any kind of care or attention, but instead, let my eyes scan them quickly and then just as quickly move on.

So in April, I’m going to challenge myself to spend some time with those poems each day, even just for ten minutes a day. Then, at the end of the month, I’ll choose my four favorites and read the book in which they originally appeared, just as Gould did.

Do you read poetry for pleasure? If you want to play along with my poetry challenge, please feel free–I’ll be blogging about it again closer to April, and maybe even make it an official challenge, with Mr. Linky and everything!

For the curious: I’ve gotten a bit distracted from my existing challenges, as I stalled out in Julius Caesar and haven’t managed to make myself finish it while I got sidetracked with some other wonderful books. I’m determined to keep pushing forward, and after all, I’ve still got many months ahead in which to finish!


Filed under April Poetry Challenge, Poetry

My boyfriend, James Franco

James Franco at the 81st Academy Awards

Image via Wikipedia

If you’ve ever wondered whether James Franco could possibly be for real, with all his multiple-degree-programs and Ivy-League-ness and conceptual-art-though-soap-operas, then please read this amazing interview he did with Travis Nichols, all about his various ways of being an enormous poetry geek.

Are you swooning yet? I am.

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Filed under Poetry

Bookish Valentine

Tree decorated for Valentine's Day in San Dieg...

Image via Wikipedia

This year, I’m giving my husband a bookish Valentine: the first volume of memoirs by one of his favorite artists, Stephen Sondheim. Finishing the Hat: Collected Lyrics (1954-1981) with Attendant Comments, Principles, Heresies, Grudges, Whines and Anecdotes is supposed to be amazing, just as literate and hilarious as Sondheim’s best work. I’m so excited to see him open it!

I also posted a poem for him at my other blog, which I do every February, either for our anniversary or V-Day. It’s a simple present, in some ways, but he knows how much I mean every word, and I think it is meaningful to him too. I would love, one year, for that February poem to be one I’ve written myself, but so far, love poems are not in my poetic repertoire.

Tell me a bookish Valentine’s story, please, and I hope you’re having a wonderful day.


Filed under The Family That Reads