April’s Poetry Posting Wrap-up

In Celebration of National Poetry Month, I posted a poem to my Facebook page every day in April. I didn’t do any advance planning, just a quick internet search, sometimes on a particular subject, sometimes just visiting my favorite internet poetry haunts. With only a couple exceptions, every poem I posted was new to me, and I think It was one of the favorite things I’ve ever done on Facebook. Since these poems are soon to be buried in the inexorable roll of new posts, I’ve gathered all the links below in a kind of ad hoc and personal anthology.

Here are the poems posted for each day of April:

1. April by Alicia Ostriker

2. Barking by Jim Harrison — yes that Jim Harrison, who just passed last year.
3. Leaves by Philip Levine, U.S. Poet Laureate 2011-2012
4. An excerpt from Asphodel, That Greeny Flower by William Carlos Williams
It is difficult 
to get the news from poems
yet me die miserably every day
for lack
of what is found there.
5. Where the Tides Ebb and Flow by Lord Dunsany (check out his masterful micro fictions, too!)
6. The Cats Will Know by Cesare Pavese
7. Ode on a Grecian Urn by John Keats, inspired by this quote:

“If a writer has to rob his mother, he will not hesitate; the “Ode to a Grecian Urn” is worth any number of old ladies.” ~William Faulkner

8. A Light Exists in Spring by Emily Dickinson
9. America by Claude McKay, written in 1921, it feels grimly prescient today.
10. In the rap as poetry category here’s Taking Off by Clipping. BTW, their album Splendor and Misery is up for a Hugo this year.
12. Fantastic Breasts and Where to Find Them by Brenna Twohy. Yeah, you read that right. Feminist spoken word that’s funny with a sting at the end. Just excellent, scroll to the bottom for the video.
13. In the Airport by Eleni Sikélianòs

A man called Dad walks by
then another one does. Dad, you say
and he turns, forever turning, forever
being called. Dad,  he turns, and looks
at you, bewildered, his face a moving
wreck of skin, a gravity-bound question
mark, a fruit ripped in two, an animal
that can’t escape the field 

14. The world seems… by Gregory Orr
15. Old Mama Saturday by Marie Ponsot
16. A sonnet for Easter Sunday, 1985 by Charles Martin. The link includes some good commentary.
17. Monday by Billy Collins
18. Composed Upon Westminster Bridge by William Wordsworth, another sonnet (The Prelude is one of my favorite long poems.)
19. The Body by Marianne Boruch:

has its little hobbies. The lung

likes its air best after supper,

goes deeper there to trade up

for oxygen, give everything else

away. (And before supper, yes,

during too, but there’s
something about evening, that

slow breath of the day noticed: oh good,

still coming, still going … ) As for

bones—femur, spine,

the tribe of them in there—they harden

with use. The body would like

a small mile or two. Thank you.

It would like it on a bike

or a run. Or in the water. Blue.

And food. A habit that involves

a larger circumference where a garden’s

involved, beer is brewed, cows

wake the farmer with their fullness,

a field surrenders its wheat, and wheat

understands I will be crushed

into flour and starry-dust

the whole room, the baker

sweating, opening a window

to acknowledge such remarkable

confetti. And the brain,

locked in its strange
dual citizenship, idles there in the body,

neatly terraced and landscaped.

Or left to ruin, such a brain,

wild roses growing

next to the sea. The body is

gracious about that. Oh, their

scent sometimes. Their

tangle. In truth, in secret,

the first thing 
in morning the eye longs to see. 

20. For Women Who Are Difficult to Love by Warsan Shire
21. Catfish by Claudia Emerson (one of my favorite poets)
22. For Earth Day: Projection by Anna M. Evans 
23. The Song of the Ungirt Runners by Charles Hamilton Sorley. Written shortly before he was killed in World War 1. Follow the link to read about the poem and the poet.
24. The Hidden by Truong Tran
25. The Young by Roddy Lumsden
26. Algebra of the Sky by David Hernandez found in Copper Nickel, an excellent place to find new poetry.
27. Cry of the Loon by Kai Carlson-Wee. Check out Button Poetry for lots of great spoken word poetry.
28. Completely Friday by Luis Garcia Montero
29. The Fall of Rome by W. H. Auden. This poem is easy to find so here’s an excellent essay.
30. The Mushroom Hunters by Neil Gaiman, read by Amanda Palmer.

Useful and Necessary: April is National Poetry Month

April is upon us and it’s National Poetry month!

Lately, when I need a break from the news cycle, when I need to refill my emotional and artistic reserves, I’ve turned to poetry. I’ve blogged before about poetry’s usefulness here and here. Put simply, poetry interrogates our society and our humanity, it shapes our language and our world even if only a fraction of people read (very much of) it.

In keeping with my increased commitment to engagement this year, here are the actions I’m taking to celebrate poetry this month:


I subscribed to Poetry Magazine. Though, if money is tight their website has plenty to offer, or put their poetry spinner on your phone.


I am working on a poem/writing poetry for 30 minutes a day. I considered doing a poem-a-day challenge, but have come to realize that when writing prose or poetry, creating a finished project takes exactly as long as it takes. As someone who loves polishing prose and tinkering with the line, this really scratches my itch. I’m hoping that it will free me up in my prose work, especially when I need to push through a rough draft – that early writing that is so messy and ugly and necessary.

Feeling a little shy about diving back into writing poetry, I found Sharpened Visions: A poetry workshop, a lovely refresher/introductory mooc. (It just started, so not too late to join in. If you do, wave to me on the forums!)

I may never be a great poet, or even a good one, but it’s a practice worth any writer’s time. Poetry sharpens your eye to metaphor, image, and moment; it sharpens your ear to sound and lyricism.

If you want to try your hand here’s an exercise inspired by the Sharpened vision’s week one lesson 

Try inserting line breaks into a piece of prose: the opening paragraph from a famous novel, a newspaper article, or an insufferable interoffice memo…

For this, I used one of the Tiger Oil Memos from Letters of Note.

Here’s my try:


On days you have to work,
And you think you should be

you wear slouchy dress attire.

That will not occur

In the future. You

Will wear proper
Dress attire to work

Always. Also, all employees

should have the proper attitude to
Coincide with proper
Dress, Especially on those days

When you’re working and
Think you should be

Read Futile the Winds on Medium

Martian sunset. Photo Credit: NASA/JPL

What do Emily Dickinson and Mars have in common? This story. Futile the Winds previously appeared in Interzone, but since that is print only, I decided to put it up on Medium so that y’all can read it.

I came upon this poem towards the end of writing the first draft, and it guided my subsequent revisions. For me it is deeply, if somewhat invisibly itegrated with the final version of this story.

Wild nights – Wild nights!
Were I with thee
Wild nights should be
Our luxury!

Futile – the winds –
To a Heart in port –
Done with the Compass –
Done with the Chart!

Rowing in Eden –
Ah – the Sea!
Might I but moor – tonight –
In thee! 
P.S. I blogged about the way Kij Johnson used Shakespeare’s sonnet 116 in her excellent story, Spar. Scroll to the bottom of this post to see what I thought.

Already the ides of April! And it’s National poetry month

See more blackout poetry here!
I love poetry, and this year I’ve started writing it again. Perhaps you’ll see some of it on this very blog one day. While I tinker around reacquainting myself with verse and rhyme, here are some poetry resources, because this month isn’t over yet!
Of course you can read some actual books, 
like IRL. Here are the ones I’m working on.


WATCH: Pixels

To find poetry readings, see if there is a local or regional poetry organization where you live. Check out your local college English department, and of course, your local brick-and-mortar bookstores.
If you want to try something more casual, check out a poetry slam. These events often take place in bars. These are a friendly competition where poets read or recite their own original works and are judged by the audience. Energetic and emotional, these are often poems of protest, but anything goes. The form has its detractors (mostly among poets, natch), but I find them vital and fun and think it’s definitely a form worth checking out. Find a listing of poetry slam events here.
If you’re feeling flush, check out the gorgeous Elegy for a Dead World game, available for both PC and Mac. I haven’t tried it yet, so here’s a review.

  • Complete a poetry madlib over at Language is a Virus
  • Or check out this often hilarious Haiku generator
  • To play IRL, buy some actual fridge magnets for your actual fridge buy multiple sets. Leave poetic messages for spouses, children and siblings…
  • Ohmygosh! There’s a SciFi magnet

  • Check out these poetry prompts on Tumblr.
  • Every April, NaPoWriMo hosts a poetry writing challenge and celebration. Join with other intrepid poets to write a poem a day for a whole month.

Haiku me

A little cuckoo across a hydrangea by Yosa Buson.

The time from Halloween through the first of the year is always busy and full of family commitments — and all the joy and holiday cheer that goes along with it. 

Keeping up with the writing, say nothing of this blog, is a bit of a challenge. Lately it appears that my story-writing draft/rest/revise/finish cycle has been biting me in the ass. I find myself with a dearth of time and an excess of UNFINISHED stories. I’ll be looking to that in the next weeks.

Here are some haikus about it. 

While story drafts are resting
New stories are born
Now, so much unfinished work.
Writing in bits and pieces
Sentences and scenes
Must fit in between errands
Sentence by sentence
These tales and their characters
Will be brought to “The End.”


More for Your Ears

Lady Reading by Robert James Gordon

It’s always nice to sell a story, it’s a special treat to sell one to a podcast. For years now, I’ve enjoyed listening to the written word as much as reading it. I discovered audio books and podcasts when my kids were little, and my sitting-and-reading time almost entirely disappeared. Conversely, I spent lots of time on mundane tasks like laundry and driving to and from endless errands.*

I found audio books first, on disk, at the library. I dug up my dorky old CD player and it’s dorkier neoprene jog-belt carrier and started listening to books. There’s an art to sweeping the floor and listening to a book, a different kind of focus. But, if you’re busy with the banal jobs of keeping body and soul together, the house clean, and the kids diapered, it’s an art definitely worth mastering. 

I load books onto my iPod now (which is getting old and I suppose one day will be dorky too). I also stay current by listening to just a few of the hundreds (thousands? Millions?) of podcasts out there. I’ve listed some of my favorites previously, here are some new ones that I’ve added to my feed.

Cast of Wonders
And not just because they produced my story! There’s a nice selection of excellent stories here as well as links to the Camp Myth novellas. Just because they call themselves a “young adult” podcast, doesn’t mean us grownups can’t listen to them too.

Toasted Cake
Another Parsec Award winning podcast run by author Tina Connolly. This one specializes in flash fiction – like a little dessert for your ears.

This excellent weekly speculative fiction magazine podcasts selected fiction and poetry read by the talented and satin-voiced Anaea Lay

Once a month the fiction editors at the New Yorker ask a writer to read one of their favorite stories that has been published in the magazines pages. This is followed by a brief discussion of the story. Good stuff for writers!

A free audio show covering the latest in science news. Once a month they read a flash fiction story from the print journal’s Nature Futures feature.

One of my favorites. Produced by The Poetry Foundation, this podcast features one or two poems followed by a short discussion. Always lovely and useful.  
Go forth and listen!

* When I think back to my college days, I remember spending entire afternoons with friends at our local hole-in-the-wall bar where we would all complain that we didn’t have any time!