places offer footholds

October 9, 2019

Certain places are intrinsically tied to memory for me; they hold deep meaning and power. The ideas of “space” and “place,” both in terms of an actual physical location and the spaces our bodies occupy, are intermingled within the poems as a way to orient voice and the reader’s perception. These places offer footholds, in a sense. I find myself drawn to places of power on the earth: the ethereal, the mystical, the liminal. Places were myth was once born. The sea plays an important role in my writing, as well as the shrouded mystery of the mountains, such as the Ozarks. I’m hoping each place connects and crosses over each other in some way in these poems.

Tamara Jobe
Interview with H/M

we practice romance

October 8, 2019

I met my future husband at 19, and I wrote this poem in a notebook for him. By then it had already been echoing around inside me for years, telling me the truth about love. (Love is monomaniacal, love is appalling, love is secret, love is childish, love rips you from the bosom of your family, love is woozy, love is ravishing, love is scrumdiddlyumptious.)

I should probably feel embarrassed…but am unabashed. There are many fine poems about the grown-up parts of love, but it’s as infatuated teenagers that we learn romance, and as infatuated teenagers that we practice romance, all the rest of our lives. I don’t suppose a marriage could amount to much if it didn’t have a pair of infatuated teenagers hidden in it.

Ailbhe Darcy
The Irish Times 14th February 2018

The point is that we live right now in a economy where any half-witted sap can learn how to day trade. Compared to 5 years ago, the number of small press publishers has significantly waned. The combination of decreased grant opportunities, rising urban real estate, and the general NASDAQ marketplace, has contributed to the necessity of many of poetry’s most impassioned perpetuators to find full-time jobs. Market anxiety is very pertinent to the larger consumerist climate that we all live under. It makes sense that the EP’s [ Experimental Poets] want to win contests, have books published by larger presses, and have their pedagogical exercises applied to the general curriculum. But rather than complaining about economic marginality while simultaneously wanting to benefit from it, let’s critically engage with the larger facts of our social environment. Let’s figure out, as Carol Mirakove recently said, how to work within structures that aren’t prize/award/money dependent, and invent them if they don’t exist.

Kristin Prevallet
Why Poetry Criticism Sucks

writing poetry

September 30, 2019

I started writing poetry as a child. Just a few lines at first (with some funny rhymes, or at least I thought they were funny back then). I never really stopped for very long, but kept writing as a teenager, and on into what people think of as the adult years. I’m now old! and still writing. In my twenties the question of when one could call oneself a poet seemed important, and kind of anxiety-producing. But later I realized that the point is that anyone who is writing poetry is, by definition, a poet. If you keep writing, you get better at it…

I think of poetry more as what they used to call a “vocation” rather than as a job. That is, something you really want to do, and hope to have a talent for, and time. And something you can learn a lot about from others who also write.

Roo Borson
Interview with Poetry in Voice

We inhabit a deeply imagined world that exists alongside the real physical world. Even the crudest utterance, or the simplest, contains the fundamental poetry by which we live. This mind fabric, woven of images and illusions, shields us. In a sense, or rather, in all senses, it’s a shock absorber. As harsh as life seems to us now, it would feel even worse — hopelessly, irredeemably harsh — if we didn’t veil it, order it, relate familiar things, create mental cushions. One of the most surprising facts about human beings is that we seem to require a poetic version of life. It’s not just that some of us enjoy reading or writing poetically, or that many people wax poetic in emotional situations, but that all human beings of all ages in all cultures all over the world automatically tell their story in a poetic way, using the elemental poetry concealed in everyday language to solve problems, communicate desires and needs, even talk to themselves. When people invent new words, they do so playfully, metaphorically — computers have viruses, one can surf the internet, a naïve person is clueless. In time, people forget the etymology or choose to disregard it. We dine at chic restaurants from porcelain dinner plates without realizing that when the smooth, glistening porcelain was invented in France a long time ago, someone with a sense of humour thought it looked as smooth as the vulva of a pig, which is indeed what porcelain means. When we stand by our scruples, we don’t think of our feet, but the word comes from the Latin scrupulus, a tiny stone that was the smallest unit of weight. Thus a scrupulous person is so sensitive he’s irritated by the smallest stone in his shoe. For the most part, we are all unwitting poets.

Diane Ackerman
Language at Play

when I finally had the words

September 21, 2019

Poetry as an infinite series of veils. Poetry as gender in transition. Poetry as the years I spent not knowing myself and poetry as the years when I finally had the words. Poetry as the row of palm trees you drive past going anywhere on this coast: to home or school or church, to the border bridge or the island bridge. Poetry as the ocean or the family refusing to wrap its arms around you. Poetry as not knowing how someone will respond upon seeing you, as the moment your voice is heard, how intensely you are interrogated: whether an insult or a question or a gaze. I ask myself often, What have I done? and Have I lived a full life?

Jamie Berrout
Postcard Poems

assaulted by poetry

September 10, 2019

The task of being a poet is not completed at a fixed schedule. No one is a poet from eight to twelve and from two to six. Whoever is a poet is one always, and continually assaulted by poetry.

Jorge Luis Borges
Trans. Eliot Weinberger


September 10, 2019

You are pure poetry. I see you every day, over and over, and your poetry is unchanged – timeless and beautiful

poetry is like masturbation

September 6, 2019

I think that at a certain age, say fifteen or sixteen, poetry is like masturbation. But later in life good poets burn their early poetry, and bad poets publish it.

Umberto Eco
Interview with Lila Azam Zanganeh
The Paris Review summer 2008

texts of despair

September 5, 2019

Many poets develop a sense of positive loss, like Clarice Lispector, or Anna Akhmatova, in whose poetry we read of something never lost at the very bottom of loss, or Marina Tsvetayeva, in whose texts the stakes are something that she never had. Theirs are all texts of despair, that is, of hope. Elsewhere I have shown how the same happened in a much more novelistic way, fleshed out in the work of someone such as Karen Blixen.

Helene Cixous
Poetry passion and history: Marina Tsvetayeva
The Inscription of passion in writing (Chapter four)