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Poets Possessed: Poetry of Channeling

Channeling Poets

Many poets claim an inspiration beyond their conscious mind as a vital part of their writing. This channeling of creative force manifests in a variety of ways—inspired by gods, God, aliens, deceased spirits, "something out there," or by a psychiatric condition.

Explore the varied tradition of poets' channeling—and what happens when the muse takes over.


Sylvia Plath

Plath's Ouija Board
The name of their usual spirit guide was Pan. He spelled out everything from his favorite poems to what Plath should name her children.

Nathaniel Mackey

Mackey's Dogon Elders
Nathaniel Mackey's serial poem "Mu" gives voice to the elders of the Dogon tribe of central Mali.

James Merrill

Merrill's Other World
Langdon Hammer discusses the promiscuous spirits of Merrill's channeled epic poem The Changing Light at Sandover

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