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Dorothea Lasky
Dorothea Lasky

Promised Years

Recorded for Poem-a-Day, April 26, 2017.
About this Poem 

“This poem is from a chapbook I just finished called Snakes, which should be out from Tungsten Press soon. The poem is about despair and the chapbook is about evil. For a long time, I have been obsessed with the language of political speech, particularly oration, and how it relates to the language poets use to represent their times.”
—Dorothea Lasky

Promised Years

I would tell her
Except she wouldn't care
I'd write him
Except he'd never write me back
There is a rat they left hanging
I'd save it
Except it's dead
What is the force that swirls me
I asked of the wind
There was no reply
It was beyond me
And I was floating in it
Circles and circles
I've seen them throughout my life
I tried to answer them
They bled their mouths on me
Call me call me I begged of the moon
It did not listen
It had left me alone
So many years ago
And as the world collapsed
I mouthed the empty rhetoric of my time period
Call me call me
I begged of the wind

Copyright © 2017 by Dorothea Lasky. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 26, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2017 by Dorothea Lasky. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 26, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

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National Poetry Month 2017 Poster
Writing from the Absence
American Poets, Spring-Summer 2017
poem

Poetry

I, too, dislike it: there are things that are important beyond
      all this fiddle.
   Reading it, however, with a perfect contempt for it, one
      discovers that there is in
   it after all, a place for the genuine.
      Hands that can grasp, eyes
      that can dilate, hair that can rise
         if it must, these things are important not because a

high-sounding interpretation can be put upon them but because
      they are
   useful; when they become so derivative as to become
      unintelligible, the
   same thing may be said for all of us—that we
      do not admire what
      we cannot understand. The bat,
         holding on upside down or in quest of something to

eat, elephants pushing, a wild horse taking a roll, a tireless
      wolf under
   a tree, the immovable critic twinkling his skin like a horse
      that feels a flea, the base-
   ball fan, the statistician—case after case
      could be cited did
      one wish it; nor is it valid
         to discriminate against “business documents and

school-books”; all these phenomena are important. One must
      make a distinction
   however: when dragged into prominence by half poets,
      the result is not poetry,
   nor till the autocrats among us can be
     “literalists of
      the imagination”—above
         insolence and triviality and can present

for inspection, imaginary gardens with real toads in them,
      shall we have
   it. In the meantime, if you demand on the one hand, in defiance
       of their opinion—
   the raw material of poetry in
      all its rawness, and
      that which is on the other hand,
         genuine, then you are interested in poetry.

Marianne Moore
1919
collection

Classic Books of American Poetry

This collection of books showcases the masterpieces of American poetry that have influenced—or promise to influence—generations of poets. Take a look.

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A Poet's Glossary

Read about poetic terms and forms from Edward Hirsch's A Poet's Glossary (Harcourt, 2014), a book ten years in the making that defines the art form of poetry.  

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Point Reyes National Seashore
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Poetry as Insurgent Art [I am signaling you through the flames]

I am signaling you through the flames.

The North Pole is not where it used to be.

Manifest Destiny is no longer manifest.

Civilization self-destructs.

Nemesis is knocking at the door.

What are poets for, in such an age?
What is the use of poetry?

The state of the world calls out for poetry to save it.

If you would be a poet, create works capable of answering the challenge of apocalyptic times, even if this meaning sounds apocalyptic.

You are Whitman, you are Poe, you are Mark Twain, you are Emily Dickinson and Edna St. Vincent Millay, you are Neruda and Mayakovsky and Pasolini, you are an American or a non-American, you can conquer the conquerors with words....

Lawrence Ferlinghetti
2007
Mark Strand's "Cento Virgilianus"
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Gwendolyn Brooks: A Centennial Celebration

A Pulitzer Prize winner, an Academy Fellowship winner, and the first black woman appointed as consultant in poetry to the Library of Congress, Gwendolyn Brooks was—and continues to be—an outstanding voice in the world of contemporary American poetry. Brooks, who was awarded countless literary honors in her lifetime, was known for writing poems that captured a cross-section of everyday life in her hometown of Chicago. In sonnets, ballads, epic poems, and more, Brooks captured the lives, speech, and perspectives of people as varied as those she encountered in her city, and was particularly known for her interrogation of race relations and class.

This year marks Brooks’s centennial, and to celebrate, we’ve created this new collection of essays, audio, and poems by and about Brooks.