poem index

poems & poets

Search over 2,500 poet biographies, over 6,500 poems, as well as essays about poetry, and some of the most important books, anthologies, and textbooks about the art form ever written. To search by keyword, use the search bar above.

poems

poem

Mother’s crimson leather bags
Crammed with saint cards
And tiny glass bottles of liquor.

The bright stitch
Of God’s final coming.

Dirt and dregs, silt and stars.

The sweet song
Of poverty

Rinsing through me
Like the memory
Of a dream.

poem

What you have not done
is without error. What you
have not said is beyond contradiction.

What you understand of God
was yesterday. Today a bicycle
waits, chained to a bench.

The success of this afternoon’s nap
is the dream of lifting seven boxes,
your

poem

We rinse the glasses
from which we will drink

affordable whiskey
with scotch or absinthe,

my love and I, the less than
a swallow left of good

liquor scenting the whole
cocktail. What intoxication

we afford each other
cannot be excess or impure.

texts

text
Essays
2008

I

I write because I would like to live forever. The fact of my future death offends me. Part of this derives from my sense of my own insignificance in the universe. My life and death are a barely momentary flicker. I would like to become more than that. That the people and things I love will die wounds me as well. I seek to immortalize the world I have found and made for myself, even knowing that I won't be there to witness that immortality, mine or my work's, that by definition I will never know whether my endeavor has been successful. But when has impossibility ever deterred anyone from a cherished goal? As the brilliant poet and teacher Alvin Feinman once said to me, "Poetry is always close kin to the impossible, isn't it?"

My aim is to rescue some portion of the drowned and drowning, including always myself. For a long time my poetry emerged from and was fueled by an impulse to rescue my mother from her own death and from the wreckage of her life, out of which I

text
Essays
2014

One

Poetry that speaks to the enduring and irreversible coordinates of human fate—love, striving, fear of pain, hope, the fleeting nature of things, and death-leads us to believe that the poet is one of us, and shares in that fate. "We," the subject of such poetry, is determined neither by nation nor by class. But it would not be quite right to claim that its theme is therefore an eternal human nature, for as our consciousness changes, we humans try to confront ultimate things in new and different ways. In Wislawa Szymborska's poetry the "we" denotes all of us living on this planet now, joined by a common consciousness, a "post-consciousness," post-Copernican, post-Newtonian, post-Darwinian, post-two-World-Wars, post-crimes-and-inventions-of-the-twentieth-century. It is a serious and bold enterprise to venture a diagnosis, that is, to try to say who we are, what we believe in, and what we think.

Two

Szymborska's "I" is an ascetic "I," cleansed not only of the

text
on Teaching Poetry
2014

One evening, after my course on Asian North American literature, I struck up a conversation with two students. One of them asked what else I was teaching that term, and I responded that I was teaching contemporary poetry. This produced quite a divergent response:

  “I would never take that class.”
  “I would love to take that class!”
  “No way. I hate poetry.”
  “What’s wrong with poetry?”
  “I don’t know. It doesn’t interest me. It’s just too difficult. I feel like I can’t get a handle on it. It’s harder to get what you need out of it.”
  “Really? I think it’s easier. There’s so many things you can talk about—tone, structure, imagery, style...What, are you interested in plot?”
  “Yeah, I guess so.”

Teachers of poetry will no doubt find this argument familiar. In Asian American literature, however, the student who dismissed poetry enjoys the backing of professional Asian American literary critics. Like my poetry-loathing student, Asian

books

book
Poetry Book
2016
Then Come Back: The Lost Neruda by Pablo Neruda
book
Poetry Book
2016
Selected Poems by Keith Waldrop
book
Textbook
1998
Sing the Sun Up