poem index

poems & poets

Search over 2,500 poet biographies, over 7,000 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
I crawl along the wet floor
Of my mother's childhood,

A serpent, or a long-buried secret,
In my mother's bisque
Chiffon gown with small stars

Stitched in silver, a crown
Of tinsel pinned into the dark
Blonde knots and dreads of my hair.

I follow a sequin thread of dead
Things, stop when
poem

        For Nicole and John


     She drew a name full of winning flesh,
Victory, I mean, so that any Yes she has to say
     We might say is a Yes achieved happily all her own—

And he drew a name large as any god,
     Large

2
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.

texts

text
Poetic Terms/Forms
2015

A form derived from the abecedarian is the acrostic, which spells out names or words through the first letter of each line. The intent of the acrostic is to reveal while attempting to conceal within the poem. William Blake addresses the despairs of the plague in the poem "London," telling the reader how he listens to everyone’s pain while wandering along the Thames River. Blake uses an acrostic in the third stanza to emphasize the horrifying sounds:

How the Chimney-sweeper's cry
Every blackning Church appalls;
And the hapless Soldier's sigh
Runs in blood down Palace walls.

A recent example is Anna Rabinowitz’s Darkling. This book-length acrostic sequence investigates her family's Holocaust experiences and uses "The Darkling Thrush" by Thomas Hardy for its structure.

read more acrostics

text
on Teaching Poetry
2000

An Introduction to Langston Hughes

In Langston Hughes’s landmark essay, “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain,” first published in The Nation in 1926, he writes, “An artist must be free to choose what he does, certainly, but he must also never be afraid to do what he must choose.” Freedom of creative expression, whether personal or collective, is one of the many legacies of Hughes, who has been called “the architect” of the black poetic tradition. He is certainly one of the world’s most universally beloved poets, read by children and teachers, scholars and poets, musicians and historians.

Langston Hughes became the voice of black America in the 1920s, when his first published poems brought him more than moderate success. Throughout his lifetime, his work encompassed both popular lyrical poems, and more controversial political work, especially during the thirties. He expressed a direct and sometimes even pessimistic approach to race relations, and he focused his

text
Poetic Terms/Forms
2014

stanza: The natural unit of the lyric: a group or sequence of lines arranged in a pattern. A stanzaic pattern is traditionally defined by the meter and rhyme scheme, considered repeatable throughout a work. A stanzaic poem uses white space to create temporal and visual pauses. The word stanza means “room” in Italian— “a station,” “a stopping place”—and each stanza in a poem is like a room in a house, a lyric dwelling place. “The Italian etymology,” Ernst Häublein points out in his study of the stanza, “implies that stanzas are subordinate units within the more comprehensive unity of the whole poem.” Each stanza has an identity, a structural place in the whole. As the line is a single unit of meaning, so the stanza comprises a larger rhythmic and thematic sequence. It is a basic division comparable to the paragraph in prose, but more discontinuous, more insistent as a separate melodic and rhetorical unit. In written poems stanzas are separated by white space, and this division on

books

book
Textbook
2015
book
Textbook
1998
Sing the Sun Up
book
Poetry Book
2015
Once Removed by Elizabeth Bradfield