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Browse thousands of biographies of poets and poems, essays about poetry, and some of the most important books, anthologies, and textbooks about the art form ever written. Looking for something specific? Use the search bar above.



Never, never, never, never, never.
—King Lear

Even now I can’t grasp “nothing” or “never.”
They’re unholdable, unglobable, no map to nothing.
Never? Never ever again to see you?
An error, I aver. You’re never nothing,
because nothing’s not a thing.


It’s true there were times when it was too much
and I slipped off in the first light or its last hour
and drove up through the crooked way of the valley

and swam out to those ruins on an island.
Blackbirds were the only music in the spruces,
and the stars, as they faded


What people don’t know about my name
is that my grandmother gave me that “k”
                       —my very own unexpected
                       those two strong arms and two strong legs,
that broom-handle spine—
                       that letter about


Poetic Terms/Forms

In April 2014 A Poet’s Glossary by Academy Chancellor Edward Hirsch was published. As Hirsch writes in the preface, “This book—one person’s work, a poet’s glossary—has grown, as if naturally, out of my lifelong interest in poetry, my curiosity about its vocabulary, its forms and genres, its histories and traditions, its classical, romantic, and modern movements, its various outlying groups, its small devices and large mysteries—how it works.” Each week we will feature a term and its definition from Hirsch’s new book. 

letter poem, epistle: A kind of letter in poetry. The verse epistle, as it was once called, is a poem specifically addressed to a friend, a lover, or a patron. In his Epistles (20–14 B.C.E.), Horace established the type of epistle poem that reflects on moral and philosophical subjects. In his Heroides (ca. 25–16 BCE), Ovid established the type of epistle poem that reflects on romantic subjects. They are fictional letters from the legendary women of antiquity (


Open Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. Some of the poems are short, others long, but they all have long lines.

Long lines are oceanic. They wash over you like waves, one after another, each of them full of shells and sand and fish and surfboards, sometimes pieces of wrecks and the bodies of sailors. The long line is more conclusive and inclusive than the partial, subdivided short line. If short lines are like quick pants, long lines resemble great, deep breathes.

That’s how I present long lines to students at first, as units of breath. I tell them, “Take a deep breath, then as you exhale, make up your line. When you take a new breathe, start a new line.” sometimes the long line will resemble a long sentence; other times it will look like a short paragraph. I try to demonstrate extemporaneously: I take a dramatic deep breath, then try to exhale some words that sound like poetry: “Outside it’s raining and I suspect that the roof is leaking. Oh no! It’s falling on that boy’s head


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You compose first, then you listen for the reverberation.

—James Fenton


While poetry remains as the primal foundation for my visual and literary work, I’m constantly analyzing its relationship to my ‘mixed-media’ identity, and I like Carrie Mae Weems’s words, “Sometimes my work needs to be photographic, sometimes it needs words, sometimes it needs to have a relationship with music, sometimes it needs all three and become a video projection.” There are endless creative decisions for each of us, linked to our needs as human beings.

As a poet who is also a photographer and painter, I find myself perpetually challenged by meditations on my blurred insider-outsider role as well as the tail-chasing dialectic of Subject-Object and Other. For me, poetry and photography, as mediums, exist as persistent spaces of discovery, shock, pleasure, risk, and joy. These spaces also contain voices, which can be intense, inaudible,