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.



Propping his tripod, Hine remembers
     Childhood snowfall in Wisconsin,
            Flakes careening in prairie wind,

A red sleigh skimming a frozen lake,
     Curlicued breath-mist of two dappled drays.
            But this is a blizzard of cotton dust

From the

What makes a nation's pillars high
And its foundations strong?
What makes it mighty to defy
The foes that round it throng?

It is not gold. Its kingdoms grand
Go down in battle shock;
Its shafts are laid on sinking sand,
Not on abiding rock.

Is it the sword? Ask the red dust
Of empires

Once, I knew a fine song,
—It is true, believe me,—
It was all of birds,
And I held them in a basket;
When I opened the wicket,
Heavens! They all flew away.
I cried, “Come back, little thoughts!”
But they only laughed.
They flew on
Until they were as


Poetic Terms/Forms

verbless poetry: Poems without verbs. On one hand, the verbless poem can create a static quality, a sense of the arrested moment, which is why it has appealed to poets who write haiku and other types of imagist poems. For example, Ezra Pound’s defining imagist poem, “In a Station of the Metro,” consists of fourteen words without a verb. It juxtaposes two images without a comment, suggesting rather than stating the relationship, and in the process freezes a moment in time. Here is the version that first appeared in Poetry (April 1913):

     The apparition  of these faces in     the crowd :
     Petals  on a wet, black bough

On the other hand, the verbless construction can give, as the linguist Otto Jespersen points out in “The Role of the Verb (1911),” “a very definite impression of motion.” That’s why verbless constructions especially appealed to the futurists, such as F. T. Marinetti (1876–1944), who eliminated verbs in order to create a sense of telegraphic

on Teaching Poetry

There are, I think, two very different dynamics involved in the making of a poet. One is learning that you already know everything you need about writing before you even begin. The other is an extended reading of the literature, to understand what has been done, why, and what its implications might be.

The first sounds easy, but is in fact the harder of the two tasks. Many starting writers never solve the problem at all, which means that they’re destined to fail. The difficulty is what happens in that instant between the moment before you even begin and the moment once you’ve begun, into which is inserted every vague notion you may have about what writing is, how it is done, who does it, and every conceivable fantasy you might harbor about being a poet or a novelist. Before you begin, the blank page or screen is in front of you, absolutely free of any irrevocable marks, literally virgin territory. Once you begin, however, you instantaneously discover yourself burdened with

from American Poets

In recent years, I’ve found that some of the most compelling and exciting poems I’ve encountered are those by American poets of color, and many of them LGBT. These poets have stepped into an arena of a true democracy of voice, often publishing their first works, sometimes a chapbook of poems, with little known and/or regional presses. Many of these poets want to explore not only gender identity but also the sexual transgressions that make a culture doubly nervous; these concerns are often coupled with issues of race as well. One especially notable, though admittedly high profile, example of this is Eduardo C. Corral’s book, Slow Lightning, selected by Carl Phillips (his own recent poetry a superb example of the sexual transgressions I’m noting) for the 2012 Yale Younger Poets Prize.

Let me now introduce to you another wildly compelling young poet, one who has not yet published a full collection—Saeed Jones. His chapbook, When the Only Light Is Fire, was published in 2011 by


Please Excuse This Poem, edited by Brett Fletcher Lauer and Lynn Melnick
Poetry Book
The Weary Blues by Langston Hughes
Poetry Book
Selected Poems by Keith Waldrop