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

The sky keeps lying to the farmhouse,
lining up its heavy clouds
above the blue table umbrella,
then launching them over the river. 
And the day feels hopeless
until it notices a few trees
dropping delicately their white petals
on the grass beside the birdhouse

poem

It wasn’t long before I rose
into the silk of my night-robes

and swilled the stars
and the beetles

back into sweetness—even my fingernails
carry my likeness, and I smudge

the marrow of myself
into light. I whisper street-

car, ardor, midnight
into

poem

Some women make a pilgrimage to visit it
in the Indiana library charged to keep it safe.

I didn’t drive to it; I dreamed it, the thick braid
roped over my hands, heavier than lead.

My own hair was long for years.
Then I became obsessed with chopping it off,

and I

texts

text
on Teaching Poetry
2014

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

text
Debates & Manifestos
2005

We read poems because they change us, and our reasons for writing them hover around that same fact. A poem, a good poem, speaks to and from a place that belongs to us—that elusive pitch of being some might call the soul, the psyche, the sub- or unconscious. We believe it’s there because we feel it working, but we’re powerless to tell it when, or how, or even why to work. Surely, as poets, most of us have discovered ways of "letting go" enough to embolden whatever it is that sends words and questions and inklings out from that space. And the best readers know that that place is where poems go when they hit us hard, teach us, reach home.

The Spanish poet, Federico García Lorca, named the keeper of that space the duende—daemon, hobgoblin, mischief maker, guardian of "the mystery, the roots fastened in the mire that we all know and all ignore." Unlike the Muse or Angel, which exist beyond or above the poet, the duende sleeps deep within the poet, and asks to be awakened and

text
Essays
1991

I celebrate myself
And what I shall assume you shall assume
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.

I loafe and invite my soul
I lean and loafe at my ease … observing a spear of summer grass.

 

If you put the thoughts expressed in these opening lines of “Song of Myself” into ordinary speech, they are rather flat and uninteresting:

I myself am what I am celebrating; and everything that I am, you are also, since you and I are both made out of the same materials I’m really taking it easy, lying around and communing with my soul, while I look at a blade of grass.

Whitman’s lines don’t rhyme and they have no regular meter. There must be other things about them that make them so interesting and suggestive and exciting to read. These things, of course, are the words and the ways Whitman puts them together. By looking closely at these words and uses, one may be able to get closer to the mystery of poetry, of Whitman’s in any

books

book
Poetry Book
2016
Then Come Back: The Lost Neruda by Pablo Neruda
book
Poetry Book
2016
Rival Gardens by Connie Wanek
book
Poetry Book
2012
When My Brother Was an Aztec by Natalie Diaz