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poet

Plane

Some poems percolate for decades, waiting to be born. My friend and baritone sax player Rick Countryman tells a story about working in a band that played behind an Elvis impersonator. When I heard this story, Rick and I were sharing a tumbledown house in Seattle that had no heat. In the winter, I’d open the stove and stand in front of it for warmth. This was the beginning of the presidencies of Reagan and then G.H.W Bush. Once I remember watching some African-American kids playing hoops. One...

I began “Ullage” one morning—almost all of my poems are written between 6 a.m. and 11 a.m.—in a darkened room, in a 250-page notebook I bought (one of several) at a paper store in Florence called Tassotti (sadly no longer there), a company founded by Giorgio Tassotti in Bassano del Grappa (Northern Italy) in 1957, having taken over the business from a firm called Remondini (flourished from 1657 to 1861). I had charged myself each morning to write, and if a poem appeared on the page at the...

We who are poets know that the reason for a poem is not disclosed until after the poem exists.

                                          —Thomas Merton

TO HISTORY—

You will not remember me.

And I will not remember...

How to Keep It Real When Everything Has Gone Wrong

Ladies and gentlemen, party people and displaced souls,

we’re now reluctant refugees of a scratch-and-dent world.

This moment would mimic countless others we’ve squandered

were it not for this impromptu sermon. We should know better

than to be reckless with the truth. Honesty is careless by nature,

a master of bad timing, a deadbeat father repeating his litany

of stillborn promises. You...

Coat Rack

“Every word was once a poem”[1]. Every poem was once an experiment. I’m a pragmatic man. I’m a test pilot flying a fountain pen. Testing the limits of honesty[2]. I was going to begin by saying “watch me pull a rabbit out of a hat” but that’s the sort of malarkey I’m trying to avoid, the stiff collar, cleverness of prose (should I apologize?).

There’s a theory that professes honesty is a requirement of writing. Poppycock! I’m being impetuous. I’ll test this theory with three...

Notes from the author: I am especially pleased to appear again in America's oldest literary review. With respect to my poem, "A Day in the Life", I want to express my view that poetry which does not take risks is of insignificant value. Having served as an editor and publisher for a decade, I came to believe a distinctive voice is the most prized attribute of any poet. Witness the...

For the second straight night, I had a basketball dream. I was playing in the Final Four. In my dream...

 

This poem was written quickly, in response to the murder of twenty young students and six educators by a deranged shooter at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, on December 14, 2012.  The world was horrified by this event; outpourings of grief dominated the news and social media; and like many people I felt a need to respond in some way,...

I taught the composing of poetry for thirty-seven years at the college. Here is a little note and a list I sent out before each class began.

Let's make poems for some real reasons to enter art—to bring worlds to one another that we otherwise would not have, to create a place where you are safe to be you, to give your inward self the care and validation it needs and deserves, to write in order to have moments IN the writing that bring to you what you most cherish, care about, that...

Chelsea Henderson's poem "Errata" won second place in the 2010 James Hearst Poetry Prize.

A note from the author: I wrote "Errata" the summer after my second year of college, a summer that was difficult and emotional in many ways.  I read Simic's "Errata"---which inspired my somewhat shameless take on his poem---and something about the emotional compression, the barely-muted desperation and longing, in his poem really struck me.  In writing "Errata," which I wrote in about 30 minutes...

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