Tag: poems

The Dangers of Attachment

Weekend before last I received a rejection for a poetry submission I’d sent in less than two hours before. It burned me more than a little. The journal in question is not known for its quick turn-around and its speed made their reply feel definite – like cement. This was different than a rejection from a journal committed to fast replies. Quick rejections from journals known for quick judgments aren’t personal, even if they return in a day, or two, or less.

With those journals – the speedy ones – there is almost something gleeful about the rapid smack-down of artistic hopes. I’ve submitted to the Journal of Compressed Creative Arts twice now. Those editors get back to their supplicants – sorry, submitters – in three days, max. Maybe it helps that their truck and store is short poems – how long can it take to assess the quality of four or six lines? I’ve taken to sending them, almost masochistically, poems so compressed they could fit on a straw wrapper. On a straw wrapper, torn in half.

My little witticisms, which exist mostly as commentary on brunch, amuse the hell out of me. However, it’s hard to imagine anyone else would take them very seriously.

Brunch Poem

                                     for the bartender

The toast

is gross.

These I expect to be rejected.

Perhaps that begs the question – why submit them in the first place? Why submit at all?

Brunch Poem II

                        a response


the brioche.

When I was studying poetry in undergrad, I had the unfortunate appearance of someone who shared her poetry to hear others say they liked it. This was because occasionally, (weekly,) I’d be struck by some rhythmic impulse and scrawl off a moderately-successful mostly-poem, and become smitten. So smitten, so enthused, I’d rush to share my latest, greatest invention, ready to read it out loud to any friend around who’d listen. I was often convinced the last thing I’d written was my best. Because I was enamored with each poem I then thrust upon my roommates, workshops, and professors, it seemed I shared for compliments. Because I was impressed with myself and my writing, it seemed I expected the same out of everyone I so enthusiastically subjected to my burgeoning verse. (It is very obvious when I am excited about something.)

The truth was that I wanted haters. In “On Writing,” Stephen King advises his Dear Readers to kill their darlings. He’s stolen this advice, he knows, but that doesn’t diminish its value. I knew that I was in love with each recent creation in part simply because it was new. As I wrote more, I began to suspect that affection. The more I loved a poem, the more I wanted someone to show me what was wrong with it. I knew my feelings blinded me to my flaws, and also that that awareness could not counter-weight my bias. I shared my best poems with those I admired because I wanted to tear each poem down, to make it better. I wanted to learn. It seemed clear that the way to do that was by reducing my work into rubble, learning its weak spots, and rebuilding.

Alas, I think I seemed insufferable. Unbridled enthusiasm has that effect. I didn’t realize how I came across.

Even today, in my dotage, I find deep and perverse pleasure in hearing those I admire rip apart nouns I previously cherished. I heartily encourage, and bask in, intellectual take-downs of books or movies I fear I like too much, without good reason – sometimes, with certain caustic, opinionated, sharp-tack friends, I straight-out solicit their arguments and anaylsis against whatever piece of entertainment I suspect I love without reason, or thought, or examination. I want to hear what is wrong with things. I distrust overt, unwarranted affection for TV series, or arguments, or poems. Call me an anti-fan girl. There’s a weird joy, with black wings and twisted fingers, that follows eager behind righteous snubbing of mass-market culture and media. I am better because I can articulate why Game of Thrones is trash. Hating Malcolm Gladwell means I exceed those would-be armchair pop-psychologists who’ve read and love “Blink.”

But what keeps the smug off, for the most part, I think, is how I seek to learn from those I regard. How I choose to turn the microscope, sometimes or even often, on objects whose dissection may cause me pain. I considered Neil Gaiman’s “American Gods” stellar literature for many years before I read a friend’s well-build wrecking machine of an opinion that really, nothing happens in the novel. Later I read “Neverwhere,” and its holes glared. It is easy to take down what you already hate. It is important to take down the rest.

When we discuss the things we love, instead of blindly loving them, we begin to be able to assess whether that love is merited. We learn how to discern between true artistry and cotton-candy fluff that looks good, tastes good for a moment, and has no lingering substance but sticky-fingered regret felt in our stomach and thighs. Don’t just kill your darlings. Autopsy them. Study their corpses.

A literary journal’s form rejection, whether within an hour or ten months, does not tell much. It is no blueprint to show where seams are weak and walls want insulation. As a dismissal, rejections are barely useful except as ego-check, and to remind us emotional attachment must be tempered with reason.

If you are never rejected, you never ask the right questions.

As creators it is impossible for us to know which of our beautiful, pale darlings holds the strength in its plum fists to beat upon the world. Our capricious attention dismisses what enthralls others. Devon taught me this: your opinion of your work does not matter, especially in regards to submission and rejection. What matters is the others.

At first this makes submission feel futile. But, in a calm gray twilight beyond the frustration of no good choice, this truth wedges open doors. When it doesn’t matter if you love a poem, you can send off any of them. You can keep dispassion in the thing. You can shrug, and beat yourself against the sill of the world until, during your incited unconsciousness, someone tiptoes around you to raise the sash. Do not love your poems, but push them off and fight to leave. Maybe, in time, some wild, dark, and iridescent creature will take pity on you, and let you them out.

“They Won’t Hurt You. They’ll Re-Structure Your Brain:” Sleeper Poems

In the entertainment industry, a “sleeper” hit is a movie which does not initially perform well, but accumulates crowds and interest as it continues to play in theaters. Presumably, no one in marketing anticipated the film in question to amaze. However, it impresses its initial viewers enough that their excitement or enjoyment of it creates a word-of-mouth, grassroots sort of encouragement to see the film. While in general the phrase refers to theatrical runs, it can apply to more expansive periods of time as well – though if the period is extended enough, the movie may be a “cult classic” instead of a “sleeper hit.” More broadly, the term can apply to any item or fad which was not initially hyped but became a surprise consumer success.

Today, I share three of my personal “sleeper” poems. Initially, I was not taken with any of the set. However, as time passed, I found myself returning to each poem, perhaps for a specific turn of phrase, or to read again how exact its imagery was, or to hear the poem come alive out loud and fully realize its rhythm. One, even, was a poem I lost and searched for over years until I found it again, a handwritten copy on small notebook paper, tucked in with a letter I never sent. I will let you guess which is that.

The first poem is one of the first poems with which I experienced the sleeper phenomenon. It’s really an excerpt from a very long poem called “The Desk,” by Marina Tsvetaeva. I first heard it while listening to a Poetry magazine podcast. I’d selected the podcast for its title, an excerpt from this portion of “The Desk”: “you with your olives, me with my rhyme.” The phrase piqued my interest immediately. But for whatever reason, the poem didn’t wow me at first. I suspect that only listening to, and not also reading, the poem, may have played a part – I tend to favor text over audio. I was disappointed the poem as a whole didn’t live up to the line that had grabbed me. However, as time passed, I found myself thinking of it again and again. I was haunted by “you with your olives, me with my rhyme.” I read (and re-read) the poem online, and listened to it on the podcast again as well. Meanwhile, my interest in Tsvetaeva grew and I began to explore her history and some of her other works. It dawned on me that I really enjoyed and admired the power of this excerpt of “The Desk.” I hope that you do, too – but if not at first, give it some time.

Much earlier in life, on a college midnight, I trawled the internet for poems. I don’t know if I was in search of anything more specific – perhaps I was researching multi-cultural poets – perhaps not. I stumbled across a lovely little poem by Adam Zagajewski, “For You,” and was captured by it. I liked it enough to hand-copy and hang on my wall. As I moved over the years, the poem moved with me. But small papers are wont to be lost or tossed when you move per annum, and thus, somehow, I lost the poem. I searched for it online to no result. Although I was fairly certain of the author (after a couple of clicks around Wikipedia to be sure) I couldn’t find anything under the title, or anything more than reminiscent of, “For You.” Every once in a while I would try to hunt it down and, after hours, fail. It turns out I was either on an extremely esoteric poetry website that night or the original post I saw was taken down. The poem had proven so obscenely elusive because it was barely extant online. Finally, one day, while rifling through some box I’d moved multiple times but not unpacked, I found a handwritten copy of “For You”. I was thrilled and this time, I copied it digitally, so as not to lose it again. As it is, the poem is posted on approximately two webpages (one of which is Pinterest). Here is a link to the other.

James Arlington Wright’s “Hook” closes out my sleeper selections. I was introduced to “Hook” in the most traditional way; a college poetry course. One of the painstakingly handsome, intellectual anti-Bukowski would-be-Bukowskis of the group read it out loud, I’m pretty sure. Although a pleasant enough memory, it’s “Hook”’s imagery that brings me back time and again. I find myself visualizing the narrator and young Sioux at their bus stop in the snow, the Sioux with his one hand and one silver hook. I have a clearer mental image of that scene than I often do while thigh-deep in the throngs of most novels’ descriptive passages. “Hook” speaks with an immense stillness, one which leaves an impression long after its reading is done.

It’s good to remember that poetry can surprise us. It’s nice to imagine that poems may even lure us in, slowly captivate their audience with well-tuned lines that linger in the brain, or play a long flirt with memorable rhythms and expressions that act like poetic hooks, earworms. It also strikes me that poetry, and poems, can be grown into. It may take time for us, or any reader, to fully appreciate the craft of a given poem, or to relate to the experience it exhibits. And it is fun to consider the opposite: what poems have you grown out of? What poems might find their way back to you?

Neither poetry nor life exists in stasis.

Poems As Invocation, Incantation, Spell

Since time immemorial, poems have been used to communicate with things and spirits of the beyond. Prayers and hymns have no other purpose, and can easily be considered a poetic sub-class, with their frequent uses of rhyme, regular meter, and supplication? There are much older incantations than the Lord’s prayer. And, if words and format help entreat the holy, it follows that such methods work with the infernal as well. It would not surprise me if incantations, invocations, and spells were among the first forms of poetry. They constitute a single class of variant methods to reach beyond our present and the tangible environment.

Typically, here I would rejoin with poems which I feel typify these forms. I would showcase, perhaps, a curse poem; an invocation of higher or lower power (perhaps the god of poetry or a lesser demon) recently published by a journal I admire; a poem whose intent was to work some kind of esoteric, small magic (beyond, of course, the magic of words).

But it is nearly Halloween. As such, it is time for the lighthearted, and the weird. As a result, I thought it would be fun to discuss horror movies that demonstrate the power and ubiquity of poems that act as magic. I also thought it would be fun to encourage you, O Best Beloved, to whip out pen and paper, or sit behind spooky, back-lit keyboards, and whip up your own wordy potions for dark, bat-wing nights.

Incantations may only present for a few seconds or minutes in these movies, but they dominate in their power to bring hell upon the poor souls to speak them. Joss Whedon’s “Cabin In The Woods” exemplifies the trope of a young fool or innocent who unwittingly speaks out loud a curse in a foreign or strange tongue that brings hell down upon the naïve youth and their party. In a different manner, the villain of the popular “Nightmare on Elm’s Street” movies, Freddy, has his own special theme poem: it begins “One, two, Freddy’s coming for you,” and features promptly in several movies of the series. And in the classic horror film “Rosemary’s Baby,” the coven led by the Castevets attempts to invoke the devil himself with a group chant.

Other magic poems abound. In “Hocus Pocus,” Bette Midler’s character and her two sisters join together for a short rhyming poem that successfully transforms another character into a chant. In the original “The Omen” (which I must heavily recommend over the re-make), an evil priest predicts that “When the Jews return to Zion/and a comet rips the sky,/and the Holy Roman Empire rises,/then you and I must die.” This is far from the only predictive poem featured in scary movies.

The truth is verse is everywhere, and versatile. I love exploring the more casual, ubiquitous uses of poetry in the modern world, and Halloween is a great time to focus on the esoteric styles of poetry that, frankly, have been with us for longer than written history – or so I posit. I recommend you check out some of these movies, or at least check in on Halloween, when I’ll post a recording of one of the most famous witchy poems of all: the Witches’ Chant from Macbeth.

Have a haunted evening.

October Audio Poem #1: The Raven, by Edgar Allen Poe

The first time I heard this poem was in fourth grade. Of course, it was October, and the librarian at my elementary school was into October, Halloween, bats, cobwebs, the whole nine yards. This is entirely appropriate dressing for libraries. How many horror movies feature scenes in libraries – villains stalking victims through the stacks, the terror of any given corner? The potential for creepiness is great.

For me, with a birthday on Halloween, such features are only bonuses. In fact, the whole month of October is a bit of a bonus for me, as I can indulge in my naturally-somewhat-morbid proclivities and dial dark humor to the utmost. As a result, I thought it would be fun to celebrate with a very light-hearted month of blogging. There will probably be more posts than usual, on subjects such as “What literary character can I be for Halloween?” and “What are the best horror movies featuring poems?” I will be sharing more audio than usual as well – because what’s better than a scary poem or two, in the October night?

At any rate, I hope you enjoy. We have much to look forward to, you and I, before the end of the month, and for me another year.

Click through to listen, or click the image above.

Poetry’s For The Birds

I’ve been wanting to write this post for a long time. Almost as long as I’ve been writing for this blog, in fact. I have “bird poems” on blog-idea-lists from over a year ago. 

A while ago I’d noticed, you see, that poets seem to have this thing ­with birds. Birds show up all over poems. And what started to get to me was that almost every time a bird showed up in a poem, it was this transcendent, beautiful, flying, gorgeous fictionalized concoction of a creature. The bird was breathtaking. The bird was symbolic. The bird could not be killed, or evil would overtake your ship and crew and make you a social pariah, doomed to re-tell the terrible story for eternity. (Thanks, ht) Clearly, in the poetic canon, fowl were sacrosanct.

I love subversion. So I set my sights on birds.

You see, last August I sat through four hours of legal training. The training took place on the top floor of a building in which I don’t usually work – up on 14. I’m not good in meetings. Terrible attention span, me. So when a giant black bird with the widest trowel beak landed on the nearby roof and began flapping and grooming, I was fascinated. I was especially struck by the bird’s grotesque ugliness; the awkward way it hopped from tile to tile, how its feathers stuck out, odd and uneven. It struck me that the common representation of birds in poetry is idealistically inaccurate. Up close, most birds are anything but regal.

I think poets use birds to represent an ultimate grace or quality we cannot grasp. There’s something romantic about hollow bones. When in flight birds exude effervescence, embody liberty – but consider, also, how little there is to trip over, airborne. There is an unconsidered reality in poetry surrounding birds that I think should be explored with all the glee that comes with trope reversal.[1]

At any rate, I wanted to highlight three bird poems that break past their ubiquity. As usual I chose to eschew classics, in part for their role in creating the current feathery paradigms – but I provide links to some of what I consider essential bird poetry at close-of-post. Here, I’d like to discuss somewhat more current selections that fit my taste. Without further ado, I present three poems that feature those mortal winged creatures of air and light.

In Charlotte Boulay’s “Murmuration,” from her book “Foxes on Trampolines,” the potential to descend into romanticism is averted via concrete, stream-of-consciousness narration. Boulay’s narrator describes birds, yes, but instead of a single specimen the poem treats a flock of birds as the unit it becomes in air, as the group practices pinpoint swoops and signaling to perform as a functional whole. In ways, the flock’s movement recalls the inaccurate characterization of lemmings as pack creatures that follow so blindly as to run over cliffs – but precise unity is necessary to avoid midair collision. murmuration

Late Valentine

from the NPR interview with Dean Young here

We weren’t exactly children again,
too many divorces, too many blood panels,
but your leaning into me was a sleeping bird.
Sure, there was no way to be careful enough,
even lightning can go wrong but when the smoke
blows off, we can admire the work the fire’s done
ironing out the wrinkles in favor of newer ones,
ashy furrows like the folds in the brain
that signal the switchbacks and reversals
of our thought and just as brief. Your lips
were song, your hair everywhere.
Oh unknowable, fidgeting self, how little
bother you were then, no more
than a tangerine rind. Oh unknowable
other, how I loved your smell.
- Dean Young

Dean Young always reminds me of birds. As it turns there are fewer birds than I remember in his book, “Fall Higher,” but this poem contains an important one. “Young Valentine”‘s narrator’s lover is a bird embodied, first as she emotionally “lean[s]” to him, then physically: the “fidgeting self,” “no more than a tangerine rind” – light and flitful, a being full of “song.” As the poem progresses, the narrator’s regret becomes clear, and the depiction of his former lover as something so other than human, the epitome of uncatchable conveys his past love’s ephemeral nature well.

In “As Children Know,” by Jimmy Santiago Baca, birds appear twice – first a blackbird as scene setting, then an atypical presentation of the narrator’s heart as bird, a metaphor whose strength deepens if one considers that a heart is housed within the cage of one’s ribs. Elegant indeed! The Red Bird is a wild counterpoint to the narrator’s orderly outer image, and the motif of birds as innately uncontainable repeats as the Red Bird “thrashes” against structure, longing after other personified elements of the earth and Native American mythology that appear within the poem. apache poet

Birds in poetry are deeply symbolic. Humans have long been fascinated with, and envious of, their ability to soar, dart, and dive far above us. Although we imitate flight, ours will never be as innate or seem as graceful. To us, birds represent, in many ways, the impossible. Is it any wonder we, especially writers, surround ourselves with them, putting them where we don’t even realize until after the fact?

Additional Reading

Bird-Named Literary Magazines
Sixth Finch
Heavy Feather
Corvus (no longer operational, but check out back issues)  [2]
Barn Owl Review

Essential Bird Poems
Leda and the Swan – Yeats
13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird – Stevens
Linnets – Levis
To A Waterfowl – Hall  (Previously discussed here)
The Writer – Richard Wilbur (Listen to me read it here)
Save the Candor – Amit Majumudar  (Previously discussed here; listen to me read it here)


1: I experimented with bird poems for a while as a result of this. I am proud to say that “Birds Vol. 2″ will be published by Cider Press Review at a coming date.

2: Full disclosure, I have previously been published in Corvus and am sad to see they are defunct.

Poems Are Easy Cuz They’re Short

Recently, I was at a book club meeting – yes – and one of the members made what was intended as a light, passing joke on dead dogs and poetry. (A future blog post.) “I have a theory,” she said, leaning towards some member of the audience more inclined to get the joke than I was, “that poetry is full of dead dogs because that’s all you can get out of a relationship with a dog -  a poem!”

The joke was that dog/owner relationships are shallow, I guess? And that poems, because of their brevity, are as well. My book club was quick to point out the plethora of literature associated with dogs and, often, their deaths: Old Yeller, the Call of the Wild, Shiloh, Where the Red Fern Grows, and White Fang, among others. I mentioned See Spot Run. (I may not have been entirely serious.)

But what bothered me about the joke was not the implication that dog/owner relationships are inch-thick, but that poems are. This person had made a Cardinal Sin that many authors have made, to be fair. I’ve even written about Neil Gaiman’s opinion in this blog post here. I suppose it is easy to dismiss poetry because it is not overwhelming in length. To be sure, poems are no Les Mis – just as, I’ve said before, a sprint is not a marathon.

I suppose that in a way our own educational system has raised us to believe that because something is short, it is easier. An exam may consist of many multiple-choice questions, or a select number of short-answer, or one long essay question. But this is as much in deference to the recipient – the teacher who must grade these answers – as in recognition that longer, free-form work takes more time to complete. We prefer tests of 10 questions to those of 100 – even though, statistically, we may be preferring the less-wise option. After all, it is easier to pass a test of 100 questions than 10. One can get 20 questions wrong on a 100-question test and still get a B. With ten questions, only two can be wrong in order to obtain the same grade.

It strikes me it is much the same with poetry. In novels and longer works, an author has the liberty to make more mis-steps with less notice. With a poem of ten lines it becomes glaringly obvious if a metaphor is out of place, and very difficult to hide even a single poorly chosen word. In a book of 100 pages, it is highly unlikely anyone, be it reader, author, or editor, will focus with that degree of detail on the diction. As a poet, when I am asked to review other people’s prose, I find myself nit-picking single word choices even if the overall statement the author makes still comes across relatively clearly. I obsess over small details. I recognize this and curtail it when my opinion is asked, because I know that’s not what someone wants when they’re writing an essay for a college course or something similar. However, it is a skill I have developed because I work in a craft where not a single syllable or metaphorical thread can be out-of-place without someone noticing.

Saying “poems are easy because they’re short” is like saying “short tests are easier because they’re short.” Sure, it is easier to take the test. It is easier to read a poem. But it is a lot harder to pass muster in both.

Three Poems From Journals You Should Be Reading (Resolutions Part II)

You’ll have to bear with me a bit here. I’m going to pontificate.

In this day and age poetry is everywhere. Underneath the right rocks, good poetry abounds. Often, though, the trouble comes when one tries to identify which rocks to pick.

In this Internet, self-publishing age, anyone can be read. It’s a boon and a bane; poets are no longer forced through an interminable, biased vetting process. Good poetry can be immediately accessible. Unfortunately, the bad is equally as prevalent. Without a peer review process any schmuck can slap their collection of half-assed sonnets onto Amazon and start marketing. Any brilliant, avant-garde artist pushing the poetical boundaries can do the same. The question becomes – how to “sift through the darkness for the word, the line, the way”(Bukowski)? If one does still desire publication through traditional means, how does one identify the journals that are worth the submission, and those that may tempt future embarrassment?

In my dream world, popular bibliophile website Goodreads has a poetry section. You could put in the last poet you’d enjoyed and suggestions would spit out. If you like Louise Gluck you should check out Patrizia Cavelli. If you liked Bob Hicok, it would tell you to explore Brian Turner. Frank O’Hara? Kenneth Koch, and so on. The fantasy includes a web-like diagram of poetry books. Each book and author would be visually linked to related works by threads. This would create a network of poets that any given author was influenced by, or that said author influenced; that wrote in the same style, era, or school; or those that explored similar topics or tropes. I imagine the simplicity of discovery, the ability to easily explore related works and writers that my theoretical spiderweb would provide – when I cannot sleep I trick it out with additional features, allow users to add reviews, links, and suggestions, build a forum off to the side for additional discussion and in which any use of lazy spelling or blatantly incorrect grammar would result in a user’s automatic and unceremonious temporary ban (instead of counting sheep I decide that three such transgressions within a given, as-of-yet undetermined time period could incur a permaban). It would be wonderful. I am a martinet.

Practically, however, I lack the ability to execute this dream. In the meantime the internet is a wild morass, a free-for-all of words, an alphabet soup to which any literate person can contribute. A boon, as I said, and a bane. The poems of middle-schoolers and MFA grads live side-by-side these days, and you can’t always guess whose is whose for quality. So as a result, today I’ve decided to highlight three journals whose work you should check out, by presenting three poems.

I love Sixth Finch. As far as I can tell, they’re not associated with any school or press except themselves. The online journal was established in 2008 and publishes some astoundingly impressive poetry. It is slightly unusual in that it is a journal devoted only to art and poetry – you’ll find no prose here. I deeply encourage you to read Sasha Fletcher’s “A Shipwreck!” which is full of dark, slightly-surreal imagery mixed with capital-letter messages. It is the end lines of this poem I really love, and I refuse to spoil them. This is a longer poem, but please – check it out, and then stay awhile on the website. Poke around. Matthew Fee’s three Theories in the recent episode are nice, too.

The Citron Review is another consistently good poetry source. Andrea Jackson’s poem “Guardian,” from nearly a year ago, maintains its power through brevity. The Citron Review, like Kenning, is published on WordPress – literary magazines are not uncommonly hosted here, although the original format was intended for blogs. It’s run by an impressively sized group of writers who are clearly working off of devotion alone, which is as wearing as rewarding, some days. Check out Jackson’s poem – it’s brief enough to be worth the time investiture. I’d encourage you to bookmark the main journal page and revisit it, when you are starved for poetry and want something new.

This poem, in The Bad Version, is absolutely heartbreaking. It’s called “Dissertation: Aphasia” by Sarah Matthes, and as with Fletcher’s poem, the hit really comes in the last few lines. I have loved it for a long time, in no small part because I can relate to it on a personal level. The Bad Version is yet another great journal that is welcoming to new writers, but continues to publish work of impressive quality. It’s not associated with any school or press either – these are the small journals I’m talking about, the ones without, necessarily, impressive faculty or names backing them, but that are run on passion and an eye for quality.

If your New Year’s resolution was to read more poetry, or if your every day resolution is the same, bookmark these journals. Read their free back issues and circle back when they update. If you’re looking for a place to submit, they should be worth your consideration as well. In the meantime, I hope – you always – enjoy.

A poem by James Valvis




I do not admit to these poems,
this one or any others.
Don’t try to pin on me
all this flapdoodle.
Something else wrote them,
a thing out of my control.
I don’t admit the inferior poems,
and even the ones that are pukka.
See what I’m saying?
I would never use the word pukka.
Has anyone heard me?
When writing a letter, do I write pukka?
When making dinner, do I say pukka?
That’s a word you only find in poems,
pukka and flapdoodle.
I’m telling you I’ve been framed,
by some poem-writing jerk
who lives inside my aching fingers.
Pukka this, flapdoodle that.
Oh, how he wants to work in ‘orgulous’!
What a pain in the pantoums!
All this funambulism, this telling it slant.
I don’t know why
he doesn’t just ask you
for whatever it is he wants,
which is almost certainly for you
to love him. Or, as it were, love me.

Lights out!


Okay. I’m hooked on blackout poems. Aren’t we all? These short and sometimes gut-wrenching poems by creative mastermind Austin Kleon are just what I need to inspire my own creativity. (I started thinking…if you can blackout poems…you can blackout WHOLE BOOKS!!!!! And then you can TAKE OVER THE WORLD. Well, not really the world. But the book. You can take over the book. Kleon’s poems are taken from newspapers, books, and random pieces of literature so blackout poems can be created from virtually anything. In addition to his huge success with his blackout poem book, Kleon is also the author of  the book titled Steal Like an Artist, which includes little notes to help people “steal like an artist,” sort of in the same vein as “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” by Robert Fulghum. I’d love to get my hands on a copy of this book so I can read it, hug it, and then (double) blackout the pages to create my own poems. What are some forms of poetry that you’ve seen that are pushing the boundaries?