Poetry

New Arrivals for National Poetry Month 2014

Nat'lPoMo Poster 2014It is perhaps no accident that National Poetry Month always begins on April Fools’ Day. Poetry is a foolish thing. It, more than prose in all its various forms, assumes it can draw a bead on, and ultimately make some kind of meaning (no matter how fleeting) from the messy and provisional stuff that is life in the 21st century. It is foolish because for nearly everyone but poets themselves, it has become an object of derision, and worse—indifference.

Yet, the world continues to spawn poets. Why? Because, I think, human beings, when you look at them in their best possible light, are fundamentally seekers. W...

Seamus Heaney (1939 - 2013)

cover art: Electric Light by Seamus HeaneyThe Nobel laureate, Seamus Heaney, had the great good fortune to be born in a place that values poetry in a way that most Americans cannot imagine. He was an honest-to-goodness celebrity in his native Ireland, not perhaps on a Bieberian scale, but solidly, unostentatiously famous nonetheless. Right around the time he accepted the Nobel laurels, he became something beyond the poet and teacher he started out to be. He became a sage, a go-to quote-maker on the Big Questions of the day, and I think to some extent he relished those extracurricular roles. I know he was awfully good at them.

It's...

Family Curses: When Writers Beget Writers

I am the luckiest of fathers and have been since the beginning. If any newborn can be said to be calm, it would have been our daughter. Even factoring in a big honkin' dollop of paternal bias, she was pretty much perfect. She didn’t even cry much, and the crying she did seemed almost perfunctory, as if she only wanted to assure us she had a superior set of lungs. Her personality hasn’t changed much since those first moments of life. She has grown up to be a remarkably poised and intelligent young woman. It seems like all my wife and I had to do...

Can't Sleep? We can help: Documentaries about Poets

cover art poetry in motionIt would take a genuine, back-slapping-swimming-pool-blue-sportcoat-and-shiny-white-loafers-with-matching-belt-wearing used car salesman with 90 proof snake oil coursing through his double-thick Teflon-coated veins to convince most folks to read a blog on this particular subject—I'm talking some mutant mix of Tony Robbins, the late Billy Mays and LBJ in his arm-twisting-brow-beating-Uncle-Lyndie-with-a-lollipop-cooing prime.

This is a subject so fearsomely, so ostentatiously, dull that if your eyes are not by now rolling up into your head like slot machine tumblers you should think about a career as a statue. The very thought of documentaries about poets is so baroquely and perversely boring as to produce uncontrollable yawning...

Words in the Air: Poetry on Audio

Caedmon in stained glassAs most of us know, listening to poetry is nothing new. Poetry started out in the audio format. Rhyme and meter and many other poetic conventions were essentially mnemonic devices to help itinerant poets keep the story going so that they might earn a place by the fire for the night. Back then, a poet couldn’t read his stuff off the page making minimal eye-contact with the audience like we do now. For one thing, until relatively recently, there were no pages to read off of. For another, after getting conked on the head by a flying tankard or turkey leg hurled by some philistine in chain mail, poets figured out it paid to keep their hands free and their eyes peeled.

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Scary Monsters, Super Creeps: Poets Behaving Badly (or Not).

When Nosferatu's ShadowRimbaud was introduced to the leading lights of Parisian poetry, he managed to alienate dang near every one of them within minutes. After the group's tres gentile dinner, each poet stood and read his verse aloud. Rimbaud listened more or less politely for a time, then pronounced each man's poem...um...not good. Actually, he used a scatological term more appropriate to the barnyard than to a literary salon. That it turns out his assessment was by and large correct, makes it no less rude.

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Fire and Ice (But Mostly Ice): The Poetry of Robert Frost

Cover Art: The Early Poems / Robert Frost“Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening” and “The Road Not Taken” still hover near the top of any list of America’s best-loved poems. Frost’s hard-eyed New England practicality, craggy jaw, snow white hair, and the singularly apt surname to go with them represent in many people’s minds everything an American poet should be—none of those twee, beret-wearing types for us!--It doesn’t hurt his continuing popularity that he worked in forms as solid and stolid as New Hampshire granite.

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Natasha Trethewey Named U. S. Poet Laureate

US Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey, courtesy of Wikipedia CommonsPulitzer Prize winning poet Natasha Trethewey has been named the 19th U. S. Poet Laureate. She succeeds Philip Levine as the country's guardian of, and cheerleader-in-chief for the genre.

Trethewey is the author of four books of poetry and a collection of creative nonfiction. In addition to the Pulitzer, her honors include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowm...

Writers in the Schools’ Poem A Day Project Comes to HCPL’s Facebook Page

Writers in the Schools A Poem A Day BannerMaybe it’s because their sense of wonder has not been tamped down by too many peeks behind the wizard’s curtain, or maybe it’s because their language has not been clogged up with convention and cliché. Whatever it is, children and teens seem to have a felicity with poetry that adult poets can spend their careers trying to recapture.

Writers in the Schools (WITS), a local nonprofit organization, actively encourages children (K-12) in over 350 area classrooms to develop those skills. Each April, WITS celebrates National Poetry Month by sharing some of the students’ work with the community through its Poem A Day project. We at Harris County Public Library are excited to participate in this year&rsq...

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