To Be an Artist in This Age

To be an artist in this age… when the audience has a million artists to choose from… a billion televised and online options to distract them… a hundred reasons, on any given night, “not” to come out to the event you’ve poured your blood, sweat, and heart into for months to put together… and a thousand advertising agencies per second working overtime to lull them into the oblivion of perceived necessity… is surely among the bravest acts I’ve ever known. Bash on, my friends…

What Might Save Poetry

When I visit middle or high school classrooms, I've noticed something--a dynamic--that I've struggled to put in words. Something that makes me say, to myself, each time, "Okay... I know how to fix this... but..." Then, recently, I was reading the final essay in Tony Hoagland's book "Twenty Poems That Could Save America," and these words came blasting off the page: “I have met, over the years, many remarkable English teachers who make poetry vivid and real to their students—but they are the exception. By far the majority of language arts teachers feel lost when it comes to poetry. They themselves were never initiated into its freshness and vitality. Thus they lack not only confidence in their

On the Politics of Poetry

I'm still refusing to talk politics. . . though, I'm weakening, I'll admit. But I thought this little thought on the politics of poetry would be okay: "Unabiding" Oh how I like a poem that goes from a here to some kind of there. Yet, surely not one of those that flows all over the god-awful everywhere. But a poem caught in the throes of an intentional, abysmal nowhere, I cannot abide, right down to my toes, since it is neither here… nor there.

A Literary Reprieve

Well, the dark year that books (the ones made with paper pages and covers that bend and warp with a reader’s love) were scheduled to become obsolete, if not extinct, has come and gone. The dream we had for saving the trees, by way of increasing the manufacture of lithium-ion batteries, is waning a bit. Even our brief excitement over the way those batteries occasionally explode is passing. There are so many ways to destroy the world. And when it comes to literature, I’m guilty on both counts. I have a library, and a Kindle. But I’ve seen a minor phenomenon unfold in my personal, and clinical, reading disorder. (And I mean here my love for reading, to the point of being diseased about it, and

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