If you have a tendency to pick up various items throughout the day and put them in your pocket, then today is the day for you. One of those various items you need to purposely put in your pocket today is a poem. Yes, it is Poem in Your Pocket Day, started in 2002, in New York, one of the greatest celebrations of poetry during the National Poetry Month of April.
Carrying a poem in your pocket exemplifies what is true about poetry–it yearns to be a part of you; it yearns to be used. Fold it several times. Take it out every hour or so. Read it to a stranger. Read it to your mom or your brother or your step-dad or your best friend or the girl no one talks to by her locker at the end of the hall. Continue reading →
Houdini was an Aries like me. So was Charlie Chaplin.
Traditional straightjacket magic, magic of
A hop and fluster. I did not have magic—
Fire sign with no magic. I have no cape
With moons and shooting stars. Handcuffs
Stymie me. I cannot walk with my feet
Splayed. Yesterday, I sat on the porch Continue reading →
“What is troublesome about poets sequestered at the university is that unless we go to trade school or are exempt as trust-fund cases, in the sight of potential employers we might as well bear the mark of the beast. As a result, the university is virtually the only place for us. In the nation at large being a poet is suspect at best. ‘Read? I don’t read. Readin’s for queers,’ said one respondent to a recent poll on literacy. What a country.”–C.D. Wright Continue reading →
I have completed my first exhibit in the museum. It is called Marginalia—and it was inspired by Billy Collins’ poem of the same name and made possible by a 1928 textbook called Selections from English Literature. This textbook, which I bought in a Salvation Army in Bartlesville, around 1998, is littered with marginalia written by its owner, one Irene Chaffee. Continue reading →
My students have been studying the life and work of Woody Guthrie. It’s his centennial, and good old Oklahoma is finally coming around to see what an important man this guy from Okemah really was. My fellow Okies tend to hold a grudge for way too long, and in this case it was never warranted—to think someone was a communist (which he wasn’t) and a socialist (which he was, though didn’t care for the tag) is not a decent reason to deny his value. Continue reading →
You don’t need to love the old man.
Just move his boots out of the way
so neither of you trip over them.
Ask the cook to send the boy out
to find the leeks he likes the best.
Move the curtain on the bed a few
inches to one side, clip it there.
Turn away when he coughs
and the sputum slips out his mouth. Continue reading →
Once upon a time, without poetry, people were unable “to sow wheat or barley, go out to sea in a ship, make their gods hear them, get well if they were sick, or fight their enemies.” (The Winged Horse). Whatever we used to do of importance would begin or end with poetry. Poetry was originally the work of the people, of all people of any color, rank, position, religion, tribe, or education. Continue reading →