Pocket a Poem and Be Proud

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

April Magician

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

You are the Fog

“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

The First Exhibit

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

Oklahoma’s True Poet Laureate: Woody Guthrie

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