My Brilliance: Now in Multiple Forums!

Here’s a reblogging of a post I recently wrote for the museum Historic Deerfield, where I was lucky enough to have a fellowship in 2004.  In the essay I reflect on history, maturation, and the ways in which the past makes itself known in the present.

. . . But don’t worry.  Despite that build-up, it’s not totally boring!

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Happy National Poetry Month! . . . An Apologia

That’s right—it’s once again time for the Academy of American Poetsannual celebration. And this year the Academy turns eighty, so special things are in the offing.  Stay tuned for more news of festivities, but in the meantime . . . read a poem! And before you do that . . . read this blog!

I had originally intended to use my post to argue that poetry is beneficial because learning about it improves children’s cognitive performance in school. But then, after some reflection, I abandoned the plan. Why? Because poetry doesn’t have to prove its worth with statistics. Metrics have taken over our thinking about schooling, and in doing so, have missed out on what’s really important about art.

So here’s why poetry—during National Poetry Month or otherwise—is so vital: it enriches our lives. While reading a poem, we witness the joy, sadness, and beauty of the poet’s life. We learn new things about language. We discover new insight into the ideas of people whose perspectives we could never have imagined. And we do so in concert with every other person who has ever read that poem, even if every other person has a completely different take on its meaning. In other words, we come to understand our place in the human family. All that, in just a few minute spots of ink or a few coded ones and zeros.

And that is what art is for!

Ten Tips on How to Write Less Badly.

Line art representation of a Quill

For starters, use the right equipment. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Michael C. Munger, chair of Duke University’s political science department, gives it to us straight in The Chronicle of Higher Education (and gives some good advice in the process).  Best line: “The difference between a successful scholar and a failure need not be better writing. It is often more editing.”

A Love Poem in an Endnote

Erin Moure

Erin Moure (Photo credit: pesbo)

I recently discovered a poem Erín Moure titled “an endnote and love song:” that plays with endnotes, Shakespearean sonnets, and form in a most surprising way.  While the piece is lovable for its sentiment alone, it takes the heart of an editor to love it for its reference to references.  I’m hoping you enjoy it as much as I did.

 

SAUNA 89 (sweated by В. Шекспір)

1. And if you were to leave me for my faults
2. I’d not defend my lameness, walking halt
3. and from my trust I would elide your
4. name, I would not do you wrong and speak of you
5. and (love) I’d not look at our friends who say you do
6. not merit me Your name was sweet and is no more
7. I will not speak of you
8. nor will I walk again where we once walked
9. I will not let my tongue evoke your name.
10. Your name will not be named by me, lest I profane
11. I will not name you.
12. I will not speak (too much profane)
13. You gone, I could not love me more than you
14. and if you love me not at all I love me even less
15. But oh your name. It will not touch my mouth.

I will not ( trout ) name you.

Originally received as the Poem-A-Day from the Academy of American Poets on August 16, 2013.  It can be seen online here.

Put a Poem in Your Pocket!

Greetings, loyal readers!  Today is Poem in Your Pocket Day, an event organized by the Academy of American Poets to spread the joy of literature far and wide.  Here’s a link to the website for the event, which features easily downloadable (and therefore printable) poems from a wide variety of writers on an even wider variety of topics.  Be sure to hand one to friends, loved ones, or even total strangers today!

Now, off to the Booth School of Business to delight and annoy with my own pile of pocket poems!