Lilacs

Four of my poems were recently published by The Hamilton Stone Review.  One of those poems, a favorite of mine, a love poem, is called "Lilacs": Lilacs When I think of you, I think of lilacs, that subtle shade of lavender, and the purple bough I picked for you the day we walked through the … Continue reading Lilacs

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Writing About Place

Writing about place can be difficult, especially when we've lived in a place for a long time.  The trick, as the great New York and Colorado poet Jared Smith once told me, is to "grab hold of a good metaphor and don't let go." Here's a poem called "Elk Mountain" from my first book What … Continue reading Writing About Place

Writing metrical poems

Before I seriously began writing poems over a decade ago, I studied metrics for about six months.  I started by reading Timothy Steele's All The Fun's In How You Say a Thing: An Explanation of Meter and Versification and also William Baer's Writing Metrical Poetry.  Then I wrote nothing but metrical verse for about nine … Continue reading Writing metrical poems

The paradox of poetry

Most would agree with the idea that writing (and reading) poetry connects us to a deeper level of consciousness and meaning in the world. This view is somewhat overly dramatized in this scene from the character John Keating (John Keats, anyone?) in Dead Poet's Society. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FZ0S7ZJCfWo Hopefully, by now you've realized poetry will not bring … Continue reading The paradox of poetry

How to scan a poem

Despite what we've learned in school, there is no "correct" scan of a poem sitting in a vault somewhere for only English teachers to see.  Often, scansion relies on context, but even then, what one person hears as a stressed syllable another person hears as unstressed.  And within stressed syllables, the degree of stress can … Continue reading How to scan a poem

Good Poems: “Poet Warning,” by Jim Harrison

The best poems often involve compression. They create their emotional response with as few words as possible.  The poem "Poet Warning," written by Jim Harrison, is one of them: Poet Warning He went to sea in a thimble of poetry without sail or oars or anchor. What chance do I have, he thought? Hundreds of … Continue reading Good Poems: “Poet Warning,” by Jim Harrison