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Showing posts from October, 2018

Progress Report on the Book

Progress Report on the Book

I've now settled on a title for the book: "General Discharge." I'm happy with it. The term is military, of course, which signals the subject matter of the poetry. This collection of poems is about service in the military, the difficulties of veterans reintegrating into civilian life afterwards--and about the culture they serve. But the term also invokes other ideas, I hope--about discharge in general (and poetry as a kind of discharge). All that is to say I like it.

And the actual design work is now under way to bring it to publication. I've been communicating with the publisher (who is very open to my ideas and preferences, by the way. Fomite Press are wonderful people to work with, who have opinions, and who respect mine.)

It's been interesting to think about the size of the book, the kind of paper it's printed on, even the font used for the text.

I believe the book will be 6" by 9" (a reasonably large trade paperb…

Some Poems Worth Your Time: Musee des Beaux Arts--WH Auden

Some Poems Worth Your Time: Musee des Beaux Arts--WH Auden

I thought it might be fun to look at poems that have meant something to me in my reading, writing, and attempts to live. I'm not going to claim these are the greatest poems ever written. I'm saying that these poems mean a lot to me, and so I am pointing them out to you in hopes that you will find something there, too. Here is the first:

"Musee des Beaux Arts"--WH Auden

I love all things Auden, but this one in particular speaks important truth to me. It is a meditation on suffering, as seen through classical painting, using Breugel's painting "Landscape With the Fall of Icarus" as his example.

Here is a link to the poem, with the painting

Auden's poem explains the painting, but it expands it, to include old masters paintings in general--and, of course, suffering in general.

I think it's fair to say that the poem is also about art and the artist--including poetry and the poet (as all poetry…

How to Make Sense of a Poem -- Including A Modest Example

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How to Make Sense of a Poem -- Including A Modest Example

We are all readers of poetry—even the poets who wrote the poems in the first place. And we are all just doing our best to make sense of them.
When I write a poem, it is because I see something that I want to show to others. I don’t want to explain it exactly—just show it.
And that raises the first question you might ask about a poem: Why that thing and not something else? Why write a poem about that?
And then, as you read each word, each phrase, each line, each sentence, keep asking why? Why that word? Why say it that way and not some other way?
Many people (perhaps even you) will object, saying it doesn’t matter why. What matters is what is. What the poet intended is irrelevant. I disagree—sort of. But I will save that discussion for later. 
In the meantime, here is an example. A while ago, I wrote a poem called “Lloyd’s Rocket.” The poem is a meditation on an abandoned gas station and all the optimism and aspirations it might have…