There will be no poem at today’s inauguration. The tradition began at Kennedy’s inauguration with a poem by Robert Frost. I know it’s not an unbroken tradition. Not every president since Kennedy has had an inaugural poet. But this one feels conspicuous. I’m not surprised that there isn’t an inaugural poet. Who would agree to … More What to Do When There’s No Inaugural Poem?
With his emphasis on the embodiment of Christ in his poetry, the priest-poet, Gerard Manley Hopkins has quite a few seasonal poems to choose from. Last year, we looked at one of his darker Christmas poems, but I thought we would be a little more festive this year. The stanza above is from “Ad Matrem Virginem,” … More Christmas with Hopkins
I’m picking my wife up at the airport today. I wrote before about how I moved from John Donne’s “A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning” to Jack Gilbert’s “Highlights and Interstices” as ways to understand our time in different states, but this is now the poem for today: Love, what a long way, to arrive at a … More Un Soneto para Mi Amor
I used to think the power of words was inexhaustible, That how we said the world was how it was, and how it would be. I used to imagine that word-sway and word-thunder Would silence the Silence and all that, That worlds were the Word, That language could lead us inexplicably to grace, As though … More I Still Do
What do you think of when I say punk rock? Probably some suspiciously angry kid with chains and leather and spikes. Maybe a DIY ethic at odds with the industry. Or a hastily drawn anarchy sign that’s more fashion than substance. But do you think poetry when I say punk? Why not? Let’s think about this. Where’s … More A Defense of the Poetics of Punk Rock
We may think of poetry as a frivolous nicety. Something for unemployed graduate students and English teachers. We may have repeated to ourselves the old mantra from Auden’s poem about Yeats that “poetry makes nothing happen.” It’s only an assortment of words, with tired rhymes or childish puns. What can it do besides give me a feeling? … More What Can Poetry Do?