Poetry Sunday: ‘Sins of Grammar & Usage,’ by Ellen Doré Watson

May 1, 2016 by Rebecca Foust

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“Sins of Grammar & Usage” is free verse, three stanzas of nine lines of roughly equal length except that the last line in each stanza is about half the length of the others. I love the poem for its heightened use of and very canny look at language; that is, words and the grammar and syntax that govern how those words are used.

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Poetry Sunday: ‘Variations on an Old Standard,’ by A. E. Stallings

April 24, 2016 by Rebecca Foust

ATHENS , GREECE , THURSDAY 8 : ATHENS , GREECE , THURSDAY 8 : Alicia Elsbeth  writer recipient of MacArthur Fellowship  (Photo by Milos Bicanski/Getty Images for Homefront TV)ATHENS , GREECE , THURSDAY 8 : ATHENS , GREECE , THURSDAY 8 : Alicia Elsbeth  writer recipient of MacArthur Fellowship  (Photo by Milos Bicanski/Getty Images for Homefront TV)

By Rebecca Foust

A. E. Stallings is well known for her remarkable, seemingly effortless mastery of formal poetry as well as for her much-praised Latin and Greek translations.

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Poetry Sunday: ‘Nursery Rhyme,’ by Meredith Bergmann

April 17, 2016 by Rebecca Foust

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By Rebecca Foust

Today’s poem is so well beautifully crafted that I think it would do for anyone (not just those whose lives have been touched by autism) what all great poems do: deeply move and make us see something in the world in a new way.

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Poetry Sunday: ‘The undertaker’s daughter,’ by Toi Derricote

April 10, 2016 by Rebecca Foust

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By Rebecca Foust

Toi Derricotte defies the critical tradition that views memoir as inferior to literary fiction and dismisses issues of family and relationship as “women’s issues.”

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Molly Fisk: Poetry Is All Yours

April 9, 2016 by Molly Fisk

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Poetry gives us permission. It reminds us that we are loved and we are human.

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Poetry Sunday: ‘My Life Was the Size of My Life,’ by Jane Hirshfield

April 3, 2016 by Rebecca Foust

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By Rebecca Foust

This week’s poem, “My Life Was the Size of My Life,” did enter and move me, deeply, the first time I read it in “The New Yorker” while I was standing in a supermarket checkout line. And it moves me again each time I read it. How does this apparently “simple” poem achieve its remarkable affect?

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Poetry Sunday: ‘This is the House of Yearning,’ by Iris Jamahl Dunkle

March 27, 2016 by Rebecca Foust

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By Rebecca Foust

The rest of the series explores what it was like for the speaker, a young woman, who shortly after arriving in Sonoma County with her husband and clearing land for an orchard, finds herself widowed and not only trying to raise a healthy orchard, but also a young child, on her own.

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Poetry Sunday: ‘Self Portrait with Reader,’ by Kelli Russell Agodon

March 20, 2016 by Rebecca Foust

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By Rebecca Foust

As with other poems discussed this month, what really draws me in is its intimate, compassionate tone and the speaker’s wise but also vulnerable voice. She communicates authority without arrogance and counsel without pedantry so that when I read the poem I feel understood, nourished and supported.

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Poetry Sunday: ‘The Boston Soak,’ by Mary Meriam

March 13, 2016 by Rebecca Foust

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By Rebecca Foust

But “it” may instead refer to a potential relationship, an entanglement with the woman the speaker is daydreaming about in the tub and her delicious discovery in lines 10-12, that “it’s only love, and love is like water / unencumbered by ‘he’ or ‘she.’” We are left in the end in a tantalizing state of unknowing, but one in which the woman speaker has agency and is joyous and free.

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Poetry Sunday: ‘Omens,’ by Danusha Laméris

March 6, 2016 by Rebecca Foust

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By Rebecca Foust

This is loaded material, the kind difficult to present without melodrama or bathos, but the poet avoids both pitfalls with her masterful restraint and verbal sleight-of-hand.

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Poetry Sunday: ‘Earth and Sky,’ by Catherine Staples

February 28, 2016 by Rebecca Foust

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By Rebecca Foust

The images in “Earth and Sky” are rendered with skill, precision, and imagination. [S]o what we see is not just a static postcard but something alive as the world and just as subject to continuous shift and change.

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Poetry Sunday: ‘The Ferlinghetti School of Poetics,’ by Joan Gelfand

February 21, 2016 by Rebecca Foust

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By Rebecca Foust

The poem film is a new art form, and in its innovation and passion this one pays wonderful homage to the man whose work inspired Gelfand’s poem.

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A Valentine’s Day Poetry Sunday: “The Morning After,” by Ellen Bass

February 14, 2016 by Rebecca Foust

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By Rebecca Foust

Everything anyone could want in a love poem—sensuality, depth, tenderness, appreciation, frank passion, and cleaving—it’s all here in one stanza of 35 free-verse lines in which a speaker addresses her lover with frank and joyous desire.

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Poetry Sunday: “Chimneys: A History of East Texas,” by Betty Adcock

February 7, 2016 by Rebecca Foust

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By Rebecca Foust

Because the lines in the poem are all of roughly equal length, each section looks like a column or chimney, with the stacks getting shorter as the poem proceeds, so that the poem is also held together visually on the page.

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Poetry Sunday: “Survival: A Guide,” by Cleopatra Mathis

January 31, 2016 by Rebecca Foust

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By Rebecca Foust

In the heron, the speaker sees herself, aging and threatened by predators: foxes on the ground and the devastatingly inescapable “ruthless, overhead patrol.” But also, like the heron, kept going by some “blind” (not a matter of will) life force.

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