This Week’s Top 10 Poetic Picks

Artful Girl by Claire Burge

1 Art

I’m not one for baths, not even with bubbles, a book, and some bubbly, but Vanessa Mancini takes reading in the tub to a whole new level: she’s made a bathtub out of books. It’s not finished yet, but when it is, she’ll be able to bathe in books. Even I might be tempted to step into that bath.

A book-bathtub is one kind of sculpture. Guy Laramee makes another kind: he carves books into mountains and valleys and caves. (Oh my!) Seriously, these are pretty dang amazing. Who knew a book has a literal topography as well as its metaphorical one? I mean, who besides Guy Laramee?

News by Claire Burge

2 News

Do you write poetry? Have you got a tattoo? If you answered yes to both those questions, here’s an opportunity just for you: blogger Bill Cohen is featuring a tattooed poet every day on his blog during National Poetry Month.

I think tattoos are a little scary. All those needles. But it’s far more frightening that there are places in the world where poetry can get you arrested. Chinese poet Zhu Yufu has served nine years in prison for “subversion of state power” and “obstructing official business.” His poem, “It’s Time,” which he posted online, got him arrested again and sentenced to seven more years in prison on charges of inciting subversion.

Publishing by Claire Burge

3 Publishing

Joshua Edwards, founder of Canarium Books, a small poetry press run in conjunction with the University of Michigan’s MFA program, answered a few questions about his take on the future of his press and of publishing in general. My favorite line:

“The physical book will become a fetish object that only poets and collectors care about. Either that or everyone who survives the apocalypse will be writing poems with berry ink on animal skins in the waste land, to let everyone know, with great lyric verve, that the future has already come and gone.”

Long live lyric verve!

If you like your books old school, like I do (you know, with paper and ink), then you might fall for this small Canadian press that turns out books that are labors of love and works of art.

If you’re more into newfangled book technology, you might be interested in knowing that Apple has added to their iBookstore some fun new features for publishers.

Reviews by Claire Burge

4 Reviews

I don’t write much poetry, and when I do, it’s almost always in the privacy of my journal (which shall be burned upon my death). But reading L.L. Barkat’s thoughtful review of A Broken Thing: Poets on the Line, I found myself wondering about those lines I’ve scribbled privately, wondering about that word line and all the ways we use it, all the ways poets use it, about the way you can take a piece of prose
and turn it
into a poem just
by breaking
the line.

You might also want to check out Aaron Belz’s review of Billy Collins’s most recent book of poems, which is as much a defense and a eulogy of Collins as it is a review of Horoscopes for the Dead.


5 Creativity

Valentine’s Day has come and gone, but good love poetry lives forever. Why is that? David Orr has some ideas, which are very much worth reading, especially because, at the end, you get to read Lee Ann Brown’s love poem “After Sappho,” which Orr quotes in its lovely four line entirety.

Someone I know “loves” Kevin Young’s poetry. True confessions: I’d never heard of Kevin Young till I read this article, which didn’t really tell me much about him, except that he’s phenomenally prolific and playful to the point of funny. But that right there? That was enough to get me to go read a poem or two. I’m so glad I did.

Write It by Claire Burge

6 Write-It

Are you familiar with the New York School poets? Whether you know them or not, you can still write a poem like they did. All you need is the recipe.

If you’re not in the mood to get all John Ashbery and Frank O’Hara, you could check out some of these poetry writing prompts instead. Word to the wise: don’t read through all of them. The first two (or three, if you’re the kind that really needs options) provide plenty of grist to get the the old creativity wheel in your imagination turning.

And if you’re up for a real challenge, consider this: How long can you write without saying “I”? Me, self-involved navel-gazer that I am, not a single sentence. Maybe you can do better?

Poems by Claire Burge

7 Poems

What would Cinderella’s fairy godmother say when she had to go out into yet another night to grant yet another wish? What would Anne Boleyn say to Henry VIII? What would a retired minister, suffering from Alzheimer’s, say when he returns to the first home he ever knew? These are just a few of the two dozen persona poems published by Poemeleon.

In a completely different take on persona, Bradley J. Moore has recorded his encounter with the Poetry Boss:


The Poetry Boss came to my door
carrying a stick and a box of pens.
“Well?” she asked, kicking the snow from her boots.
“Aren’t you going to let me in?”

continue reading

People by Claire Burge

8 People

Last week, Rita Dove received a National Medal of the Arts. She also got groovy to a country tune, which gave a whole new meaning to poetry in motion. Ah, my kingdom for more dancing poets.

In a bit of sad news, poet Mary Oliver is seriously ill. Her friends have created a “Dear Mary” blog where Oliver’s fans and well-wishers can write her a short note of encouragement during this difficult time.


9 Education

Venture capitalist and rap fan Ben Horowitz believes rap lyrics can teach entrepreneurs and executives how to be better at business:

“All the management books are like, ‘This is how you set objectives, this is how you set up an org chart,’ but that’s all the easy part of management. The hard part is how you feel. Rap helps me connect emotionally.”

Maybe he should try writing poetry?

Motion by Claire Burge

10 Sound ‘n Motion

I’m clearly out of the loop here: I had no idea that Paradise Lost was heading for the silver screen until I learned that it wasn’t. Apparently, $94 million isn’t enough to make Milton a movie.

To mollify your melancholy over the Milton movie muddle, I leave you with this: a whole host of poets reading their own words (or someone else’s) and Mary Oliver reading “Sunflowers,” one of my (many) favorite of her poems. Who can be sad when sunflowers still turn their faces to the sky?

Photos by Claire Burge. Used with permission. Post by Kimberlee Conway Ireton, author of The Circle of Seasons: Meeting God in the Church Year


Buy a year of Every Day Poems, just $2.99— Read a poem a day, become a better poet. In February we’re exploring the theme Red.

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  1. L. L. Barkat says

    Kimberlee, you have outdone yourself! Seriously, I love this. I love your voice. I feel like we are having tea together, discussing our week and smiling.

  2. says

    I’m still stuck up there on numeral uno… That bathtub bit is odd. There’s just something about all those words seeing me naked. And underwater. Things appear larger under water, ya know?

    And those book carvings?! Good night, I thought my writing in books and dog-earing pages was daring. Those are wonders of creativity.

    At this rate, I reckon it’ll take me till the cows come home to roost to get through the remainder of your post. 😉


    • L. L. Barkat says

      Darlene, how amusing I hadn’t thought of it quite like that. A bathtub that is some kind of voyeur by virtue of all its words? :)

  3. says

    Dearest Darlene, fear not
    the magnification of parts
    If your bird bath becomes
    a word bath no doubt
    the only eyes opened
    will be your own

    Regrettably, I have uncharacteristically rhymed. I apologize. Short notice. I do recommend a lot of bubbles, however.

  4. says


    Okay, you’ve officially made me NOT want to bathe in books. All I can think now is, What if Pride and Prejudice is in there? What if Mr. Darcy sees me–sans clothing? Our one-sided love affair would surely end. And I wouldn’t want that now, would I? So. No bath.

    And just for the record, if anyone else had written this post, I’d still be making my way through it, too :)

    Thanks for reading!


  5. says

    Golly gee whiz, who knew that my naked comment would garner a reaction beyond eye-rolling and exasperation (that’s what I usually get around my home anyway). And I’m not sure, but I think Lyla thinks I’m a bird. Oh well, ya can’t win ’em all. 😉



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