This Week’s Top Ten Poetic Picks

Kimberlee Conway Ireton The best in poetry (and poetic things), this week with Kimberlee Conway Ireton.

Artful Girl by Claire Burge

1 Art

Oh. My. Goodness. Did you know there is a website called Bookshelf Porn? Did you know it is a bibliophile’s dream come true? Hundreds of photos and videos of bookshelves, bookstores, books, books, and more books. It’s like Pinterest for book-people. If you don’t know this site, be sure to make the jump. And prepare to drool. Or worse.

Flannery O’Connor once said that all writers should learn how to draw so they’d be able to see better (she said it better, of course, in her no-nonsense Flannery way). And apparently a fair number of writers agree. Here’s a collection of artwork by 19 writers, including poets Baudelaire, cummings, Kipling, Plath, and Poe. Enjoy!

News by Claire Burge

2 News

Poetry Parnassus started this week. You know, the poetry equivalent of the Olympics. Poets from all 204 Olympic nations have descended on London and are reading it up even as I write these words. Wish you were there? Well, at the very least you can meet three of the poets—from India, Albania, and Uganda—who are.

On the other side of the globe, a different sort of gathering: the bereaved scientists who studied the late great giant tortoise Lonesome George. A native of the Galapagos, George was the last of his particular subspecies and supposedly in the prime of his life—a mere hundred years old. He died on Sunday of unknown causes. Poet X.J. Kennedy elegizes the tortoise.

Publishing by Claire Burge

3 Publishing

A new British startup is hoping to give Amazon’s Audible a run for their money. Bardowl is a monthly subscription service for streaming audiobooks straight to your iPhone. It’s an all-you-can-eat (er, listen to) smorgasbord: for 10 pounds a month, you get access to their whole catalog. Once they get kids’ books on there, I’m signing up: no more scratched CD’s from the library taking over the console in my minivan, and hours of screen-free and (almost) money-free babysitting for my twins while I attempt to do math and dictation with the olders in the dining room. Sounds dreamy.

Nine mid-sized publishers have written a letter to the Department of Justice criticizing the settlement between the DOJ and the Big 6 publishers regarding agency agreement in the pricing of e-books. I confess I don’t understand all the rhetoric in this case, but I do find it ironic (at the very least) that behemoth Amazon is considered the underdog in this fight.

Reviews by Claire Burge

4 Reviews and Interviews

I miss letters. Remember those? The things that came in envelopes with stamps on them? Handwritten on paper? Yeah. I miss those. So when Simon Armitage “reviewed” an unpublished letter by poet Ted Hughes, whom he calls “a prolific letter writer, perhaps from the last age of letter writing,” I was intrigued. Part eulogy, part meditation, this article is one of my favorite internet reads this week. It might even inspire me to go find a piece of paper and a pen and write (gasp!) an honest-to-goodness letter.

Visual artist and poet Allan Peterson talks with the folks at McSweeney’s about his journey into poetry, his poetic process, and why he tries really hard not to use punctuation. (What? No Oxford commas? What is the world coming to?)


5 Creativity

Go with the flow. But before you do, you should read this article about the requirements for flow and ideas to help you get there. Hint: if you haven’t put in your 10,000 hours, it’s probably not going to happen. Not to worry, though. There’s always coffee…or chocolate.

Even if you don’t reach flow in your creative work, don’t take creativity for granted. That’s what Stefan Sagmeister wants you to remember when you watch his presentation. It’s worth reaching the end, simply to see the pig, goose, and monkeys write the title of his newest documentary. (Really!)

And if you’re really not feeling the flow, even after the writing monkeys have shamed you, you could always go surf Twitter. Apparently the gems tagged with #badwritingtips are particularly useful.

Write It by Claire Burge

6 Write-It

Constance Hale explores the way sound and meaning interact in poetry and prose: “music is as important as meaning. In fact, music can drive home the meaning of words.” I’m a sucker for stuff like this. I, too, wrote about the way the sound reinforces meaning. Only my exploration required four blog posts. Because I’m even nerdier than Ms. Hale.

If you’re not into that kind of word-love, here’s another kind for you to try. Take a word from the one-word-prompt and write a poem with it. Better yet, take two or three and see what you can do. Feel free to share your wordplay in the comments (pretty please?).

Poems by Claire Burge

7 Poems

Last week, I tweeted about this poem, I loved it so much. Now I get to share it with you. (And if you’re not yet subscribed to Every Day Poems, what are you waiting for? It’s a poem, a photograph, and a piece of art, all delivered to your inbox first thing in the morning. What could be better?) Anyhoo, here’s John Leax with a gorgeous pantoum:

Star Lake Night

Open the door and step onto the porch.
The night may well be spread before you.
The stars may lie in the water.
The fox cry may waken you to dreams.

Read the rest of Star Lake Night…

If you’re not a novel reader and Oprah’s list of good summer reads isn’t doing it for you, you might check out American Poet‘s list of notable poetry books. Beach reading for the poet in all of us.

People by Claire Burge

8 People

When Maya Stein turned 40, she packed some camping gear and a typewriter onto her bicycle and started biking across the northeastern U.S., stopping along the way to ask people to write with her. Do read this fascinating interview with Stein about writing, typing, and community, both in person and online.

Kathleen Norris moved from New York City to her grandparents’ farm in South Dakota. Rebecca Norris Webb made the journey in reverse. But after years of “working in cramped urban interiors with artificial light,” she was ready to head someplace spacious. Like Dakota. Norris Webb talks about the recurring images—both photographic and poetic—that coalesced into her new photo-essay, “My Dakota.”


9 Education

It is a truth universally acknowledged that Pride and Prejudice is endlessly delightful. Well, if you’re me, that’s a universal truth. And now I can indulge my love of words and my love of all-things-Bennet (my youngest son’s name, by the way) with the Oxford Dictionary’s Interactive Pride and Prejudice Text Analyser.

You can learn, for instance, that the word Elizabeth occurs most often in conjunction with the word said, whereas Wickham is more likely to have replied. Pride is improper and mistaken, but prejudice is general and strong. You can also read sentences using each of the various collocates.

The discomposure of spirits, which this extraordinary visit threw Elizabeth into, could not be easily overcome; nor could she for many hours, learn to think of it less than incessantly.”

If you’re not laughing, you’re not reading carefully enough. The Oxford Dictionary people’ve got some serious nerdiness going on. Come on over and play the girl version of D&D: P&P.

Motion by Claire Burge

10 Sound n Motion

It’s Vladimir Nabokov month in my life. Everywhere I turn, there’s a Nabokov book/poem/video/reference. I’ve never even read Lolita, so why this synergy accruing around an author I’ve never read? (Don’t answer that.) Since I’m being afflicted with here a Nabokov, there a Nabokov, everywhere a Nabokov-kov, I thought I’d share. You, too, can claim Nabokovery in your June once you watch this video of Nabokov reading an early version of his poem “To My Youth,” which he later revised because he thought it “clumsy.” (And if you’re really digging the Nabokovness, you can read both the clumsy and the revised versions after the video.)

If you do nothing else with this post, be sure to click the play button on this video. It’s ostensibly a TED talk by Marco Tempest celebrating the work of Nikola Tesla. But really, it’s the poetry of magic melding with science and technology. And it’ll knock your socks off.

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 June we’re exploring the theme Trees.

Red #9


  1. L. L. Barkat says

    Heh. The monkeys shaming us totally tickled.

    (Where’s Duane Scott? He works in tandem with the monkeys 😉

  2. says

    one word prompts? okay… count me in!


    i longed for the
    every cell mending
    as i slumbered unaware
    while someone else
    counted endless doses
    i would have missed
    seeing your eyes twinkle
    your whole body shake when you laugh
    i would have missed
    feeling your hand caress my face
    i would have missed
    hearing the breath
    that keeps you with me in the night
    the chocolate
    I’m not supposed to have

  3. says

    I love this: “the girl version of D&D: P&P”. Ha ha!

    And those bookshelves? Incredible. I was struck by the innovative bus stop/bookshelf, and that end table made of books! So much “eye candy” in one space….

    Also interesting– reading about Poetry Parnassus and meeting those three poets and their fascinating backgrounds and perspectives.

    Thank you for this list. I’m still working my way through the rest!

    • says

      I’m so glad you found some stuff to enjoy here, Anna. I loved that bookshelf site. The Penguin Classic refrigerator-turned-library made me grin. Also, the Trinity College library. I want to go there someday and just breathe.

  4. says

    Such FUN each week with these lists. LOVE that you and Matthew do this. And the creativity video was weird and wonderful. But that Tesla bit?? WOW. When I see something like that, i am instantly about six years old, wide-eyed with wonder. Thanks!


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