This Week’s Top Ten Poetic Picks

Silver Forks

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

Artful Girl by Claire Burge

1 Art

We heart book art. Here’s Erica Baum’s new collection of paper art. Called Dog Ear, it’s a collection of photographs of the dog-eared pages of books. Sound boring? It’s not. It’s beautiful.

We’ve spotlighted quite a bit of book art like Ms. Baum’s here on the Top Ten, but this is our first shout-out of magazine art: Using cut and torn fragments from popular magazines, Brazilian artist Vik Muniz has recreated paintings by Van Gogh, Manet, Cézanne, and other artists. It’s pretty amazing, even in the photographs. I can’t imagine how textured and fine the real deal would be.

News by Claire Burge

2 News

Attention Jane A. fans! Let’s pool our resources and buy Ms. Austen’s turquoise ring, and first editions of Pride and Prejudice and Mansfield Park. I’ll let you fight over the ring and the Fanny Price book. But the P&P is mine.

After inviting you to bid with me on Ms. A’s literary legacies, I have a confession to make: the auction was Tuesday. It’s just as well. I hate shopping. Even online. But I especially hate stores that are really warehouses pretending to be stores. They’re ugly and overwhelming and congeal everything that’s bad about America in one hideous building. (Ask me how I really feel.) So imagine my surprise and delight when I found a big box store I liked: an old Wal-Mart converted into a gorgeous and award-winning library. Now that’s my kind of warehouse.

Publishing by Claire Burge

3 Publishing

Here’s a retrospective of some firsts for Poetry Magazine: the first T.S. Eliot poem they published (“The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock”), the first (and only) Tennessee Williams poem, and an entire issue devoted to verse by Central and South American poets (in 1925!).

Speaking of Eliot, there’s a new app out that unpacks his formidable and most famous poem. Tess Taylor explores the app that explores “The Waste Land.” This is more than just a review of a single app. It’s a meditation on reading deeply and well and what the future of that kind of reading might look like. Good stuff, though (appropriately) not for skimming.

Reviews by Claire Burge

4 Reviews

The New Yorker gets positively gushy in this review of Our Andromeda by Brenda Shaughnessy. This is probably the gushiest review of a book of poetry I’ve ever read. I say this utterly without malice, as I’ve been known to get gushy on occasion myself. But honestly, I expected more of The New Yorker. I mean, aren’t they the people who put the sin in cynicism?

If, like me, you dig your reviews with English accents, try this audio review on for size: The Economist poetry review Emma Hogan dishes about a new compilation of poems about London. It’s worth listening to just to hear Ms. Hogan read Wordsworth’s sonnet “Composed on Westminster Bridge”.


5 Creativity

Can you teach creative writing? That’s the question Rick Gekoski asks himself when he’s asked to teach a creative writing class. The vignette about the Nigerian girl and the bus in Lagos is worth the jump. Also, there’s some writing advice at the bottom that you may or may not find helpful. After all, you can’t teach creative writing. You can only point in the right direction.

And this right here is the right direction: Maria Popova introduces us to Rosamond Harding, a musicologist who also wrote what sounds like a fabulous little book on creativity. (Alas, my library doesn’t have a copy, and it’s way out of my price range on Amazon.) Luckily, Harding quotes galore populate this post, which I can’t recommend highly enough. Truly, go read it. Then go get creative.

Write It by Claire Burge

6 Write-It

Okay, this is super sweet. (My husband says “sweet” when a girl says it is a death knell. He says it’s always followed by a “but.”) But every writer among us has had a literary crush (or 12). Peter Brandvold actually wrote to his—and got a letter in return. This makes me really, really, really wish I’d written to Madeleine L’Engle when I was a 20-something fangirl. Then I, too, might have a yellowed paper posted above my desk. So, which writer would you write to, if you had the guts?

If you chicken out writing to your long-loved literary luminary (ahem), you can at least head over to this week’s July Mosaics page and play with words till you find a poem. (Don’t forget to alliterate!) Then, please, share what you find so we can celebrate with you.

Poems by Claire Burge

7 Poems

Have I mentioned recently how much I love Every Day Poems? (I have? Really?) Well, here’s yet another reason why: Lorna Cahall’s beautiful poem about two very different gardens.

Our Gardens

A cool early morning breeze
rang a bell from Thailand,
brought home long ago.

Read the rest of “Our Gardens.”

If you’re not feeling super meditative in all this heat, check out Lindsay Walker’s “My Kitchen Can Beat Up Your Kitchen”, a tongue-in-cheek homage to Southern cookery and the women who serve it up.

Also, here’s a list of bug-inspired and -related poetry for kids (and their parents). I’m all over this one: my kids are always bringing me snails, spiders, and other creepy crawly critters to show me how cool they are. I’m still getting over my life-long heebie-jeebies when it comes to letting the too-many-legged creatures crawl on me, but otherwise, I’m willing to concede that, yes, they are cool. Cool enough even to warrant 22 books of poetry.

People by Claire Burge

8 People

Here’s an interview with Michael Robbins, the poet behind Alien vs. Predator, which has been (as he points out) the bestselling poetry book in recent days. He’s funny, smart, and authentic. And he’s a dang good poet. But you’d have to read his book to learn that.

Over in the far western reaches of the U.S., a poet named Kealoha has recently been named poet laureate of State #50. (Actually, his real name is Steven Kealohapau’ole Hong-Ming Wong, which I would shorten, too, if I were him. Can you imagine spelling that every time you showed up for soccer camp? Poor kid.) Anyhoo, he’s got a great TED talk that you can watch, all about science and poetry and pop culture. (Thanks to Maureen Doallas at Writing Without Paper for clueing me in to this guy!)


9 Education

Wondering how to keep your kids reading? Michael Morpugo knows the answer. He reminds us that “we need to love books ourselves as parents, grandparents, and teachers in order to pass on that passion for stories to our children. It’s not about testing and reading schemes, but about loving stories and passing on that passion to our children.”

He waxes poetic about his mum, who read poetry and stories aloud to him and his brother. He says her read-aloud sessions are what kept him interested in books and reading, even though he wasn’t much of a reader himself. He particularly calls out Kipling’s “The Elephant’s Child” as a source of enjoyment and inspiration:

As a child and an adult, I marvel at the music in Kipling’s words, at the fun and inventiveness of it – there are words in the story that you will find nowhere else – but most of all because the story is so satisfying. I was fascinated by the fusion of poetry and story, of wit and wonder.”

For the word nerds among you, I’ve wrassled up a history of rhyme, from ancient China to contemporary Eminem. Just one fascinating tidbit: rhyme is a relatively recent development in Western poetry, appearing only in the past thousand years. Homer, Virgil, and the Celtic bards didn’t use it. Nor do we, anymore. Unless we’re Michael Robbins.

Motion by Claire Burge

10 Sound n Motion

When I saw that Open Culture was sporting a video of Allen Ginsberg reading a poem he wrote while on LSD, I admit, I was skeptical. After all, I’m a good girl. The closest I’ve ever come to illicit substances is the antibiotics I had to take to get rid of mastitis after my twins were born. And those were totally legal, by the way. Completely. Still, I didn’t try to write any poems while I was taking them. I felt too lousy. Ginsberg, on the other hand, apparently felt pretty good. He also saw a whole lot of things that weren’t there. But it made for some arresting images anyway.

On a completely different note, Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking, gives a funny, touching talk that addresses the needs of introverts like me for space and time to be, well, quiet (there’s a notion) so our brains can rest and our souls rejuvenate and our creativity flourish. A must-see video for anyone who’s ever felt spun out or strung out after a networking event, this is a quiet but impassioned reminder that it’s okay to be quiet.

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 July we’re exploring the theme The Cento.

Red #9


  1. says

    “The world needs you, and it needs the things you carry.” Susan Cain talking on the suitcase of the introvert… and the value of these precious souls. This video left me wiping tears from my cheek and blinking my eyes free just so that I could write this little comment. So powerful. Being the mother of an introverted gifted guitarist who wants to be a rock star (as long as no one is looking while he’s noticing because their eyes brushing each other’s midsong drains him dry) this touched me in a deep way. Thank you for sharing it. I have passed it on.

  2. says

    Lots of good (and fun) stuff here today!

    So glad you found Muniz; he’s created some great work.

    Lovely to see Lorna mentioned. My friend Randall introduced me to her poetry a while back. She recently pub’d a collection.

    Thank you for the shout-out re Hawaii’s Poet Laureate.

  3. L. L. Barkat says

    Okay, before I even got out of the gate, I went to see the Dog-Ear collection. I LOVE it.

    Now I am thinking… I don’t know what I am thinking, but I’m thinking.

    It feels like the beginning of something we could do for something :)

    (Back to link shopping now :)

  4. says

    So much to love here, Kimberlee! The TED talk was especially wonderful, said the introvert who is disguised as an extrovert. And the magazine art and library from a Wal-Mart – priceless.


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