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This Week’s Top Ten Poetic Picks


top ten poetry

 The best in poetry (and poetic things), this week with Seth Haines.

Artful Girl by Claire Burge

1 Art

As a kid, I was always a sucker for a scratch-off card–you know, the little cards with silver coating that you’d scrape off to reveal ten percent off of your next Big Gulp at the local Come & Go. I’d nearly beg, borrow, or steal for a good scratch off card, which is why this particular article at the New York Times might win my vote for best article of the year.

Allow me to explain.

At first, this appears to be a mild mannered piece regarding the way in which Picasso reused old canvases in an effort to pinch a penny or two. That’s right, underneath “Woman Ironing,” is evidently the sketch of a man standing. Need proof? Scratch the surface! Visit the New York Times for this interactive and educational piece.

News by Claire Burge

2 News

This week, the Northeast hunkered down as hurricane Sandy came barreling in off the Atlantic. Tweetspeak’s own L.L. Barkat weathered that storm, and she’ll tell you first hand–it was as terribly tumultuous as predicted.

Sasha Weiss wrote of the gale, how it reminded her of a poem by Wislawa Szymborska entitled, “Into the Ark.” The poem, in part, reads:

For the sake of the children
that we still are,
fairy tales have happy endings.
That’s the only finale that will do here, too.
The rain will stop,
the waves will subside,
the clouds will part
in the cleared up sky,
and they’ll be once more
what clouds ought to be:
lofty and rather lighthearted

If you dive into one poem this week, make sure it’s this Szymborksa piece, the full test of which is found in Weiss’, “A Poem for the Sandy Aftermath.

Publishing by Claire Burge

3 Publishing

QR codes are everywhere. Everywhere I say. What are QR codes? Have you seen those little squares that look like this:

Barkat QR poetry

Download a free app on your smart phone, scan the QR code and, viola, you are taken to an internet link containing product specific information. (Try it with the code above. Go on. I dare you…)

According to Galleycat, publisher Red Hen Press is making interesting use of QR codes in the forthcoming book of poems by Eloise Klein Healy, A Wild Surmise: New & Selected Poems & Recordings. Evidently, the book will contain a code that allows the reader a sort of multimedia experience.

Now, if I could just figure out why some people are using QR coded bumper stickers.

Reviews by Claire Burge

4 Poetry at Work

We’ve been talking about poetry at work here at Tweetspeak. Do you carry poetry with you to the office? Currently, I have Wendell Berry’s Collected Poems 1957-1982, in my briefcase. I’ll pull it out from time to time and read a stanza like

All goes back to the earth,
and so I do not desire
pride of excess or power,
but the contentments made
by men who have had little….

(Wendell Berry’s “The Want of Peace.”) The sneaking of good words feeds me a bit, makes me a more productive worker, I think. This article by Carolyn Ziel confirms it.  ”[I]t’s always beneficial to make time to connect with your own heart. Bringing soul into to the forefront of our lives in all areas will reignite the fire in your heart,” she writes.

How’s your fire at the office? Use poetry to bring your “soul to the forefront” of your life at the office, and see what sparks.


5 Creativity

Field trips–who didn’t love them? In the sixth grade, my classmates and I took a field trip to the state capitol building in Little Rock. I remember very little about the trip, other than the fact that I snaked a seat next to Ginger Russell and at some point, we shared McDonald’s french fries.

This week, over one thousand middle school children are headed to the Joslyn Art Museum for the mother of all creativity field trips. “Celebrate Creativity,”  is a four-day event organized by the Omaha Symphony wherein they will attend art classes, creative workshops, and music lessons.  What do the students like most about it? “Overall, just being able to be spontaneous,” one student said. Sure. That, and sharing french fries with that special someone.

Omaha’s Public Radio Newsroom reports on this wonderful creative event.

Write It by Claire Burge

6 Write-It

I’ve enjoyed Luke Neff’s writing prompts for some time. Who else prompts you to write a first person narrative of a cat stuck on a trampoline, an account from the perspective of Halloween candy, or otherwise asks you what you’d do with a unicorn head mask? I’m not sure where he comes up with this stuff, but it’s always unexpected and a great deal of fun. Now… go write it!

Poems by Claire Burge

7 Poems

Do you subscribe to Every Day Poems? You should. This week, we featured Tony Hoagland’s poem “Don’t Tell Anyone,” a poem about self-reflection and the psychology of man. He writes:

We had been married for six or
seven years
when my wife, standing in the kitchen one
afternoon, told me
that she screams underwater when she

Do you scream underwater? I might. In any event, you can read this poem in its entirety here (and you really should). And while you are at it, don’t forget to subscribe to Every Day Poems.


People by Claire Burge

8 People

Often the Tweetspeak Top 10 offers a unique, quirky, and sometimes comical take on the goings-on of the literary world. Today, however, in our people segment, we’d like to commemorate one brave figure who used his art to protest injustice and paid the ultimate price for it.

On Monday evening, Somali poet and comedian Warsame Shire Awale was struck down by unknown gunmen near his home in Mogadishu. Awale used his pen as a sword against the Al Qaeda-linked militant Islamist group, Al Shabab. For more on his life, and to better understand the situation in Somalia, read this piece at the Los Angeles Times. Awale was the 18th Somali media member to be killed this year.



9 Education

I’ve been listening to former teacher turned poet and educational motivator, Taylor Mali, for some time.  Mali embarked on a mission to recruit 1,000 new teachers, strictly through the power of poetry and persuasion. On October 28, he reached his goal as the final teacher credited him for inspiring her to teach. How inspirational is he?

Motion by Claire Burge

10 Sound n Motion

Today, we leave you with this beautiful expose of two sister-prodigies who are thinking (and working) years beyond their age. Enjoy.

Cover photo by Ryan Vaarsi, Creative Commons, via Flickr. Article photos by Claire Burge. Used with permission. Post by Seth Haines.


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

Every Day Poems Driftwood

Your Comments

9 Comments so far

  1. Great stuff here, Seth. Loved your take on the Picasso scratch-off. And the QR code is priceless. (Yes, I tried it. :)

  2. Another excellent compilation, Seth.

  3. Donna says:

    SO much here I’ll need to return again and again. The sister artists – so remarkable!

  4. Leah Downs says:

    Good grief there’s so much here that inspires! I can’t wait to show my boys the piece about the painting prodigies. They’re all taking art classes and one in particular is really loving it – now I need to get over my need to control the mess and make a way for him to enjoy art more frequently at home!

  5. I really liked the Tony Hoagland poem, maybe because I spend most mornings in the pool, going back and forth. (It’s where my best ideas come from.)


  1. This Year's Top 10 Top 10 Poetic Picks - Tweetspeak Poetry - December 27, 2012

    [...] November 1: This week, the Northeast hunkered down as Hurricane Sandy came barreling in off the Atlantic. Tweetspeak’s own L.L. Barkat weathered that storm, and she’ll tell you first hand–it was as terribly tumultuous as predicted. [...]

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