This Week’s Top Ten Poetic Picks

 The best in poetry (and poetic things), this week with Lyla Willingham Lindquist.

Artful Girl by Claire Burge

1 Art

The last time I carried a purse, I was modeling a Christmas gift: a powder blue skirt and vest set with a ghastly psychedelic printed blouse of more colors than Joseph’s cloak and a shiny red fake leather purse slung over my shoulder. I was probably eight years old, and that difficult fashion period of the 1970s was just beginning. On the upside, the purse was jammed full of lemon drops and atomic fireball jawbreakers. My purse-carrying days are over. Give me a backpack, a tool belt, even a Charlie Brown lunch box. But not a purse. Of course, that was until I saw these gems, old books repurposed into awesome handbags for book lovers. I’m thinking I’d like to get the Hello Kitty one.

Yeah, no. Not really. I don’t want any of them. But they are pretty fun as purses go, and if my powder blue skirt and vest still fit . . .

I assume all the pages have been taken out of the books to make room for important things like atomic fireballs, and wonder if any of them include the amazingly beautiful words of Phil Cousineau’s The Painted Word, a book on word origins. In choosing the handful of words out of a million or so in the English language, Cousineau used the frisson test: “the shiver down the spine that Vladimir Nabokov described as the recognition of a deep truth.” Take a look at this collection of provocative paintings HuffPost Books has paired with nine of Cousineaus’ “beautiful words.”

News by Claire Burge

2 News

If you’re looking to stock up your own shiny fake leather purse with candy, you might want to check out the newly updated Candy Hierarchy chart–compiled based on a meticulous study involving young children and Halloween candy–to make sure you’re making your selections from the top tier. Incidentally, there’s still a large bowl inside my front door full of bottom tier selections leftover from the big treat holiday. And if you’d like top tier candy without the calories, be sure to stop by and pick out something at the WordCandy app counter.

Publishing by Claire Burge

3 Publishing

For all the hand-wringing over the way e-publishing threatens to backspace over print, the silver lining behind the HD display may be in the way that print publishers are creating a deeper sensory experience in the act of purchasing and reading a physical book. Some are experimenting with different papers and textures, others with stunning covers. And don’t forget the one thing digital will never give you: the smooth, satin bookmark ribbon.

Even without the bookmark ribbon, e-book sales continue to thrive. Forbes compares the big publishers to see which houses are doing the best job. And don’t rule out the self-publishers from their little publishing bungalows.

Reviews by Claire Burge

4 Poetry at Work

With elections in the U.S. behind us, many wish to hear nothing more about it until the next campaign season begins, in say, four months or so. But we thought this collection of presidents and the poets who influenced them by the folks at Poetry Foundation would be a fitting way to wind down Election 2012.  Teddy Roosevelt was a fan of Edward Arlington Robinson and Harry Truman of Alfred, Lord Tennyson. And when Abraham Lincoln was asked to toast Robert Burns, Elizabeth Harball writes that he declined, saying, “I cannot frame a toast to Burns. I can say nothing worthy of his generous heart and transcending genius. Thinking of what he has said, I can not say anything which seems worth saying.”

Politicians are wise to look to poets in both good and difficult times. Fair Observer has a compelling article on the role of poets in trying political times:

And so it is that I have come to realize the role of poetry in times of crisis: vision. By “vision” I mean that unblinking witness is only half of the equation. This is what I mean by seeing over the head of the times. It is not enough to bear witness to now; journalists, to an extent, do that. Poetry lends us a third (metaphysical) eye, one that collapses distances, at once reminding us of our essential selves and who we can become. This vision provides more insight than mere sight.

(HT to our good friend Maureen Doallas for this article.)


5 Creativity

Much is made in the workplace of inclusion and getting along and presenting a unified front. As the designated contrarian in most organizations I’m associated with, I felt a little smugly vindicated at this article at Fast Company encouraging a little internal opposition amongst the ranks, even if you have to hire mercenaries:

Companies are beginning to realize that opposition is vital and a certain amount of conflict healthy. Some have even launched internal disruption units that can drive radical innovation from left field (e.g., Anheuser-Busch’s Beer Garage or Google X). As an alternative, companies may also bring in agencies and consultancies–hired opposition–with the mandate to disrupt conventional thinking and overcome groupthink and organizational myopia.

It was a nice follow-up to this piece suggesting companies should have a Chief Dissent Officer — someone charged with poking holes in the hot air balloons and raining on the occasional parades to try to identify the bad ideas before they’re implemented. Of course, since I’m so easy to get along with, it will come as no surprise to anyone that I do my best work alone in my basement office where no one can swipe my lemon drops.

Write It by Claire Burge

6 Write-It

Are you looking for a one-of-a-kind gift this holiday season? You might think about poet John Blase’s offer to write a poem from a photo you provide as a gift to your loved one. He’s published an excerpt from a recent poem he wrote for a couple of brothers:

Sometimes birth order keeps brothers apart,
that and the fight to endure a harsh childhood.
They grow for long stretches of track into men
with the same eyes, the same smile, the same
smooth head, but in different cars on the train.

Stop by The Beautiful Due to read the rest of the poem and get the details on this unique gift idea. And if you want to write you own unique poetry, you ought to check out Seth Haines’ new themed playlist for November. We’re all about the curious juxtapositions of surrealism this month, and the playlist is no exception. Perhaps it will inspire a surrealist poem from your feather pen.

Poems by Claire Burge

7 Poems

Few things are as routine in my life as the short vibration I feel at my hip at 7:00 every weekday morning. My faithful Android alerts me that my minimum daily requirement of poetry has arrived in my inbox from Every Day Poems. I read something like this and absent-mindedly reach to finger a small shell on my desk and imagine I’m walking on a beach myself. I wonder where a poem you’ve read recently may have taken you.


We walk along the deserted beach,
leaning to finger shells—
their ridged backs telling us
a story, the words of which
we cannot hear, only feel…

Read the rest of L.L. Barkat’s poem “Combing” at Every Day Poems.

People by Claire Burge

8 People

I recently visited the grave of Emily Dickinson as part of penance owed to her for past snarky remarks. I was surprised by the trinkets lining the top of her headstone, and quite taken by the epitaph, “Called Back.” The Atlantic reports on a number of burial sites of dead poets and writers, including Dorothy Parker, whose epitaph reads, “Excuse my dust.” Perhaps I should install that stone in my living room even right now. In an interesting twist, Edgar Allan Poe was buried in an unmarked grave for 20 years before fans built him a more fitting monument, including a raven on the marker. Mark Redfield, a Poe biographer, noted that his family members were later moved to his grave site.

“Of course, they had to disturb him again to reunite him with his family,” said Redfield. “I’m sure he welcomed it.”

(HT: Ann Kroeker)


9 Education

Do you have a young reader in your life? NPR hosts a Backseat Book Club which is currently reading The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan. Buckle up their seat belts and sign the kids up.

Motion by Claire Burge

10 Sound n Motion

This short video features “rivers that look like trees and rocks that look like feathers,” extraordinary images that seem to be from another planet, though they were taken over Iceland by Russian photographer Andrey Ermolaev. They fit right along with our November surrealist theme.

And if that’s not enough extraordinary Iceland for you, watch this beautiful video pairing Icelandic images and evocative music. You’ll be ready to book a flight.


Cover photo by Vox Efx, Creative Commons, via Flickr. Article photos by Claire Burge. Used with permission. Post by Lyla Willingham Lindquist.


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


  1. says

    I don’t think I could ever do powder blue with red. But anyway.

    I went straight to the candy hierarchy and saw that I would do some rearranging—except for their lowest tier. Those are definitely the lowest.

  2. says

    I just cracked up thinking about anyone other than a five year old carrying a Hello Kitty purse. There’s an artist at a national craft fair I go to that has these kinds of goods; they’re incredibly popular.

    I could have used that Candy Chart when I was writing my ‘Hershey’s Got No Baby Ruth’ poem, which may be the most-fun poem I’ve written.

    Ermalov’s work is amazing.

    Thanks for the HT. Wonderful compilation, Lyla!


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