This Week’s Top Ten Poetic Picks

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

Artful Girl by Claire Burge

1 Art

When I was nine years old, I watched the motion picture The Goonies, for the first time. In addition to sparking a bit of an infatuation with the fairer sex (who didn’t have a crush on Andy?), the movie furthered my fascination with that age-old literary prop—the treasure map. What kid didn’t dream of following mysterious clues and avoiding booby traps as he searched for the lost gold ingots of One-Eyed Willie? And if I’m being completely honest, it’s a dream I still carry today. Perhaps that’s why this article at the BBC caught my attention.

An anonymous artist has produced a series of very detailed literary sulptures from classic Scottish books. These sculptures have been hidden in Edinburgh, and the artist will release daily clues to help direct treasure hunters to the booty. Sure, it’s not pirate treasure and there aren’t likely to be many spring guns or trap doors along the way, but it seems like a good bit of fun nonetheless.

News by Claire Burge

2 News

I must admit, I’m a sucker for good poetry regardless of its form or genre. Poetry can imbue a sense of place, an understanding of another person’s way of thinking. That’s why I wish I lived near Wickenburg, Arizona.

On December 7-8, cowboy poets from across the great Southwest will shine up their best pair of chip kickers and dust off their ten-gallon hats for the 24th annual Cowboy Christmas Poetry Gathering. The gathering, an annual event held for the last 24 years, celebrates the best in cowboy poetry, singing, and storytelling. You can bet your boots some very talented folks will mosey in to Wickenburg to share their works. And if that’s not inducement enough to visit, perhaps the promise of a Dutch-oven biscuits ‘n’ gravy and cowboy coffee breakfast will entice you.

If you’re in the region, consider visiting and reporting back to us here at Tweetspeak. We’d love to hear your thoughts on the gathering.

Publishing by Claire Burge

3 Publishing

Over the last few months, we’ve highlighted a number of articles in our Top Ten Poetic Picks that reference the growing trend toward self-publication. And with the advent of the self-publishing boom, self-marketing has also become a growing trend. Does it all seem a bit off-putting to you, all these not-so-subtle social media attempts to self-promote? And if you are a self-publisher, do you shy away from all of these seemingly self-promotional attempts to market your work?

“Really good marketers communicate messages in a way that doesn’t sound or feel like marketing…” writes Dan Blank in his piece for Writer Unboxed. In it, he gives practical insights into the importance of good (and tasteful) marketing. If you are a self-publisher, this one is a must-read.

Reviews by Claire Burge

4 Poetry at Work

Do you see the efficacy of poetry in the workplace? Perhaps not. Perhaps you view the abstract creativity of poetry as an ill fit for the rational, profit-driven motive of the business world. I must admit, I’ve been guilty of drawing such distinctions myself. But this piece at Small Business Notes eschews these traditional notions and indicates that effective business leaders employ poetry on a regular basis. John Coleman at the Harvard Business Review agrees, stating that the inclusion of poetry in the workplace is invaluable. He writes that poetry enhances employee creativity, teaches professionals to simplify the complex, and fosters empathy among coworkers.

Read these articles and perhaps you’ll start packing more more than a brown-bag lunch before heading to work; perhaps you’ll start packing a bit of poetry, too. In fact, today I carried a copy of Wendell Berry’s Collected Poems in my briefcase. What about you?



5 Creativity

It’s almost cliché—the dark, brooding, bipolar, alcoholic novelist who teeters between sanity and insanity. Come to find out, clichés ring true for a reason.

A new study indicates that creative individuals are more likely to suffer from certain mental illnesses, including alcoholism and bipolar disorder. Consider, for instance, the fact that four of the eleven U.S. Nobel laureates in literature were alcoholics. Consider the fact that a study of 30 writers from the Iowa Writer’s Workshop revealed higher-than-normal rates of mood disorders than their professional counterparts. Why, you ask? Jennifer Miller explains in this article for co.CREATE.

Write It by Claire Burge

6 Write-It

“Ralphie’s Haiku”

A Christmas Story:
Orphan Annie decoder,
drink more Ovaltine.

Recognize the poetic form? That’s right, it’s a haiku of the Christmas variety. And though you may think that “haiku” was one of those slurred curse words shouted at the Bumpass’ dogs by Ralphie’s father, if you’ll remember back to your junior-high poetry classes, you’ll recollect that a haiku is a Japanese poetic form made up of seventeen syllables.

Why did I write this haiku tribute to A Christmas Story?  Visit Biographile’s Holiday Haiku Contest to find out.


Poems by Claire Burge

7 Poems

Do you subscribe to Every Day Poems? You should. In addition to receiving wonderful poetry, you’ll also receive beautiful artwork, like that of Holly Friesen. For the low price of $2.99 per year, you will receive Every Day Poems in your email inbox.

This week, Every Day Poems subscribers were privy to When a Man Loves a Woman, he is asked: Soup or Salad, by Kyle McCord. In it, he writes:

When a man loves a woman,
he is asked: Soup or salad?
And though he has trained
his whole life for this,
the man will inquire
about the soup of the day
like the black angel of dichotomies

Be sure to check out this sample of Every Day Poems, and click here to subscribe!


People by Claire Burge

8 People

Anyone familiar with Tweetspeak’s Top Ten Poetic Picks knows that I’m a bit sweet on the United States Poet Laureate, Natasha Trethewey. Her writing is honest, provocative, and reaches across generational and racial divides. Quite simply, I think she’s brilliant. But as much as I respect her writing, I appreciate even more her quest to make poetry accessible to those of us who consider ourselves “ordinary people.”

This piece for the Huffington Post highlights Trethewey’s creativity, energy, and passion for poetry. If you consider yourself one of those ordinary folks with a passion for poetry, you’ll enjoy this article. Make sure to read to the end, where a portion of Trethewey’s Associated Press interview at Delta State University has been transcribed.

Book by Claire Burge

9 Books

The holiday season can be busy—perhaps too busy. And with all the shopping, caroling, and party-going, it seems there’s barely a moment to breathe. But after all the presents have been wrapped, and all the parties have been attended, perhaps you can find the time to rest a spell and catch up on your reading from 2012. Where to start, you ask? I have just the place.

The New York Times has published its list of 100 notable books of 2012, and it’s an amazing list. With selections by Alice Munro, Dave Eggers, and Toni Morrison, there’s something sure to satisfy every reader. Pick a title, carve out some time, and enjoy the best works of 2012 as you prop your mall-weary feet up in front of the fire. And if you read one of the selections, come back here and let us know whether you’d recommend it!


Motion by Claire Burge

10 Sound n Motion

I am an unashamed lover of folk art, regardless of the medium. Today I leave you with a bit of folk poetry set to music. Most people call it bluegrass. I just call it good.

Foghorn Stringband – Be Kind to a Man While He’s Down – Pickathon Beardy Session from Natural Beardy on Vimeo.

Cover photo by SPDP via Creative Commons. 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


  1. says

    Fun haiku; might have to try the Christmas slant myself.

    I left John Coleman a note yesterday about TSP’s own series on Poetry at Work. (I think he must have been reading Glynn’s posts.)

    And I do recommend reading the cowboy poets.

    Thanks for a great roundup, Seth.

  2. L. L. Barkat says

    Loved the Bluegrass!

    My older daughter and I just had a good dance session with that.

    It’s rhythm. That’s a big part of poetry :)


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