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

If you want to warm our little hearts around here, you could use one of those little burny things that a person might ignite for a chemistry experiment. Or, in the interest of fire prevention, you could just put poetry in a place that makes it more accessible to people whose little hearts need it. And if you do that in an artful way, we will love you forever. Okay, that’s a little hyperbole. But the folks at Kavi: The Poetry-Art Project have tempted us by artistically rendering poetry on walls, lamps, wine bottles, and more.

Something as beautiful as poetry deserves to be seen, read and realised more in our day-to-day lives than only breathed in blogs, books, private journals and recitals. (The Hindu)

Or you could go out on the streets and post poetry all over New York like Jay Shells has done with his “Rap Quotes” signs featuring snippets of famous rap songs in the actual locations referenced in the lyrics. (BuzzFeed, Blouin Art Info)

And if you really want to light us up like a blue Bunsen burner flame, you could join in the Phone Poets Project with Patty Paine and post found poems to Instagram to celebrate National Poetry Month. Take a look at Tweetspeak’s new Instagram feed, just in time for the project.

And this? It has nothing to do with posting poetry in unexpected places. But it’s all about seeing horses that remind me of a new coat I got one year for Christmas in an unexpected place like Grand Central Station. Maybe I just dreamed about the coats. Kidding aside, this amazing performance exhibit by Nick Cave features 30 human/horse “sound suits” made of neon raffia, 60 dancers, 80 volunteers, two harpists, one percussionist, and probably a janitor somewhere to sweep up the shedding raffia. And in the midst of all of this? A statement about protest, about identity, about using our voice. (FastCo Design)

News by Claire Burge

2 News

Odds are pretty good if you go down into your basement storeroom, behind the furnace, or perhaps up in your attic next to the little dormer window, you’re going to find a collection of old papers. We all have them. And in my line of work, I’ve seen them floating from one room to another in ankle deep water and listened to more than a few homeowners chastise themselves for not getting rid of them sooner. The way they figure, there wasn’t anything valuable in that pile anyway. But then, I’ve not handled a claim for old Jackie Clarke the fish man of Ballina, Ireland. Sealed away in his “locked room” above the family’s salmon smokehouse, Dublin historian Sinead McCoole has discovered a treasure trove of documents detailing Ireland’s history. She initially planned to stay six weeks. She’s been working in the “locked room” for eight years now. Read about Jackie Clarke’s amazing collection. (New York Times)

Publishing by Claire Burge

3 Publishing

It’s well-known among writers: if you write, you’re going to face rejection. Unless, of course, you don’t submit your work anywhere. If, say, you were to lock it up in old Jackie Clarke’s salmon smokehouse, you probably would never get that cold rejection letter. The question of what to publish is a tricky one, and last week the question was asked here, “Would you publish you?” Apparently, The New Yorker is not so certain it wishes to publish itself. At least that’s what David Cameron found with a little experiment in which he submitted a New Yorker story to a handful of literary journals only to have it rejected. And then to The New Yorker itself, which also rejected it. And then, they all did it again. All that to say, when you get that rejection letter, you’re in good company. (The Review Review)

Reviews by Claire Burge

4 Business

If you’re in business, even if it’s the smoked salmon business, you face stress from time to time. For some business persons, it’s all the time. And you’re well aware of it. We learned this week that National Poetry Month is scheduled for the same month as National Stress Awareness Month. We think that is no mistake. We know reading and writing poetry can help reduce stress.  Huffington Post has a great collection of other stress reducers, which include reading, laughing, chocolate and bringing your dog to work. Thinking here: they all look good, but I’m not sure that your coworkers might need some of those tips when you’re done, if you decide to bring the dog.

Once you’re feeling all relaxed, we need to you get on the stick and get after your readers to do something. That’s what Writer’s Relief says about your author website, anyway. They recommend giving readers and visitors a clear call to action — what is it you want them to do? You’d better tell them. (Huffington Post)


5 Creativity

I was reminded today of a brief episode of being creatively blocked, which I had promptly blamed on one Julia Cameron, since I had just started writing Morning Pages. The frustration and angst associated with blockage can be all-consuming in the moment, but Alexi Murdoch suggests that perhaps there is something to be gained from being blocked by itself. In a collection of wisdom by Alex Cornell, Murdoch challenges the notion that we must break through the block the moment it arrives:

At the risk of going off brief here, can I just ask: What’s wrong with creative block? Might it not just be that periods — even extended ones — of productive hiatus are essential mechanisms of gestation designed to help us attain higher standards in our pursuit of creative excellence? (Brain Picker)

Write It by Claire Burge

6 Write-It

If you’ve decided to go ahead and let your creative block roll, but still want to participate in April’s National Poetry Month (yes, contrary to some reports, it is not a March celebration), you could let the new Haiku Bot from the New York Times write your 30/30 poems for you. Of course, we think a haiku infographic would do you more good. But go ahead and ride that block to its bitter end and squeeze all greater creative excellence from it you can. (Black Book Mag)

When you write that haiku despite your block, be ready for the possibility of rejection with this new Rejection Letter Bingo game card. I have to wonder which of these boxes that New Yorker article went through. (Writer’s Digest)

Poems by Claire Burge

7 Poems

We’re featuring Dragons and Creatures this month at Every Day Poems, which creates a space for all kinds of interesting critters in our daily offerings. For example, I started my Tuesday morning with a caterpillar. Or worms. Or I don’t know, maybe it was a woman’s eyebrow.

The Woman Who Loved Worms 

(from a Japanese legend)
Disdaining butterflies
as frivolous,
she puttered with caterpillars,
and wore a coarse kimono,
crinkled and loose at the neck.
Refused to tweeze her brows
to crescents,
and scowled beneath dark bands
of caterpillar fur.

Read the rest of The Woman Who Loved Worms 

When we saw this poem by Michael Dylan Welch in VQR’s Instagram project yesterday, I promised I’d make sure it slithered into today’s post.


Imagine yourself a snake.
Lie on the floor right where you are.
Take off your arms, even your shoulders.

Read the rest of Snake

 People by Claire Burge

8 People

Stephen Colbert is one of the few forces that justifies television’s continued existence. Put him across the table from an author, and the world just instantly is set a little righter. The good folks at Book Riot compiled a set of six great author interviews with Colbert. You might set aside a little time to watch these, including Maurice Sendak and Ann Patchett. I would have included Julie Andrews as well, but they didn’t attempt to reach me for comment. (Book Riot)

Book by Claire Burge

9 Books

In much the same way a writer tries to outrun his writer’s block, it seems we also wish to flee the condition of boredom. In his new work, Prose of the World: Modernism and the Banality of Empire, Saikat Majumdar explores the importance of the “daily drudge” and “oppressive monotony.”

When my students ask me, ‘What do you think makes for really modern literature?’ I say that there are obviously many other factors, but one really important factor is to be able to make the trivial central.

Stanford News has a fascinating review of this new book.

In a review of Dean Young’s latest book, Bender: New and Selected Poems, Drew Calvert suggests that Young’s work “channels the spirit of a stand-up comic.” But more than just the punchline, Calvert goes on, Young understands that “humor lets us laugh at the absurdity of our lives, and gives us access to impulses we consider taboo.  It can also be a form of empathy even at its darkest.” Another one for my reading list. (The Common)

Motion by Claire Burge

10 Sound n Motion

I love silence. One of my most peaceful moments of the day is the power-down tour I take through my house each morning after my family leaves the house and I shut off all the electronic items left on. I feel the quiet move into my body as I go. But sound is significant, too. I like it best when it’s purposeful, and not just random noise. I found this short video showing the effect of sound on water to be simply fascinating — and not only because it made sound something that is seen rather than heard. Take a look.

Cover photo by Patty Paine, as featured in the Phone Poets Project on Instagram, celebrating National Poetry Month. Article photos by Claire Burge.  Used with permission. Post by Lyla Willingham Lindquist.

Buy a year of Every Day Poems, just $5.99 — Read a poem a day, become a better poet. In April we’re exploring the theme Dragons and Creatures.

Every Day Poems Driftwood


  1. says

    I *love* the power-down tour! (Did you remember to shut off the Bunsen burner? :) )

    Patty Paine’s found poems are beautiful. And all it seems to have required is a phone (no torch necessary :) )

    Laughing all the way this morning, as always. You and Colbert need to do an interview together.

  2. says

    I really enjoyed the Colbert author tour. I think Ann Patchett was my favorite because she could actually keep up with him. But Stephen drawing with Maurice Sendak–oh, my!

    • says

      My A-HA! moment of the day came when this got me to thinking about fluorescent light bulbs (I have for a long time considered the fluorescent bulbs to be an assault on stillness but I didn’t know exactly why – they just bothered me. I can hear them. I can feel them. ). I asked my scientist husband and he told me that they emit a 60hz sine wave – I can’t help but consider the motion action on the human body, made up of mostly water… imagine the motion? I can, now that I have seen this. Consider our schools are lighted with mostly fluorescent light bulbs, and now these are increasing all that are available for our homes. Lyla’s “powering down” really resonates here (no pun intended, but not bad 😉 ) and I can feel the “unwinding” as each device goes off. It takes me back about 100 years when my kindergarten students and I became mysteriously edgy I found the best remedy was to turn out all the lights (we had lots of windows for natural light). We all responded to this sudden glorious feeling of stillness. We were able to feel our own rhythms again.


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