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

Mrs. Carson, my second grade teacher, was a real stickler for the rules: no chewing gum in class, raise your hand before speaking, and for the love of all that’s right in the world, do not draw in your books. Books, Mrs. Carson believed, were special, almost sacred. She taught us the words “deface” and “vandal,” (both fairly extreme vocabulary words for second graders, I might add) and reserved use of the terms for those caught doodling in the margins of their readers.

Evidently, Ekaterina Panikanova did not have Mrs. Carson in the second grade, and that’s a good thing for the rest of us. Panikanova, much to Mrs. Carson’s chagrin I am sure, creates stunning works of art using black ink and vintage books. Her works are ambitious, often combining the pages of several open books to create a sort of collage. If you love pen and paper works and have a hint of a rebel-vandal in you, you’ll love Panikanova’s work. You can view some of her works this week at Flavorwire.

News by Claire Burge

2 News

These days, it seems you can’t pick up the newspaper, turn on the television, or surf the internet without stumbling across the burgeoning drone debate. Some cry foul, say we’re living in a brave new world where personal rights are being abrogated. Others claim that drone technology can be used to enhance safety and enforce the laws. Poet David Shook, though? He takes another tact altogether.

Shook, a flower-power poet and activist, has started a Kickstarter campaign to raise $10,000 to purchase his own unmanned drone. He hopes to use the drone to drop “biodegradable antiwar ‘poem bombs’ impregnated with wildflower seeds around the world.” (Only in California, right?) Hoping to reinvent “what drones can do,” Shook seeks to promote discussion of the political responsibility of the artist.

Interested in Shook’s project? You can back his campaign here.

Publishing by Claire Burge

3 Publishing

“I intend to put up with nothing that I can put down.” ― Edgar Allan Poe

Michael Krüger, a publisher at Munich’s Carl Hanser Verlag, is a publishing guru, literature lover, author, and winner of the London Book Fair’s 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award in International Publishing. Within the publishing world he is considered an in-the-know individual. So, when Krüger says the problem with the publishing industry is that “most of the readers love bad books,” your ears might perk up. In this interview with Publishing Perspectives, he notes:

“Since book publishing became a mass-market business, the quality level is constantly sinking. But there are still very good books around, in every country! The problem is that people can’t get them because they are hiding.”

Krüger discusses the translation of international books, the quality of modern literature, and the proliferation of ebooks with Publishing Perspectives. He even modestly proposes that the Nobel Prize for literature should be given on a monthly basis. Quite simply, this is one of the most interesting interviews I’ve read in some time relating to the status of the publishing industry.

Reviews by Claire Burge

4 Business

Sometimes, grand business opportunities seem to present themselves almost by fate. Take for example Dave Kapell, a songwriter whose accidentally blown word clippings spawned the idea of Magnetic Poetry in the 1990s. Do you remember Magnetic Poetry, those word clippings which family members and dinner guests arranged on the refrigerator door to form creative (and often cheeky) works of poetry? It was a grand idea, no doubt, but the fates can be cruel, and as the old adage goes, “easy come; easy go.”

It has been some time since I’ve seen those magnetic word clippings. Is it because Magnetic Poetry was a flash in the pan? Was it a mere novelty? Not so fast, say the folks at Business Insider. Instead, it seems that the decline of Magnetic Poetry is directly tied to the proliferation of stainless steel. What does stainless steel have to do with it?  Read the piece at Business insider to find out.


5 Creativity

In the age where creative status updates rule the web, social media engagement can be difficult. Between photographs of your beach vacation sunburn, pinning recipes you’ll never cook on Pinterest, and jumping into the political issue du jour on Twitter, who has the energy to come up with clever and creative status updates?

Never fear; Earnest Hemingway is here!

The Earnest Hemingway Foundation of Oak Park has teamed up with a design and advertising firm to create a Facebook app that allows users to generate status updates that would make Papa proud. Yes, the Hemingway hijacker allows you to “[l]ive vicariously through a man who was way more interesting than your typical status update.” Give it a spin and see what you think. And if you try it out, let us know what you think.

Write It by Claire Burge

6 Write-It

Are you struggling with writer’s block? Have you hit a creative wall? If so, consider the appropriately titled “Walled In” writing prompt issued this week by Writer’s Digest. In the prompt, the good folks at Writer’s Digest ask you to consider the feeling of being walled in. They ask you to consider your reaction and write it (in 500 words or less). Sounds like a great way to break on through to the other side if you ask me.

I’m a fan of the creative writing prompts at Writer’s Digest. Use them for poetry or prose, fiction or nonfiction. Consider them as pump-primers. But whatever you do, take the prompts, take a pen, grab a journal, and just write it.

Poems by Claire Burge

7 Poems

This month at Tweetspeak, we’ve been playing with the theme “Mirror, Mirror.” The community here has followed our weekly prompts and come up with some amazing original poetry. What’s more, Every Day Poems has gotten into the mix. Consider “Weighing,” a poem by Neil Carpathios that was delivered directly to my inbox by Every Day Poems.

I wonder how much the mirror
would weigh

with nothing in it.

I step away,
step back,
touch glass with fingertips.

Every day I do this,

looking at the face
I’ve earned
with countless joys and griefs.

One day I will shave and do

the ritual not knowing
it is the last time.
Every morning I am rehearsing

saying goodbye to myself.

Do you subscribe to Every Day Poems? Subscribe to receive a daily poem in your inbox for only $5.99 per year! What are you waiting for? Signup today!

People by Claire Burge

8 People

I am a Southerner by choice; my friend Ann Kroeker is a hoosier. She is a guru of intentionality, a slow-down kind of lady; I am a pick-up-the-pace fella, a coffee guzzler. She says Tomato; I say Tomahto. But as stark as these differences might be, we have a great deal in common, including an intense fondness for Wendell Berry.

This week, Ann pointed me to this wonderful article about America’s everyman wordsmith, a piece which was written by his daughter, Mary Berry. In it, Berry’s daughter writes of how he returned to his roots of Henry County, Kentucky. She shares of his return to the land and the recasting of the stories of his home place. Particularly, she sheds light on the story behind The Memory of Old Jack, a particular favorite of mine.

If you are a Wendell Berry enthusiast, don’t miss this touching and beautiful discussion of Wendell Berry.

Book by Claire Burge

9 Books

The dog days of summer are soon approaching. Today, I felt the swelter rising from the asphalt — 94 degrees and only June! In the Ozarks, seeking out a way to beat the heat is a seasonal necessity, and what better way than to pick up a good book of poetry? “Where to start,” you ask? Look no further than the experts at National Public Radio.

This month, NPR listed “5 Books of Poetry to Get You Through the Summer.” Books by Robert Pinsky, Sharon Olds, Brenda Shaughnessy, W.S. Merwin, and David Rakoff made the cut, and NPR gives a brief blurb on each. So, if you’re trying your best to stay out of the summer swelter, if your plan includes curling up with a gallon of ice cream and a good book, try one of these selections on for size. And if you do, come back and leave us a (brief) book report in the comments below!

Motion by Claire Burge

10 Sound n Motion

This week I learned about traditional Afghani oral poems called landays. They are emotive, evocative, and the content of them may surprise you. Enjoy this piece by PBS NewsHour.

Watch Ancient Afghan Poetry Form Adapts to Portray Modern Life on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.

Photo by visualpanic. Creative Commons via Flickr. Article photos by Claire Burge.  Used with permission. Post by Seth Haines.


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  1. says

    Thank you for the Wendell Berry piece. I’ve read every single novel/short story from the Port William Membership. I love this sentence of Mary’s: “That book gave me back my home and it gave me the chance to make amends with my father and then to find out that no amends were necessary.”

  2. says

    Why, I’m so glad you invited me into this Top 10 and included the article I pointed you to! And Megan, I agree with you on that line. The way Wendell handled that? Priceless. Seems like he’s the real deal.

    Thanks for the fun round-up, Seth. I’ve brought up several links to read.

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