Sunday, July 26, 2009

On Vacation!

Things seem to be slowing down here at poem. It's summer in our neck of the woods, and everyone is working on "summer brain." To give the poets we feature the most "exposure," we think it would be a great, relaxing, standing in the surf kind of idea to take a wee summer vacation.

We'll see you in September!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Time to post your own sleep poems

Now is the time for all good poets to post their sleep poems!

If you wrote a poem in response to Dorianne Laux's How to Sleep, please leave a link to your poem in the comments section. Please be sure to poke around and read some other sleep-inspired poems while you're at it!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

To sleep, perchance to poem...

I guess the soothing repetition of this week's poem lulled us into a poetic sleep here at poem. This is our second week , and, were we not asleep at the wheel, we might have posted sooner to remind you that this is the week you contemplate Dorianne Laux's How to Sleep and the poem it might inspire you to write.

Read How to Sleep again. Copy it by hand into a journal before you fall asleep and see if you dream a poem in response. Did you enjoy Laux's long drawn-out phrases? Try your hand at some of your own. What is your own prescription for sleep? How do you prepare for the "veil of ethers"?

If a poem about sleep isn't your cup of (sleepytime) tea, how about a "How to" poem?

Whatever you are inspired to write, stop by next week and post a link to your poem! We'll leave the light on for you!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Dorianne Laux's How to Sleep

It's a brand new Sunday in a brand new month, so that means a brand new poem for us to discuss! This month, we invite you to read Dorianne Laux's How to Sleep. Just click on the name of the poem to follow the link to Verse Daily.

Take the poem to bed with you. Read it as you fall asleep, read it the minute you wake up in the morning. Trouble sleeping? Sit up in the middle of your tossing and turning and read the poem aloud.

Stop by all this week and discuss the poem with your fellow poets/sleepers.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

June's week four free-for-all

Things are still pretty quiet over here at "poem," but we're chugging along. The fourth week in our virtual writing group represents the closing (networking and sharing) segment of an IRL writing group. So let's wrap up and begin looking forward to next time:
  • What do you think it would be like to go on vacation with other famous poets?
  • What's on your reading list when you go on vacation over the next couple of months (summer for the northern hemisphere)?
  • What kinds of conflicts do you face as a writer when the line gets blurry between poet and narrator?
  • What ideas do you have for "poem" in the coming months?
It's a free-for-all!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Call for poems

It's time to show us how Kelli's poem and the discussion inspired your own writing this week. Post your links here in the comments section and then wash up on the shore of your fellow bloggers' poems. See you soon!

(If you need to catch up, you can read "Vacationing with Sylvia Plath" -- and join the discussion, which is one we're still thinking about -- and then use the writing prompt to get you going on your own piece.)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Time to write your own poems!

This month's poem, Vacationing With Sylvia Plath, by Kelli Russell Agodon, generated quite a bit of lively discussion! Thank you to everyone who shared their thoughtful comments and critique!

This week, it's your turn to write a poem. Read Vacationing again. How does it inspire you? What images come to mind? Do you have an ocean memory? A vacation memory? What are the little things that pull you under? Perhaps, as we suggested, you spent some time with Sylvia Plath. What did you discover while hanging with Sylvia? How was your time together/vacation?

Whatever this month's poem inspired in you--write it! Then, come back next week and share a link to your poem.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Vacationing With Sylvia Plath by Kelli Russell Agodon

Hi everyone! This month’s poem is by Kelli Russell Agodon, from her collection Small Knots.

Read it once, twice, three times. Read it aloud. Watch your breath. Try to pace yourself so your reading flows like the sea.

Make note of your impressions, the thoughts inspired by the poem. If you feel so motivated, read a little Plath, then come back to the poem.

Whatever your thoughts are, be sure to come back and leave them in the comments section. Then, Tuesday, June 16, stop back and check out our writing prompt based on the poem.


PS: We still have a collaborative sestina that needs some tender loving poem-ing! Check it out and give us some poetry love!


Vacationing With Sylvia Plath

Maybe I should have come alone.

Maybe if the clouds didn’t resemble
tombstones and I had brought something
more upbeat to read
the ocean wouldn’t seem so final—
an ongoing thought carried to shore
then taken away,
washing the same green sock
over and over again.

Maybe if I was taking medication
or at least St. John’s Wort,
maybe if I had a chocolate bar
to eat between breakdowns
the seagull’s cry would be more of a sigh
and the waves wouldn’t seem so blue.

Maybe a lot of things. Maybe
if I could slip into Sylvia’s mind,
sort out the spices in her spice rack,
alphabetize them and dust them off.
Maybe then I’d understand how
it’s the little things that pull you under.

from Small Knots (Cherry Grove Collections, 2004)

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Call for poems inspired by "Evaporation"

We are so pleased to have been discussing Brent Goodman's poem "Evaporation" this month, and we can't wait to see where the inspirations and challenges have taken you! Leave links to your poems in the comments section of this post, and be sure to go visit the poems of your fellow virtual poetry group members.

Yes, we know this post is going up Saturday, a day early, and we know how much this may shock you. However, Jill is traveling for the holiday weekend (Memorial Day here in the U.S.), and on Sunday, Carolee will be "celebrating" the holiday weekend at a leisurely and delightful cookout with friends. Yes, all day. And into the night.

In case you've missed all the excitement this month, here's how you can catch up: 1) study the poem "Evaporation" and join the discussion; 2) consider the writing prompt and write a poem of your own; and finally, 3) post a link to your poem here!

Friday, May 22, 2009

We interrupt this broadcast...

This just in... poem. has been selected by University Reviews Online as one of the Top 100 Poetry Blogs! See it here:

Wow! And just think, every one of our readers, writers and commentators, all of you, are part of the magic! Thank you! Thank you!

Now back to our regularly scheduled program!

PS: Please also note, one of our sister projects, Read. Write. Poem. was also selected! If you've never visited, now's the time!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

poem condensation follows "evaporation"

Now that you have read and discussed Brent Goodman's "Evaporation" (here), it's time to write your own poems. When something evaporates into the air, it does (under the right conditions) return to a physical form. Let your muse, your reading and the stories around you condense into a poem from this week's prompt(s).

Feel free to write from anything the poem inspires in you, but here are some ideas in case you need help:
  • Write a poem with a first line about someone other than yourself.
  • Write a poem that tells a story about someone you know (or someone you read about in the newspaper). Weave into it the ways in which the story has affected you.
  • Write a poem about the scientific aspects of evaporation or condensation, or write a poem about another scientific phenomenon. Using Brent's example, don't allow the science to rule the poem. Instead, use it to enhance the poem's imagery.
  • Write a poem about something you missed.
  • Write a poem using repetition. What many of us like about "Evaporation" is how the repetition sets the pace by creating a halting or hesitating motion. See what you can do with repetition.
Don't post your links yet! Come back next Sunday for a chance to share your poem with your fellow poemers.Link

Sunday, May 10, 2009

evaporation, by brent goodman

This month, poet Brent Goodman has given us permission to discuss one of his poems. We've selected "Evaporation," which appeared December 30, 2008, as the weekly installment of Linebreak.

Read the poem several times. What are your first impressions? What story is the narrator telling? How does he feel about the story? Remember: for purposes of discussion, always assume the narrator is different from the poet. In your initial read of the piece, try to simply absorb the characters, the settings, the images, the "happenings" and the emotions.

Then read the poem out loud. Read it out loud again, but slower this time.

How has the poet crafted the piece? What devices is he using to deliver you the images, happenings and emotions you grabbed the first-time through? Remember: the poet is the author. He has placed his words exactly how he wants them to "make" the poem. On these reads, think about things like repetition of phrases or sounds, stanza breaks -- or the lack of them and line length. Think about the strength of each word: how precise the verbs are (cuts, splices, confides) and how specific the nouns are (MGB instead of "car" and moraines instead of "hills" or "ridges").

Use the comments section to discuss any of these ideas or let us know what the poem brings out in you. Next week, we'll propose a writing prompt based on our discussion!


Brent's debut poetry collection, The Brother Swimming Beneath Me (2009), is available from Black Lawrence Press. He is the author of two chapbooks: Trees are the Slowest Rivers and the award-winning Wrong Horoscope.

Be sure to go visit Brent at his blog (the brother swimming beneath me) to thank him for offering up "Evaporation" to us and to encourage him in his recovery from a recent heart attack. He's making wonderful progress!


Administrative note: As you may have noticed, we got off track a bit last month. We're catching up now. If you're interested in how it happened, you can check the housekeeping note here. Welcome back!

back on track

Hi, everyone! Even though we stress our relaxed tempo over here at "poem," our hope is to follow a schedule that reasonably resembles a weekly (Sunday) posting. In April, we really didn't make it. April was my month to post, and I spent half of the month in Maine with my mother, father and sister through the final week of my mom's battle with cancer and then, following her death, attending the service and just being together. It's complicated by the fact that I live nine hours away.

When I wasn't there or traveling there, I was at home in New York trying to handle "normal" life with three young boys. It didn't leave much time for things like blogging. Jill did her best to patch up the holes, but her daughter had pneumonia. So we just did the best we could.

With any luck, now, we're back on track. I'm getting ready now to post our poem for discussion. I hope you're still with us! And please be sure to let us know if you'd like to be added under "members" in the sidebar. (You can email Jill at the address she's provided in the sidebar.)


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

free-for-all week: get up close and personal with an insect

Hi all! We're still recovering from National Poetry Month around here! If you participated in napowrimo, leave us a note in the comments and tell us how it went for you!

In other news, although you may have had your share of prompts the past four weeks, we couldn't resist just one more... Our free-for-all this week is a Moth-based writing prompt: a little research, a little examinaiton, a little poetry. Here's what you are invited to do:

  1. Choose an insect: a moth would be great, but there are so many more! ladybug, ant, beetle, stink bug...
  2. Google your insect. Gather all the information you can: names of body parts, full-color photos, mating habits, gestation periods, habitat, folk lore... Pull together every bit of information you can about your chosen insect.
  3. After you have all your information, write a poem from the viewpoint of the insect.
  4. Stuck? Need some inspiration? Try starting your poem with "When I was a..." or "I am a..."
  5. Of course, as with all of our prompts, these are just suggestions. And this is just a free-for-all. So, as long as your poem is insect related, anything goes. Post a link to your poem all week long. Come back Sunday to see what new poet and new poem we have chosen for the next month's discussion.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

call for poems

It's time for your own Moth-inspired poems!

From today until next Sunday, you can post links to your poems in the comment section. Be sure to visit all your fellow poets and check out their creations!

Next weekend, we'll post a free-for-all (any suggestions on something you all would like to do or see?). Then, on Sunday, May 10 (Happy Mother's Day!), we will have a new poet and poem up for discussion.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Now for your own poems...

Hello, hello. Here we are. Please excuse the delay in posting!

We hope you enjoyed Ivy Alvarez's Moth! This week, it is time to do some writing of your own. For those of you participating in the NaPoWriMo madness, consider this one more prompt to keep your muse on his/her toes!

First, read the poem again. It is deceptively simple. Take notes on what the poem stirs up in you and write your own poem. What draws you in? What are your "dry wings?" Do you court danger? When have you found yourself "against the glass/ wings pressed towards the light"? You might even try taking a line from the poem (be sure to credit your muse!) and writing from there.

When we post again next week (on or about April 26), we'll ask you to share what you wrote. In the comments section of that post, you can publish a free write, draft or finished piece, or you can publish a permalink to something on your own blog.

PS: While we do ask that you save your poems until next week, do feel free to leave comments in this post about how you have been inspired by Moth. And do hop over to Ivy's site to purchase your very own copy of Mortal!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

moth, by ivy alvarez

A new month, a new poem! This one is from the collection mortal by Ivy Alvarez (poem reprinted here with her permission).

Read it again and again. Read it out loud as many times as the people around you will tolerate. Send it to your friends. Think about the words, the sounds, the images. Share your thoughts about it in the comments section of this post, just as though you were sitting around a circle at a "real life" poetry group. Discuss the piece 'til your heart's content. (Next week, we'll offer a prompt based on the discussion.)


pale white body against the glass
wings pressed towards the light

I am a pulse
I cannot stop beating, beating
so drawn to the alien thing

there is no time to care
the light beckons and I am there

call me ephemeral

soon the crickets will sing their cacophony
and the grass will have my dry wings


And don't forget about our collaborative sestina here. Contribute some lines?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

A collaborative sestina! Why not!

We have something special in the works...we really do. In the meantime, we thought it might be fun to try some collaborative poetry--even more fun if we try a collaborative sestina!

The form appears complicated, but can be broken down pretty simply: 6 stanzas of six lines each. Each stanza uses the same six end words, in a different order in each stanza.

To be clear:
Stanza 1: 123456
Stanza 2: 615243
Stanza 3: 364125
Stanza 4: 532614
Stanza 5: 451362
Stanza 6: 246531

To begin, we will need people to contribute our first six lines. Whatever words each person's line ends with will become our six repeated words. So give it some thought!

To keep it simple, each time you contribute a line, please cut and paste the previous lines into your new comment.

Off we go!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

call for poems

So, did you pen a sestina? Were you pensive about writing in a form? Whatever your pencil was inspired to produce after reading and discussing Denise Duhamel's Delta Flight 659, we can't wait to see it!

From today until next Sunday, you can post links to your poems in the comment section. Be sure to visit all your fellow poets and read their penultimate poetry!

Next weekend, we'll post a free-for-all (be sure to stop by and see the surprise!). Then, on Sunday, April 5, we will welcome National Poetry Month with a new poet and poem up for discussion.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Time to write your own poems!

First, Carolee and I would like to thank everyone who participated in the great discussion of Denise Duhamel’s Delta Flight 659 last week! The exchange of ideas by a community of varied thinkers is exactly what we had in mind when we envisioned this site!

Now, on to the prompt. After so much discussion, it’s clear there are myriad ways to be inspired by this poem. Will it be a mock sestina using only one end word? A celebrity poem? What poem would you write to help deal with your fears? Perhaps you want to try your hand at a traditional sestina. If so, here’s a quick link.

Whatever Duhamel’s poem inspired in you, write it! And be sure to come back next Sunday, March 22, and post a link to your poem. And, hey, if you have an idea for a prompt related to this poem, leave your idea in the comments section this week. No poems, please! Save those for next week!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Delta Flight 659: to Sean Penn, by Denise Duhamel

Welcome to poem: an online poetry salon, of sorts! Our poem for the month of March is Denise Duhamel's Delta Flight 659: to Sean Penn from her latest collection of poetry, Ka-Ching!

Read it once, twice, or twenty times. Read it out loud. Read it to a friend. Copy it into your favorite notebook, word by word. Absorb the poem. Be the poem. Consider the poem. When you're ready to talk, you are invited to stop by and discuss the poem in the comments section.

Next week, we'll post a prompt for writing your own piece inspired by the poem. Thanks for stopping by! Enjoy the poem!

Delta Flight 659
to Sean Penn

I’m writing this on a plane, Sean Penn,
with my black Pilot Razor ball point pen.
Ever since 9/11, I’m a nervous flyer. I leave my Pentium
Processor in Florida so TSA can’t x-ray my stanzas, penetrate
my persona. Maybe this should be in iambic pentameter,
rather than this mock sestina, each line ending in a Penn

variant. I convinced myself the ticket to Baghdad was too expensive.
I contemplated going as a human shield. I read, in open-
mouthed shock, that your trip there was a $56,000 expenditure.
Is that true? I watched you on Larry King Live—his suspenders
and tie, your open collar. You saw the war’s impending
mess. My husband gambled on my penumbra

of doubt. “So you station yourself at a food silo in Iraq. What happens
to me if you get blown up?” He begged me to stay home, be his Penelope.
I sit alone in coach, but last night I sat with four poets, depending
on one another as readers, in a Pittsburgh café. I tried to be your pen
pal in 1987, not because of your pensive
bad boy looks, but because of a poem you’d penned

that appeared in an issue of Frank. I still see the poet in you, Sean Penn.
You probably think fans like me are your penance
for your popularity, your star bulging into a pentagon
filled with witchy wanna-bes and penniless
poets who waddle towards your icy peninsula
of glamour like so many menacing penguins.

But honest, I come in peace, Sean Penn,
writing on my plane ride home. I want no part of your penthouse
or the snowy slopes of your Aspen.
I won’t stalk you like the swirling grime cloud over Pig Pen.
I have no script or stupendous
novel I want you to option. I even like your wife, Robin Wright Penn.

I only want to keep myself busy on this flight, to tell you of four penny-
loafered poets in Pennsylvania
who, last night, chomping on primavera penne
pasta, pondered poetry, celebrity, Iraq, the penitentiary
of free speech. And how I reminded everyone that Sean Penn
once wrote a poem. I peer out the window, caress my lucky pendant:

Look, Sean Penn, the clouds are drawn with charcoal pencils.
The sky is opening like a child’s first stab at penmanship.
The sun begins to ripen orange, then deepen.

(reprinted by permission of author)

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

welcome to poem. redux 2009

Welcome to poem. a virtual poetry group. jill & carolee, poets, artists, moms, have tried for years to gather our poet friends together for weekly or bi-weekly poetry meetings, to no avail. While we do, on a pretty regular basis, get together IRL to write (dish) and talk about poetry (husbands, crushes, our hair), we still have a mad desire for more talk about poetry. Resourceful Northern girls that we are (born and raised on the far east coast where life is tough and women are tougher), we decided to create our own poetry writing/discussion group, right here in the blogosphere.

That's how poem. will work--just like a weekly poetry group, only we have decided to space things out just a bit to accommodate all of our busy lives. (And no-one can see how much you're eating or drinking amidst all the discussion!)

Week one:
At the beginning of every month we will post a link to a poem by a well-known or lesser-known poet. Read and re-read the poem. Take notes. Read it aloud. Make copies and pass them out to friends, family and strangers! Join us all week in discussing the poem. What worked for you, what didn't. Words you liked. Questions you have. A virtual classroom (coffee shop, bar), you might say.

Week two:
We will post a prompt related to the poem.

Week three:
Participants can post the link to their response to the prompt for comment & critique.

Week four:
Week four is a free week. Stop by for surprises. This time around, we're hoping to have interviews with our featured poets, maybe even a virtual Q&A, if the poet is willing (tricked, coerced, kidnapped)!

At the beginning of the next month, we'll do it all over again with a new and amazing poem!

Stay tuned for our first poet & poem, arriving on Sunday, March 8. (Sunday will be the day we'll try to launch each week's activity. Add us to your Google reader or other thing-a-ma-bob so you don't miss the slow beating of our sincere little hearts.)