November 18, 2017

National Book Awards in Poetry

The National Book Foundation have announced its winners of National Book Awards in fiction, nonfiction, poetry and young people’s literature. Each winner will be awarded $10,000, and each finalist will take home $1,000.

For Poetry, the winnner is Frank Bidart for Half-light: Collected Poems 1965-2016

Leslie Harrison, The Book of Endings (University of Akron Press)

Layli Long Soldier, WHEREAS (Graywolf Press)

Shane McCrae, In the Language of My Captor (Wesleyan University Press)

Danez Smith, Don’t Call Us Dead: Poems (Graywolf Press) finalists:


Books on the judges' long list are:

Chen Chen, When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities (BOA Editions, Ltd.)
Marie Howe, Magdalene: Poems (W. W. Norton & Company)
Laura Kasischke, Where Now: New and Selected Poems (Copper Canyon Press)
Sherod Santos, Square Inch Hours (W. W. Norton & Company)
Mai Der Vang, Afterland (Graywolf Press)

The judges for poetry were Nick Flynn, Jane Mead, Gregory Pardlo, Richard Siken, Monica Youn (Chair).


November 17, 2017

Poets Online Offline

You may have noticed that the main Poets Online site went offline for the past 24 hours. This was due to server issues with our host. 

It is back, hopefully stable and complete.  

This and the ending of the year is a good time for me to consider the future of the site in 2018.  

More to follow... I may be asking all of you for your advice.


November 8, 2017

Prompt: Two Voices

Richard Wilbur died on October 15, 2017, in Belmont, Massachusetts at age 96. He was an American poet and literary translator, and one of the foremost poets of his generation. He composed primarily in traditional forms and his poems had wit and what might today be considered a "gentlemanly elegance."

It is unfortunate that it sometimes takes the death of a writer for me to go back and look at their work again. I suppose that it is a good thing whenever we do go back and read their work and put our living breath into their words.

I chose for this month's prompt his poem "Two Voices in a Meadow."  It looks on the page like two poems, but they are connected by the location in the meadow.  As the title says, these are two different voices - a milkweed personified and the voice of a stone.

Monarch butterflies on milkweed

A Milkweed

Anonymous as cherubs
Over the crib of God,
White seeds are floating
Out of my burst pod.
What power had I
Before I learned to yield?
Shatter me, great wind:
I shall possess the field

A Stone

As casual as cow-dung
Under the rib of God,
I lie where chance would have me,
Up to the ears in sod.
Why should I move? To move
Befits a light desire.
The sill of heaven would founder,
Did such as I aspire.

I suppose these two voices are opposites - one living, one not. Of course, the milkweed will have its season and die, and the stone was once living material. Their attitudes are quite different about their current place in this meadow world.

For this month, you are to write a poem in two voices. The structure should look, as the model poem, like two poems in two distinct sections. The voices can be those of people or things or a combination, but they must both be addressing the same topic. That might be a location, as in Wilbur's poem, or any theme or subject.

Wilbur uses form and rhyme in his poem and that does give it a neat structure. You may want to try the same. His 8-line sections are not a triolet or an octave, but you may want to use a form for both of your voices.