“What Should You Learn From Rejection Letters?”

The first article in my new series for Read Write Poem is now available, tackling the painful and often taboo topic of rejection letters head-on. It’s not something poets tend to admit to receiving, let alone talk about with their peers.

Yet rejection is a natural and necessary (albeit sometimes painful) part of the writing business. Asking what you can get out of the experience is just plain smart. So, in that spirit, I have done my best to serve up fairly simple, practical advice with a dash of humor and a healthy side of encouragement.

I hope you enjoy it!

Poetry Book Titles: a Quick, Fun Poll for Everyone

I have been reflecting on postmodernism and poetry, and came up with the idea of a quick, easy poll to help develop some of these thoughts.

Care to help me out? You don’t have to know a thing about poetry to participate. For each title in bold, simply click “poetry” if you think it sounds like the title of a poetry book, or “prose” if you think it sounds like a prose book’s title.

Ready? Here we go.

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“You Should Write a Poem About That!”

Sound the Poetry Alarm! It tends to go like this: we are having an interesting conversation, bantering a bit, and then one of us says something clever, or strange, and oftentimes a little surreal. Out comes the phrase, directed at me with all the sincere enthusiasm of a revelation. Of the friends, colleagues, and relatives who know that I write poems, it is uncanny how many have, at one time or another, exclaimed to me, “You should write a poem about that!”

Owing to its frequency, it gets old. But apart from that, the response also intrigues me. It is different than the response comedians complain about, where, upon learning of their peculiar profession, new acquaintances will fold their arms and scowl, “Oh yeah? Then say something funny.” Instead, the “you should write…” remark is approving, a kind of conspiratorial wink-and-nudge. It is as if, through our conversation, they have stumbled momentarily in to the head-space where I, as a poet, must constantly reside — a land tinkling with musical profundity and linguistic charm. Alas, that ain’t always where I’m at.
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A Week in Hyperdrive

Warp speed ahead!Normally, as the weeks roll by, I get up early to write, read in the evenings after work, and collect the occasional acceptance or rejection slip from the mailbox. By contrast, this week felt like the equivalent of some kind of poetry hyperdrive, including:

Phew! Time to get back to my day job, so I can get some rest.

Thesis Approved

I got final approval on my MFA thesis from my faculty advisor this morning. In celebration, here is one of my favorite clips on the perils of being a closet academic. (Note: this video contains strong language and adult themes — that is, if you can understand what is being said!)

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/v/UH7Aix_SSN8]<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UH7Aix_SSN8" target="_blank">Click here to watch the video.</a>

Monty Python on Poetry

In case, like me, you may have been taking yourself a bit too seriously lately, please enjoy what may be one of the strangest Monty Python sketches in history, featuring three of the big six of Romantic poetry, ants, the queen, and lots of sherry — all conveniently subtitled in Spanish:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/v/2sDYmnk07i8]<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/2sDYmnk07i8" target="_blank">Click here to watch the video.</a>