Amanda Gorman's New Year's Poem 'New Day's Lyric'

Amanda Gorman is the youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history, as well as an award-winning writer and cum laude graduate of Harvard University, where she studied Sociology. She has written for the New York Times and released three books in 2021. She is a committed advocate for the environment, racial equality, and gender justice. This is her latest poem, "New Day's Lyric." 

Words from a wisdom keeper

Joy Harjo is the current Poet Laureate of the United States. She is “Native,” “Indigenous,” of the Muscogee/Creek (Mvskoke) “Native Nations” as she likes to identify herself. I have followed her and her work — as a poet in the literary tradition and warrior in the tribal, indigenous tradition — for a long time. Long enough to watch her grow from a budding young poet to the wisdom-keeper she has now become in her early seventies. 

It’s National Poetry Month: Join the party!

Time to party, everyone!

April is here, and along with warmer weather, blossoms and flowers, and grass grown green, April is National Poetry Month, and this year marks the 25th anniversary of this celebration.

Poetry and pandemic: Let’s celebrate National Poetry Month?

“Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote,” The Canterbury Tales begins, “the droghte of Marche hath perced to the roote….”

A poet of the mountains

This past weekend was given over to reorganizing the books in my home library. In the process, I relocated a volume of poems I had feared was long lost. 

My favorite “Appalachian” poets would be Robert Morgan, Kay Stripling Byer, and James Still. 

The story of a Beat original

Once upon a time there was a poet named Bob Kaufman. He hadn’t spoken in anything resembling normal language in almost 12 years. Having taken a vow of silence as his own personal protest against American hyprocrisy and racial injustice, Bob Kaufman is probably the most important and unheralded of all the Beat generation literary luminaries. He was the true original. In the streets. On target. Under the radar. Yet at the forefront, breaking all the barriers. 

A look at The Best Loved Poems of the American People

Two years ago in December, I vowed to read the 11-volume set of Will and Ariel Durant’s The Story of Civilization in 12 months. Unlike resolutions made for New Years and Lent, some of which I break before the sun has set, I read those fat books one after the other and finished the final page with time to spare.

The poetry of freedom

One of the most alluring and enduring qualities of the art of poetry is the vast spectrum of forms it may take — neat or free-wheeling, broad or tidy, emotional or intellectual, progressive or traditional. 

This weekend, Jackson County aficionados can experience most all of that, in the same place, at the same time. 

Fred Chappell releases new poetry collection

The purpose of a writer is to take observations on life and distill those sights and sounds into words and sentiments reflecting the way the wind is blowing at a particular juncture in time. 

It’s also a purpose as to show the reader just how common and repetitive the themes of human nature are throughout the centuries and millennia. For we as a species tend to not stray far from our usual thoughts and actions: love and hate, fear and compassion, war and peace. 

Still jazzy after all these years

I first discovered Lawrence Ferlinghetti in high school and his book Starting From San Francisco and have read everything he’s ever published. I wrote my junior thesis paper for my English major in college on the light and dark imagery in his poetry. 

In his new book, Litte Boy, practically the whole narrative is concerned with light and dark imagery — in all their guises. Apparently he is still working all that out. I also had the good fortune to be his neighbor in the North Beach community of San Francisco in the 1970s and to spend valuable time with him, first as a member of my generational entourage, then as a friend and collaborator on protest and benefit events and publishing projects during that decade. So, I know Lawrence Ferlinghetti and much of his life story. And his memoiristic “novel” Little Boy, which was just published on his 100th birthday in March, is a stream of consciousness portrayal of those 100 years. 

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