Stellar Audio of Megan Volpert, Deborah Poe, & Laura Mullen


For some excellent poetry readings, perk up your ears here:

Deborah Poe –

Megan A. Volpert –

Laura Mullen –



Daisy Fried’s Poetry Exercises


Daisy Fried on Poetry:

* I’ve never found an explanation for why poetry, apparently alone among the art forms, is asked to do more than be itself.

* But poetry’s the High Art which is also democratic: inexpensive, portable, reproducible, quickly consumed (except for epic and very difficult poetry), requiring only literacy to participate. So maybe it’s good that poetry carries this extra burden, even if it means that the idea of poetry is more necessary to people than individual poems, and that people tend not to pay attention to what’s happening on the page. But this doesn’t explain why the superfluous demands are often made by educated poetry experts. I doubt most poets, good and bad, political or not, put these demands on their own work. Why should we make them of poetry in general?

* Words matter. Use is not function. War and Peace makes an excellent paperweight; I’ve used it that way myself, after reading it. The function of War and Peace is greater than its many uses. So too poetry. Bad poems are often more useful for healing, persuasion, and celebration than good ones. They lack that rich ambiguity which Keats called negative capability, and so fail as poems. Take, for example, bad 9/11 poems, at which I do “sniff the air.” There are good 9/11 poems. The degraded Romanticism of the mass of bad ones often amounts to decorative displays of the poet’s own sensibility. Such displays may be emotionally or politically useful, but who needs them? They seem to claim authenticity for individual experiences derived from watching TV—and fail to ask the question, why do these people want to kill us? Good 9/11 poems sustain the possibility that America was both victim and guilty. I believe 9/11 solace poetry has given support, however indirectly and unintentionally, to the Bush administration. Solace poetry is to serious poetry as pornography is to serious art. Sex pornography has its uses, even positive ones, but nobody confuses it with serious art about love. The difference between solace porn and sex porn is that solace pornographers seldom seem aware that they’re making pornography. Shame on them.* Poetry matters. Great poems don’t always fit categories of usage: Martial’s hilariously filthy invectives, Dickinson’s apolitical lyrics, and, despite their stupid fascism, Pound’s Cantos, all function as great poetry. Meanwhile, the four of us write poems. We might begin by intending to be merely useful (I never have). But at some point the poem takes over, makes requirements of us instead of vice versa. That’s the moment of poetry; poems exist to let readers share in that moment. So our focus on mere use strikes me as odd: is this really all we know about our poems? Why exclude ourselves from our own readership?

* Enjoyment matters. Poetry is fun! I mean this seriously. In “Lapis Lazuli,” Yeats insists on the gaiety of human existence alongside its tragedy. Yes, there is terrible suffering; we are all going to die. And when, on the carved lapis lazuli, a man “asks for mournful melodies;/Accomplished fingers begin to play;/…their eyes,/Their ancient, glittering eyes, are gay.” The gaiety of great poetry reinforces and deepens our humanity. That’s personal—and therefore social. Forget that, and we forget poetry’s true function.

–from “Does Poetry Have a Social Function” @ The Poetry Foundation

Listen in on a conversation I had with Daisy Fried HERE: powered by ODEO


1. Write a ten-line poem in which each line is a lie.

2. Write a poem that tells a story in 18 lines or less, and includes at least four proper nouns.

3. Write a poem that uses any of the senses EXCEPT SIGHT as its predominant imagery.

4. Write a poem inspired by a newspaper article you read this week.

5. Write a poem without adjectives.

6. Ask your roommate/neighbor/lover/friend/mother/anyone for a subject (as wild as they want to make it) for a ten-minute poem. Now write a poem about that subject in ten minutes; make it have a beginning, a middle and an end.

7. Write the worst poem you possibly can. Now edit it and make it even worse.

8. Poem subject: A wind blows something down. Or else it doesn’t. Write it in ten minutes.

9. Write a poem with each line, or at least many of the lines, filling in the blanks of “I used to________, but now I_________.”

11. Write a poem consisting entirely of things you’d like to say, but never would, to a parent, lover, sibling, child, teacher, roommate, best

friend, mayor, president, corporate CEO, etc.

12. Write a poem that uses as a starting point a conversation you overheard.

13. First line of today’s poem: “This is not a poem, but…”

14. Write a poem in the form of either a letter or a speech which uses at least six of the following words: horses, “no, duh,” adolescent, autumn

leaves, necklace, lamb chop, Tikrit, country rock, mother, scamper, zap, bankrupt. Take no more than 13 minutes to write it.

15. Write a poem which includes a list or lists-shopping list, things to do, lists of flowers or rocks, lists of colors, inventory lists,

lists of events, lists of names…

16. Poem subject: A person runs where no running is allowed. Write it in ten minutes.

17. Write a poem in the form of a personal ad.

18. Write a poem made up entirely of questions. Or write a poem made up entirely of directions.

19. Write a poem about the first time you did something.

20. Write a poem about falling out of love.

21. Make up a secret. Then write a poem about it. Or ask someone to give you a made-up or real secret, and write a poem about it.

22. Write a poem about a bird you don’t know the name of.

23. Write a hate poem.

24. Free-write for, say, 15 minutes, but start with the phrase “In the kitchen” and every time you get stuck, repeat the phrase “In the

kitchen.” Alternatively, use any part of a house you have lots of associations with-“In the garage,” “In the basement,” “In the bathroom,” “In the yard.”

25. Write down 5-10 words that sound ugly to you. Use them in a poem.

26. Write a poem in which a motorcycle and a ballerina appear.

27. Write a poem out of the worst part of your character.

28. Write a poem that involves modern technology-voice mail, or instant messaging, or video games, or… 29. Write a seduction poem in which somebody seduces you.

30. Radically revise a poem you wrote earlier this month.

Best Second Book



(One time the singer Seal said something about how you have your whole life to write your first album, so people shouldn’t expect greatness out of a second attempt. These five say “go back in the water, Seal.”)

Goat Funeral, Christopher Bakken
Inflorescence, Sarah Hannah
I’m the Man Who Loves You, Amy King
Drunk by Noon, Jennifer L. Knox
a half-red sea, Evie Shockley



Best Book of New Poetry Published in 2007 ** Best First Book ** Best Second Book ** Best All-New Collection by a Canonical Figure ** Best Selected/Collected ** Best Poem in a New Collection ** Best Author Photo ** Best Book Title ** Best Book Cover ** Best Long Poem ** Best Book-Length Poem ** Best Opener ** Best Closer ** Best First Lines ** Best Closing Lines ** Technical Awards ** Best “Thirteenth Poem” ** Best Response to Coldfront **



Mood: Metaphysical




Than the emptiness I once made of it, your confusion
crosses the sands of time, a cracked hourglass of regular rain,
where you were shaped exactly the way I remember admiring.
But still, we panted at more than we ever could handle, broke
formation and asked to be wed in the Grand Canyon,
with dynamite for a nightlight.
(They’re still writing off the echoes.)
Our professor once professed, in phosphorescent fashion,
“First thought, anticipated stranger …” Such was the way
I embarked on this painting, these colors streaking
my pupils until reality and its raw sugar content
could no longer be deciphered from the storage kept
beneath the series of beds I lay my length in. Somehow we
all assume the rip-off artist, the stranger we hope
will take us each-to-each, breast-to-breast, and hold onto
well beyond the 16 millimeter candle that flickers ahead.
Once the pixels forgive the confetti we’ve been riding,
they explain dire things we now don’t mind forgetting.
An example of full disclosure witnessed since admits
the death of the Spirit left the angels in a strange position.
They are alone with us here, for the very first time.
Wings began to rustle, polling each breeze that passed
for a person’s human sight. We became accountable
in ways as yet unpredicted. And my balloon façade took
your eye away, up higher to the point among
a string of clouds airborne blind, where the puppet pulleys
appeared, revealing we’ve been tugging at the wheel all along.

Amy King


Two more baby poems, possibly about you, found here.


p.s. PUSSIPO Reading on February 28th — 8-10 p.m. in Atlanta, GA @ Eyedrum — I’ll be reading with some kick-ass women. Click here to find out who-who-who.

9 Responses to “Mood: Metaphysical”

  1. Tim Caldwell Says:
    February 14th, 2007 at 2:35 am eEnjoyed this a lot, and loved this immensely:

    “An example of full disclosure witnessed since admits
    the death of the Spirit left the angels in a strange position.”

    That tickled me.

    One question, however. Is that Plato on the left, and is he carrying a book that reads “TIMBO” on the spine? I mean, I enjoy a little popularity, but I’m starting to think he’s obsessed with me.

  2. Jim K. Says:
    February 14th, 2007 at 1:21 pm eA lot of energy and self/crossroads…cool.
    I can see metaphysical, but I also detect very strong existential notes.
    But then, existentialism is one’s personal metaphysics, here+now. Some
    accounting is happening, some ownership. Somewhere high up in the
    pulleys, I see a Dostoevsky-like wrassling with the forces of inner nature.
  3. Tim Caldwell Says:
    February 15th, 2007 at 2:22 am eJim, I think those are the window washers.

    Sorry, couldn’t resist. I’ll go back into my hole now.

  4. Jim K. Says:
    February 15th, 2007 at 2:43 am ehehe…
    The pic is curious..
    “Plato and Aristotle”, by Sanzio.
    Plato points up to ideals, Aristotle down to hard evidence.
    Ari’s book has “ETI..” on the spine. No doubt ethics, not etiquette.
    But Plato’s says “TIMBO” ? now….what is “TIMBO”..??
  5. Jim K. Says:
    February 15th, 2007 at 2:52 am eOops, you asked that Tim. It’s been out at a Philosophy forum
    for an hour, to no reply…the mystery of TIMBO.
    I missed the baby poems at first….intriguing. Prolly not moi.
  6. Jim K. Says:
    February 15th, 2007 at 4:16 am eAha!
    “TIMBO” is actually “TIMEO”.
    and that is the Italian
    for “Timaeus”, Plato’s joint on how the
    Universe was all made of ideal shapes and forms.
  7. Tim Caldwell Says:
    February 16th, 2007 at 1:38 am eThanks for the research Jim. (Damn, and here I was thinking I was one of Plato’s ideals. I see my name everywhere.)

    I read the poem again, and I love it-such a distinct voice.

  8. Jim K. Says:
    February 16th, 2007 at 3:57 am eIf you don’t have Amy’s “Antidotes for an Alibi” yet,
    that’s a nice way to carry the juggernautics with you.
    It’s about half like “Never is Less” and half like a more
    zaggy, less narrative but mimegenic-psychoactive form.
    (that is, the mind jinks to fill in a likely tale that fits the
  9. Sam Rasnake Says:
    February 17th, 2007 at 5:50 pm etag

Tomorrow in Harlem @ 6 P.M.


Harlem Arts Festival – Saturday, September 9th @ 6 p.m.

I’m reading with Roger Bonair-Agard and Steven R. Karl. Meghan Punschke will host!

Billie’s Black is located at 271 West 119th Street between Frederick Douglas and St. Nicholas – come if you can, come if you can’t. Just come, si vous plait~

4 Responses to “Tomorrow in Harlem @ 6 P.M.”

  1. Didi Says:
    September 9th, 2006 at 1:54 am eI wish I could go to this one!
  2. Sara F. Says:
    September 10th, 2006 at 4:19 pm eAhem! Let me know next time! I wish I’d gone…
  3. Sawyer Says:
    September 12th, 2006 at 12:37 am eSorry I’m missing this…
  4. luc Says:
    September 12th, 2006 at 5:49 am ewhat didi said.

To Read Or Not To Read …


Well, I will be reading tomorrow night at the ACA Gallery with some very fine poets. Please stop by for wine, cheese, music, and banter if you’ve got the time. Or if you don’t but can just squeeze a little slice into your very busy New York City schedule, make it mine! I’ll read a special poem just for you. Click here for more info.

In other queries, does anyone know why Ms. Gertrude Stein equated having an orgasm with having a cow as opposed to some other farm animal or noise? I have an idea, though I fear it may be too candid to appear on a publicly-tread-upon blog. If you’re adventurous, feel free to speculate out loud … and thanks for any clues!

An excerpt:

Lifting belly
So high
And aiming.
And making
A cow
Come out
…That is what I adore always more and more.


And another:

I am fondest of all of lifting belly …
Lifting belly is in bed
And the bed has been made comfortable …
Lifting belly
So high
And aiming.
Exactly and making a cow come out.

–from Lifting Belly by Gertrude Stein

7 Responses to “To Read Or Not To Read …”

  1. DCD Says:
    July 25th, 2006 at 5:13 pm eMooooo.
  2. kaplan Says:
    July 25th, 2006 at 5:54 pm eI think Ulla Dydo in _Gertrude Stein: The Language That Rises_ has some kind of explanation, but I can’t find the passage right now–it’s a mammoth book. Just going on memory, the cow designates two intertwined possibilities: orgasm and/or composition. In both cases, Stein had to collaborate with Tolkas. So “making a cow come out” has this dual meaning: first, the poem “Lifting Belly” now that it’s written, and second, sex with Tolkas. The connection between the two is important, according to this view, because Stein posits the link between sexuality and modernism, etc. But why not a goat or a pig? Maybe the word didn’t have the right ring.

    Btw, the other work with many cows is “A Lyrical Opera.”

  3. Dan Coffey Says:
    July 25th, 2006 at 6:44 pm eCalifornia cows are happier. I saw it on the TV.
  4. Amy King Says:
    July 26th, 2006 at 6:40 pm eAhh, thanks for that, Kaplan.

    I’m still thinking the selection in farm animal itself has something to do with, not just the size of a cow though that seems related, but to milking something, which can apply to men and women, as well as to milk, which also applies across the board. But that’s just me being base, I think …

  5. Mia Mia Mia Mia Mia Mia Mia Mia Mia Mia Says:
    August 2nd, 2006 at 10:34 pm eMaybe it is becuase everything that a cow does seems to come from deeper within the gut. “Moo-ing,” walking, eating grass, seems to take a lot of effort on behalf of the cow. They are so slow, that they are always in the midst of pertetual action. By the time a cow finally gets out the “moo” sound, it has made several other gutteral sounds in preparation, and then it explodes. And cows don’t really think. Everything they do is instinct. Pigs and goats try to reason…I think I just lost my city-slicker status with that comment.
  6. Cows in Paris Says:
    October 9th, 2006 at 7:14 am eMaybe when Gertrude aimed exactly, Alice mooed the longest of moos just like a very noisy cow!!!
  7. shayne Says:
    December 4th, 2006 at 11:16 pm ewe arent meant to know what the cow is. we speculate that this is a reference between stein and her partner (as previously posted). thats all we need to know really.sure we can make some BS connections about cows being associated with milk, and milk with children, and children with nurturing, and nurturing with females, and somehow lead us to the female climax. (not to say the cow DOESNT represent this)but we dont know why it does.
    this is a clear example of the subjectivity of language in general.
    if “a rose is a rose is a rose”, a cow is a cow is a cow.