poems & poets

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poems

poem

It continued to haunt, in its electro-stripes and


late your saying intervened, adding blue


to the triangle like a screen. This


system which couldn’t echo and failed to


orient the true barrier. A long thin line


from their penultimate

poem
Hold fast to dreams 
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.

Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.
poem
The Soul selects her own Society —
Then — shuts the Door —
To her divine Majority —
Present no more —

Unmoved — she notes the Chariots — pausing —
At her low Gate —
Unmoved — an Emperor be kneeling
Upon her Mat —

I've known her — from an ample nation —
Choose One —
Then — close the Valves
2

texts

text
Poetic Terms/Forms
2015

doha: This common Hindi form is a self-contained rhyming couplet. Each twenty-four-syllable line divides into unequal parts of thirteen (6, 4, 3) and eleven syllables (6, 4, 1). A sortha, an inverted doha, transposes the two parts of the line. The simple form of the doha, which conveys an image or idea in two verses, has made it especially useful to describe devotional, sensual, and spiritual states, as in the mystical poetry of Kabir (1440-1518) and Nanak (1469-1539). It often has a proverbial feeling. Goswami Tulsidas employed dohas to adapt the Sanskrit epic Ramayana (fifth to fourth century B. C. E.). His Ramcharitmanas (sixteenth century) are as well known among Hindus in northern India as the Bible is rural in America.

read more doha

Excerpted from A Poet’s Glossary by Edward Hirsch. Copyright © 2014 by Edward Hirsch. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

text
Essays
2014

Daniel Johnson's poem "In the Absence of Sparrows,” written for his friend—the journalist James Foley—was featured in Poem-a-Day on September 3, 2014.

American reporter James Foley, who was killed in Syria on August 19, was—and is—a brother to me. In the wake of his senseless slaughter, I am publishing “In the Absence of Sparrows,” which I wrote during his 656-day captivity. In so doing, I intend to reclaim his image and memory. And I hope to stamp out the numbing vision of Jim in an orange jumpsuit, kneeling in a desert expanse, his captor clad in black, standing above him.

I first met Jim in 1996 when we signed up for Teach for America. Following a stint as a ski lift operator in the Rocky Mountains, I arrived at our teacher training in Houston. Jim shipped in from Milwaukee after spending the summer working at a bottling factory. “Good to meet you, bro,” Jim remarked when we first met. Broad-shouldered and smiling, he was wearing a Milwaukee Bucks jersey and high

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Essays
2015

One never grows weary of The Weary Blues. Langston Hughes’s first book, published by Knopf in 1926, is one of the high points of modernism and of what has come to be called the Harlem Renaissance—that flowering of African American literature and culture in the public’s consciousness. Really an extension of the New Negro movement that began toward the start of the twentieth century, international as much as based in New York, the Harlem Renaissance represented different things to different people: to “race men” like W. E. B. DuBois and James Weldon Johnson, the black cultural ferment found from the teens to the nineteen twenties and beyond provided an opportunity to prove in culture things sometimes denied black folks in society—namely, their humanity.

For a younger generation of black artists like Hughes, their humanity proved self-evident. What’s more, the freedom of expression they sought and Hughes insisted on in his 1926 manifesto “The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain

books

book
Anthology
2014
Singing School:  Learning to Write (and Read) Poetry by Studying with the Masters by Robert Pinksy
book
Children's Book
2017
book
Poetry Book
2016
Anybody by Ari Banias