poems & poets

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Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear

The pigeons ignore us gently as we
scream at one another in the parking
lot of an upscale grocer. The cicadas
are numbed by their own complaints,
so numbed I won’t even try to describe
the noise and tenor of their hum, but hum
they do like a child humming with his


Love, if I weep it will not matter,
  And if you laugh I shall not care;
Foolish am I to think about it,
  But it is good to feel you there.

Love, in my sleep I dreamed of waking, —
  White and awful the moonlight reached
Over the floor, and somewhere, somewhere,



My grandmother Ruth Stone died on a cold day in November on the mountain in Vermont where our family land stretches over acres of tall grass and woods and a lean dirt road that cuts through, utterly unchanged in all the years I’ve been alive. That Arcadian mountain loomed enormous in my childhood, rife with plums and apples growing wild, clusters of fat currants jamming the backyard bushes, and a towering cherry tree that bent right over the old W. B. Stone mailbox and dropped its sour cherries onto the dusty road. I can still feel the gritty pits that seemed so unusual in my mouth and I can still feel Grandma’s hand at the moment of her death many years later, her last big sigh of breath like a great steam engine coming to a stop.

Her house was stuffed with books and papers, rooms of the true artist’s life—ninety-six years, at the time of her death—worth of poems, letters, marked-up books, photographs, piano music, quilts, tin cups, notes in her broad, loopy handwriting,


At the 2015 National Book Festival in Washington D.C., Jane Hirshfield joined us with fellow Academy Chancellors Juan Felipe Herrera and Naomi Shihab Nye for a conversation about poetry and the poet's role in American culture today. In the following clip, Hirshfield talks about this and the themes she finds herself returning to in her poetry.

on Teaching Poetry

Of late, and perhaps of long, I’ve been trying more experiential approaches to the hours we spend together in the classroom. What is our goal there? In the thicket of writing programs, I sometimes wonder. What seems important to me, more and more, is establishing a collective, collaborative space in which we can explore some of the edges of our interior conditions (which include the emotional, the intellectual, and the spiritual) as well as engage in documentary (socio-, eco-) experiments, and to test those edges against what previous poets have done. As we all know, there are already too many workshop poems in the world eating up available reality (as Robert Creeley once said of Robert Frost). I want to see what other realities we can explore. At the University of Denver, I have the enviable challenge of working with PhD students who have either read nearly everything or are trying to read nearly everything, so I know they’re in the process of figuring out the lineage. What I want


Poetry Book
When My Brother Was an Aztec by Natalie Diaz
Children's Book
On the Wing
Children's Book