05/04/2009 - 3:32pm


To commemorate Mother's Day, here's a lovely poem by David Wojahn of Virginia, remembering his mother after forty years.

Walking to School, 1964

Blurring the window, the snowflakes' numb white lanterns.
She's brewed her coffee, in the bathroom sprays cologne
And sets her lipstick upright on the sink.
The door ajar, I glimpse the yellow slip,

The rose-colored birthmark on her shoulder.
Then she's dressed—the pillbox hat and ersatz fur,

09/02/2009 - 4:46pm

"In a poem, the secrets of the poem give it its tension and gift of emerging sense and form, so that it’s not always the flowering in the poem and the specific images that make it memorable, but the tensions and physicality, the rhythms, the underlying song.

The high spots of a poem could be said to correspond with the bloom in the garden. But you need the compositional entity in order to convey the weight and force of the poem’s motion, of its emerging meaning.

04/27/2009 - 4:53pm
Claudia Emerson

Join us for Teen Poetry Night, Tuesday, April 28, 7:30-9:00, at the Headquarters Library. Winners of the Teen Poetry Contest will be announced and read from their works. Claudia Emerson, winner of the 2006 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry and current Poet Laureate of Virginia, is our contest judge and host for the evening. Professor Emerson will also be reading from her works.

04/27/2009 - 11:57am


Sometimes I wonder at my wife's forbearance. She's heard me tell the same stories dozens of times, and she still politely laughs when she should. Here's a poem by Susan Browne, of California, that treats an oft-told story with great tenderness.

On Our Eleventh Anniversary

You're telling that story again about your childhood,
when you were five years old and rode your blue bicycle

from Copenhagen to Espergaerde, and it was night
and snowing by the time you arrived,

04/22/2009 - 11:26am

American Life in Poetry: Column 213


Bill Holm, one of the most intelligent and engaging writers of our northern plains, died on February 25th. He will be greatly missed. He and I were of the same generation and we shared the same sense of wonder, amusement, and skepticism about the course of technology. I don't yet own an Earbud, but I won't need to, now that we have Bill's poem.


04/15/2009 - 9:38am

by Ted Kooser, U.S. Poet Laureate, 2004-2006

We've published this column about American life for over four years, and we have finally found a poem about one of the great American pastimes, bowling. "The Big Lebowski" caught bowling on film, and this poem by Regan Huff of Georgia captures it in words.

Occurrence on Washburn Avenue

04/15/2009 - 9:42am

 by Ted Kooser, U.S. Poet Laureate, 2004-2006

Some of you are so accustomed to flying that you no longer sit by the windows. But I'd guess that at one time you gazed down, after dark, and looked at the lights below you with innocent wonder. This poem by Anne Marie Macari of New Jersey perfectly captures the gauziness of those lights as well as the loneliness that often accompanies travel.

From the Plane

It is a soft thing, it has been sifted
from the sieve of space and seems
asleep there under the moths of light.

04/08/2009 - 11:06am

by Ted Kooser, U.S. Poet Laureate, 2004-2006

My father was the manager of a store in which chairs were strategically placed for those dutiful souls waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting for shoppers. Such patience is the most exhausting work there is, or so it seems at the time. This poem by Joseph O. Legaspi perfectly captures one of those scenes.

At the Bridal Shop

09/11/2009 - 11:04am

The Owl and the pussy-cat went to sea
In a beautiful pea-green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
Wrapped up in a five-pound note.

The Owl and the Pussycat is a funny sort of poem indeed and only one of Mr. Lear's many nonsense verses. Anyone who would travel along with a Pobble who has no toes or take a sail in a sieve with the blue-handed Jumblies is welcome to be a friend of Mr. Lear.

03/23/2009 - 1:10pm

by Ted Kooser, U.S. Poet Laureate, 2004-2006

I've gotten to the age at which I am starting to strain to hear things, but I am glad to have gotten to that age, all the same. Here's a fine poem by Miller Williams of Arkansas that gets inside a person who is losing her hearing.

Going Deaf

No matter how she tilts her head to hear
she sees the irritation in their eyes.
She knows how they can read a small rejection,
a little judgment, in every What did you say?


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