Tag Archives: poetry

Obscure Holidays: Great Poetry Reading Day

bullwinkleFinally an obscure holiday that actually fits into our poetry theme! Today, April 28th, is “Great Poetry Reading Day.” As you might imagine, this day celebrates all the incredible poetry out there! “Great” is a relative term of course, so you can take it to mean whatever you like (as long as it involves poetry, that is).

For today’s featured poem, I actually had a tough time figuring out what to pick. After all, there are so many to choose from…Shakespeare, Keats, Tennyson, Frost….but since I have a feeling this may be the last “obscure holidays” post for a long while, I think I’ll go with one befitting of its final installment:

Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night
by Dylan Thomas
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Hope you guys enjoyed all the obscure holiday posts! And enjoy some great poetry today! Find some at Poets.org or the Poetry Foundation’s site.


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Featured Poem From Our Newest Issue: “At the Degas Exhibit” by Gregory Fraser

As you all know, our double issue of Five Points Vol. 15, No. 1 & 2 is on sale now, and we’d like to give you a little preview of one of the poems you’ll find inside:

At the Degas Exhibit

by Gregory Fraser


The docent wends us to The Dance Class

and it all flits back: the studio downtown,

few bucks an hour, ragging off the finger


grease of toe-shoed cygnets, tutu-ed swans,

scudding hardwood and ignoring both

of me—spray of acne, high-top Keds.


I would clatter on the local after school

(weekends once the Christmas pageant neared),

my face at every stop floating outside


the window beside my seat—a mask

tried on by stars in movie ads, commuters

cooling heels for later cars. Then Windex,


buff, till six, waving hello, farewell,

from glass to glass, plié to pointe—my hand

emitting squeaks, eliding dainty prints and streaks.


In my knapsack: comics, Catcher, lunch

untouched. And never once did I happen on

the courage even to speak to one of those


sugar plums of Rittenhouse, Society Hill.

Degas’s girls, our guide informs, practice

attitudes, inspected by their master


(one Jules Perrot) propped on his staff.

Note the Parisian mothers daubed

on the wall in back. Yet I see only tights


that bear the stamp McDevitt Dance,

hear gripes about third position, giddy talk

of boys. And search the sides and corners


for my Old World counterpart—some

sponge-and-bucket kid from a ragged edge—

undersized, near-sighted, invisible to art.


Here’s a little more info on Gregory Fraser:

Fraser.3Fraser is the author of two poetry collections, Strange Pietà (Texas Tech, 2003) and Answering the Ruins (Northwestern, 2009). He is also the co-author, with Chad Davidson, of the workshop textbook Writing Poetry: Creative and Critical Approaches (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2008) and the composition textbook Analyze Anything: A Guide to Critical Reading and Writing (Continuum, 2012). His poetry has appeared in journals including the Paris Review, the Southern Review, the Gettysburg Review, and Ploughshares. The recipient of a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, Fraser serves as associate professor of English and creative writing at the University of West Georgia.

Purchase copies of Five Points here!

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Poem in Your Pocket Day!

pocket_logo2It’s time again for Poets.org’s national Poem in Your Pocket Day! According to their site, the purpose of this day is to “select a poem you love during National Poetry Month then carry it with you to share with co-workers, family, and friends.” What better way to express your love of poetry? For mine, I’m picking one of my all-time favorite poems by Emily Bronte:

To Imagination

When weary with the long day’s care,
And earthly change from pain to pain,
And lost, and ready to despair,
Thy kind voice calls me back again:
Oh, my true friend! I am not lone,
While then canst speak with such a tone!

So hopeless is the world without;
The world within I doubly prize;
Thy world, where guile, and hate, and doubt,
And cold suspicion never rise;
Where thou, and I, and Liberty,
Have undisputed sovereignty.

What matters it, that all around
Danger, and guilt, and darkness lie,
If but within our bosom’s bound
We hold a bright, untroubled sky,
Warm with ten thousand mingled rays
Of suns that know no winter days?

Reason, indeed, may oft complain
For Nature’s sad reality,
And tell the suffering heart how vain
Its cherished dreams must always be;
And Truth may rudely trample down
The flowers of Fancy, newly-blown:

But thou art ever there, to bring
The hovering vision back, and breathe
New glories o’er the blighted spring,
And call a lovelier Life from Death.
And whisper, with a voice divine,
Of real worlds, as bright as thine.

I trust not to thy phantom bliss,
Yet, still, in evening’s quiet hour,
With never-failing thankfulness,
I welcome thee, Benignant Power;
Sure solacer of human cares,
And sweeter hope, when hope despairs!

Find plenty of poems and info on the holiday at Poets.org!


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Five Points Volume 15 1&2 Available Now!

fbinviteFive Points is proud to announce the release of our newest issue, Volume 15 1&2! This is a double issue packed with a wide array of poetry, fiction, essays, interviews, art, and more! Here are some of the contributors you can expect to see in the new issue:

  • Kim Addonizio
  • Ward Briggs
  • Billy Collins
  • Christopher Dickey
  • Lauren Groff
  • Jennifer Haigh
  • Barbara Hamby
  • Edward Hirsch
  • Jane Hirshfield
  • Alice Hoffman
  • Edward Hower
  • David Kirby
  • Laurence Lieberman
  • Deborah Luster
  • James May
  • Sharon Olds
  • Chelsea Rathburn
  • Anya Silver
  • Elizabeth Spencer
  • Elizabeth Spires
  • Ernest Saurez
  • Melane Rae Thon
  • Daren Wang
  • Lauren Watel
  • ……and many more!

Visit our website to find out more, or purchase copies of Five Points here!

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Obscure Holidays: International Waffle Day!

wafflesYep, how could I live with myself if I failed to acknowledge Waffle Day in one of my obscure holiday posts? After all, I think we can all agree that few things in life are so worthy of praise as waffles. In fact, waffles are so deserving that they actually have two holidays all to themselves–International Waffle Day and National Waffle Day, August 24th. Today’s version of the holiday originated in Sweden and is called “Våffeldagen.” According to the website I found it on, this day “was also considered the start of spring in Sweden and Europe.  It became a custom for Swedish families to celebrate the two events by making waffles on this day.” So there you have it–waffles bring families closer together.

In case you’re wondering about the other waffle day in August, it was founded in order to celebrate the patenting of the waffle iron by Cornelius Swarthout of Troy, New York on August 24, 1869. Can you believe waffle irons have been around for that long? Apparently, waffles themselves have been around for even longer, dating back to the 1300s in Greece (although they were topped with cheese and herbs then, because sadly, pancake syrup wasn’t around). Also, did I say there were only two waffle holidays? Sorry, I meant three, because there’s also a separate day simply called “Waffle Iron Day” on June 29th. In any case, it’s clear waffles get a lot of love.

But does that love equate to poetry? Typing “waffle” into the Poetry Foundation’s search bar didn’t net me much, so I decided to take a different approach this week. Rather than trying to find classic or well-written poems on the subject, I just went for some fun ones. How about beginning with a poem written by the Waffle House itself (posted on its Facebook page):

“Waffle House” by Waffle House

Waffle House Waffle House
We are home grown

Where the Customer is king
And every booth is a throne

Waffle House Waffle House
Home away from home

Scattered Smothered Covered Diced
The All-Star zone

Waffle House Waffle House
New home of the Toddle House

Come one come all
Bring the whole family out

Waffle House Waffle House
We’re here 24/7

Bert’s Chili, Alice’s Tea
Welcome to heaven

It’s a good thing heaven’s open 24/7 (and during most major natural disasters). But if the waffle house poem doesn’t satisfy your craving for waffle tributes, how about this hilarious entry (it’s long, but trust me, it won’t take long to read):

I Want My Waffles

by QueenDragonLady

I have an Urge for Waffles

Wake up in the morning

Something smells good

It’s just pancakes and eggs

And I’m not in the mood

I want something FUNKY

And weird looking too



Can’t get enough


They taste so yummy


They fill my tummy


Chocolate chips melting

Smells inviting

Its for breakfast



And I say…

I have an urge for…


Oh so funny


They make me happy


My one desire


I’ll roast over an open fire


Don’t give me a pancake

I’ll just break the plate!

Don’t give me an egg

I’ll just beg!

Don’t give me cereal

Yea I’m for real!














ur still reading this? Go make my waffles!

No! Make them now!

Yes now! Did I stutter?


Well, I think that pretty much sums up most people’s opinions on waffles. So what are you waiting for! Go get some! And perhaps use them as inspiration for your own creative waffle poetry.

If I ever go to Brussels, I'm visiting this place.

If I ever visit Brussels, I’m going to this place.

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Obscure Holidays: Near Miss Day, March 23

AsteroidIn this installment of Obscure Holidays, I present to you “Near Miss Day,” today on March 23rd. Apparently, this day was established to celebrate March 23rd, 1989, when an asteroid the size of a mountain just barely slipped past earth, passing within 500,000 miles of the planet. This holiday seems especially relevant, as some of you might remember the asteroid in mid-February that passed within 17,200 miles of earth. So in actuality, it seems this recent asteroid probably deserves its own holiday more than the old one, but ah well–for now, we’ll go with March 23rd.

It wasn’t an easy task to find a fitting poem for this particular day, but I think I found one that’s appropriate enough. It’s called “The Age of Dinosaurs” by James Scruton, and it’s a fairly recent poem (2001) I discovered on the Poetry Foundation’s website. It might not be about asteroids per se, but it’s close enough, and I quite like the poem anyway:

The Age of Dinosaurs
by James Scruton
There are, of course, theories
about the wide-eyed, drop-jawed
fascination children have for them,
about how, before he’s learned
his own phone number or address,
a five-year-old can carry
like a few small stones
the Latin tonnage of those names,
the prefixes and preferences
for leaf or meat.
My son recites the syllables
I stumble over now,
sets up figures as I did
years ago in his prehistory.
Here is the green ski slope
of a brontosaur’s back,
there a triceratops in full
gladiator gear. From the arm
of a chair a pterodactyl
surveys the dark primeval carpet.
Each has disappeared from time
to time, excavated finally
from beneath a cabinet
or the sofa cushions, only
to be buried again among its kind
in the deep toy chest,
the closed lid snug as earth.
The next time they’re brought out
to roam the living room
another bone’s been found
somewhere, a tooth or fragment
of an eggshell dusted off,
brushing away some long-held notion
about their life-span
or intelligence, warm blood
or cold. On the floor
they face off as if debating
the latest find, what part
of which one of them
has been discovered this time.
Or else they stand abreast
in one long row, side
by scaly side, waiting to fall
like dominoes, my son’s
tossed tennis ball a neon yellow
asteroid, his shadow a dark cloud
when he stands, his fervor for them
cooling so slowly he can’t feel it—
the speed of glaciers, maybe,
how one age slides into the next.

With all this talk of asteroids, I’d suggest getting in some poetry reading while you still can. After all, you never know when a giant flaming rock might cut your reading days short. Although recently, I’ve heard talk of scientists trying to find new ways to deflect asteroids, like with laser beams and whatnot…I wonder if any of that stuff would actually work out? Anyway, if you wanna hear a funny song about dinosaurs/asteroids, check this one out on youtube.

I had to put this here.

I had to put this here.

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Obscure Holidays: International Earth Day

earth-dayNot to be confused with the more well-known U.S. Earth Day (April 22), this is international Earth day (which actually makes more sense…after all, isn’t earth day about celebrating the entire earth?). Anyway, this particular Earth Day is also known as “Sun-Earth Day” and was started in 1970 (incidentally, the exact same year that U.S. Earth day started). It is always celebrated during the spring equinox, which happens to be today! You don’t have to look hard to find nature-related poems, and here’s one that many of you might know:

I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud
by William Wordsworth
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
I thought this one especially fit for celebrating nature–as it points out, you don’t actually have to be out in nature to appreciate its beauty. Sure, it helps to be out in the fields, but if you’re too lazy to leave your couch, at least you still have your imagination to conjure it up for you. And what better way to spark your imagination than with poetry? Find more Wordsworth poems here at the Poetry Foundation (you can bet that nearly all of them have something to do with nature). But you can also find nature poems here at Poets.org. And of course, Robert Frost is another famous nature poet (I had to hold myself back from posting another of his poems this time, but I thought it’d be nice to give some other poets a turn in the spotlight). Still, you can read many of his poems here as well.
So Happy Sun-Earth day! And no matter how impressive your powers of imagination, I’d still suggest stepping outside and appreciating nature in its true form, especially if you happen to have a field of daffodils located conveniently nearby.

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Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Makes you want to visit Ireland, doesn't it?

Makes you want to visit Ireland, doesn’t it?

Five Points would like to wish everyone a happy St. Patrick’s day! When it comes to poetry, there are plenty of incredible Irish poets, some of which you can find here at the Poetry Foundation’s website. One of the more famous ones is William Butler Yeats, who’s penned such well-known poems as “The Second Coming” and this one, “Down By the Salley Gardens“:

Down By the Salley Gardens
By William Butler Yeats
Down by the salley gardens
   my love and I did meet;
She passed the salley gardens
   with little snow-white feet.
She bid me take love easy,
   as the leaves grow on the tree;
But I, being young and foolish,
   with her would not agree.
In a field by the river
   my love and I did stand,
And on my leaning shoulder
   she laid her snow-white hand.
She bid me take life easy,
   as the grass grows on the weirs;
But I was young and foolish,
   and now am full of tears.
Although a bit melancholy, it’s a beautiful poem, and a lovely song as well. Just look it up on youtube if you don’t believe me–here are some of my favorite song versions: this one by Maura O’Connell with Karen Matheson; this one by Orla Fallon (of Celtic Woman); this fully instrumental version; and this Japanese version. (Fun fact: there’s actually a Japanese anime called Fractale that uses this song as its ending credits song)
There are plenty more Irish poems for you to enjoy on St. Patrick’s Day, so why not check them out?


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Obscure Holidays: Public Sleeping Day

sealion-sleeping-on-benchJust to spice things up, I’m (attempting) to start a new tradition on this blog of honoring obscure holidays through poetry. The first one I’ll pay tribute to is February 28th’s “Public Sleeping Day.” Chances are that many of you already celebrate this holiday on a daily basis (especially during classes, if you’re a student), but tomorrow, at least you’ll have an excuse for your actions. And just to get you in the mood, here’s Keats’s “To Sleep”:

*****To Sleep by John Keats*****
O soft embalmer of the still midnight,
      Shutting, with careful fingers and benign,
Our gloom-pleas’d eyes, embower’d from the light,
      Enshaded in forgetfulness divine:
O soothest Sleep! if so it please thee, close
      In midst of this thine hymn my willing eyes,
Or wait the “Amen,” ere thy poppy throws
      Around my bed its lulling charities.
Then save me, or the passed day will shine
Upon my pillow, breeding many woes,—
      Save me from curious Conscience, that still lords
Its strength for darkness, burrowing like a mole;
      Turn the key deftly in the oiled wards,
And seal the hushed Casket of my Soul.
If you’d like to enhance your knowledge of more obscure holidays, you can find plenty at this website. Happy Public Sleeping Day!

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Guest Post: Of Hendrix and Mnemotechnics by Mike Saye

Saye1I recently had to memorize “Ode on a Grecian Urn”, a fifty line poem, for one of my classes. The idea was to get into the heart of the words of the poem, feel their rhythm, know the poem in an intimate way that one doesn’t get by silent reading or a few readings aloud. I used YouTube and listened to a guy read the poem over and over and memorized it by way of rote drilling. I probably listened to the poem read twenty-five times. There is something very personal about memorizing poems; I’ve memorized several over the years, not nearly as many as I’d like, and they become a part of my psychic landscape after a while. I quote “The Song of Wandering Aengus” to myself when I’m doing all kinds of non-poetic stuff, and often, when in a piqued mood, I look passersby in the eye and quote “Jabberwocky” to disabuse them of their superiority. I lord my poem horde over the peons like a hermit lords the power of solitude o’er the hoi polloi.

Along the way to absolute dominance, I became curious about the various ways in which one might memorize poetry, and, lo and behold, there are lots of ways in which folk memorize all kinds of stuff. On the website, Mnemotechnics.org, there is a wealth of information for people interested in this notion of owning poetry by heart (I’m quoting Harold Bloom’s expression). Here, even the notion of memorizing whole books is taken seriously, which I find so pleasing to my own aesthetic, though I never plan to do it myself mind you, that I immediately relaxed upon reading the website and Lethe-wards have I sunk. Yet, I must point out that there should be a purpose in memorizing these poems, and voila! I have found fine purpose.  Should you follow this link, be prepared to read a good little blog post by Christopher Higgs over at HTMLGIANT about how to approach criticism. The reason the post is so good is not because I think criticism should consist solely in “foregrounding observation over interpretation, and participation over judgment, by asking what a text does rather than what it means,” but because the reader, the normal person reading a work of literature or watching a film or looking at a painting, can use Higgs’ notion as a considered excuse to bleed off the anxiety of getting intellectualized by reading Literature and looking at Art, and can, instead, enjoy the work and find an emotional connection there. If the emotional connection, the visceral reaction, isn’t, first-and-foremost, what an artist hopes to evoke from his audience, then I want no part of the observation. It is, after all, this visceral reaction that prompts the artist to write in the first place, or it was my reason anyway.

Saye2Higgs hints at this fact in his essay when he paraphrases Jean-Luc Godard’s statement that “the only valid way to criticize a movie [is] to make one of your own.” Making the poem your own by memorization is a response, an active participation in the work. Jimi Hendrix internalized blues and R&B by listening to songs and playing them in cover bands; he made them his own and turned possession into expression. The vehicle of expression for his own passions and obsessions was a wonderful mix of the old and familiar with the genius of a truly uninhibited imagination. So yeah, what I’m saying is, you can be Jimi Hendrix if you memorize poems. Now Testify children.


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