Tag Archives: poetry

Poetry Reading by Andrew Hudgins

AndrewHudginsTomorrow, Thursday February 28th at 4:30, Georgia State University will welcome Andrew Hudgins for a poetry reading! The reading will take place in the Troy Moore Library (which is on the 9th floor of the General Classroom Building). Andrew Hudgins is an award-winning poet and the author of, most recently, AmericanRendering: New and Selected Poems; Shut Up, You’re Fine: Poems for Very, Very Bad Children; Ecstatic in the Poison; and Babylon in a Jar. He has received the Witter Bynner Award of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, been inducted into the Fellowship of Southern Writers, and been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award.


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Happy Valentine’s Day from Five Points!

valentines bear 1Five Points would like to wish everyone a happy Valentine’s day! I can’t think of a better holiday for poetry, so why not celebrate by browsing through a few classics? You can find some great ones here at Poets.org, such as Shakespeare’s Sonnet 130:

Sonnet 130 by William Shakespeare

My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips' red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damasked, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground.
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.

Great as that poem is, I’m not sure I’d recommend reciting it to your significant other (they might get the wrong impression if they don’t stay for the whole thing…). But you certainly couldn’t go wrong with this one if you’re looking to declare your undying love:

How do I Love Thee? by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of every day’s
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints, I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

Of course, for those of you who find yourself alone this year, these poems might not bring you much solace. But how about this one to cheer you up:
Neutral Tones by Thomas Hardy
We stood by a pond that winter day,
And the sun was white, as though chidden of God,
And a few leaves lay on the starving sod,
–They had fallen from an ash, and were gray.
Your eyes on me were as eyes that rove
Over tedious riddles solved years ago;
And some words played between us to and fro–
On which lost the more by our love.
The smile on your mouth was the deadest thing
Alive enough to have strength to die;
And a grin of bitterness swept thereby
Like an ominous bird a-wing….
Since then, keen lessons that love deceives,
And wrings with wrong, have shaped to me
Your face, and the God-curst sun, and a tree,
And a pond edged with grayish leaves.

It might not seem very cheering, but at least you’re not stuck with someone whose smile is “the deadest thing/alive enough to have strength to die” (9-10). And if you have nothing else to celebrate, then at least celebrate the fact that you don’t have to buy gifts for anyone!

Either way, you can find more love poems (both happy and not-so-happy) here at the Poetry Foundation’s site. Settle down with a box of chocolates and take a look!


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January 29th: the 50th Anniversary of Robert Frost’s Death

Frost1Yesterday, January 29, marked the 50th anniversary of poet Robert Frost’s death. I’m fairly certain that most of you have read his more famous poems, but they’re always worth another look-over, right?

The Road Not Taken
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;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

If you’d like to read more of Frost’s poems–or more about Frost’s life in general–here are some great links to enjoy:

This site includes biographical information and a large number of poems to peruse.

The Poetry Foundation also features biographical info and a selection of poems, as does Poets.org.

If you’re looking to purchase physical copies of Frost’s poetry, I would suggest this one if you’re looking for only a selection of Frost’s most famous works, this one if you’re looking for something a little more comprehensive, and this one if you’re looking for the complete works all in one whopping hardcover volume.

Frost2I have to admit that Frost is my favorite poet, probably because of his ability to craft poems that are at once beautiful, meaningful, and yet still accessible to a great variety of readers. His most famous poems are excellent, but I’m currently reading through a more comprehensive volume of his works, and I’m amazed at how many lesser-known poems I’m also enjoying. So if you have the time, I’d definitely suggest checking more of his poems out!

For now, I’ll end with a selection of some randomly enlightening quotes by Frost (you can read all of these and more here):

“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.”

“Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words.”

“Freedom lies in being bold.”

“A diplomat is a man who always remembers a woman’s birthday but never remembers her age.”

“The brain is a wonderful organ; it starts working the moment you get up in the morning and does not stop until you get into the office.”

“And were an epitaph to be my story I’d have a short one ready for my own. I would have written of me on my stone: I had a lover’s quarrel with the world.”

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Guest Post: A.E. Stallings, a Review by Christine Swint

A.E. Stallings, poet, translator, and classics scholar, has released her third collection of poetry, Olives (Triquarterly Books, Northwestern University Press, 2012). Her previous collections include Archaic Smile of Apollo (1999), Hapax (2006) and The Nature of Things (2007), a translation of the works of Lucretius. She has won major poetry prizes for all of her books.

stallingsOlives follows on the heels of Stallingsʼs 2011 awards: a Guggenheim Fellowship and MacArthur Foundation Fellowship.

In a video clip on the MacArthur Foundation website, Stallings gives the viewer a glimpse into her life as a poet and translator. She explains how she came to be involved with poetry, and she goes on to describe some of the themes she explores in her poems: love, time, mortality, and childhood.

A large part of Stallingsʼs gifts as a poet and writer stem from her ability to marry sound and form with the stuff of everyday life and myth. She writes primarily in traditional, received forms such as blank verse, sonnets and villanelles, among others.

For example, in “Triolet on a Line Apocryphally Attributed to Martin Luther” (originally published in Poetry), she playfully asks, “Why should the Devil get all the good tunes,/the booze and the neon, the Saturday nights?”

OlivesThrough the three repetitions of the first line that the triolet requires, Stallings creates a wistful question that ends up equating the Devilʼs songs with an average personʼs idle singing. Any of us might “hum them to while away sad afternoons” (23). The reader is not only similar to the Devil–we also feel empathy for him.

The current issue of Five Points (14.3) features an interview with A.E. Stallings by poet, literary scholar, and creative writing professor Beth Gylys.

At the end of the interview, referring to Olives, Gylys asks, “Are there any poem titles or poem subjects you might mention as a way of priming us for the collection itself?” (40).

Stallings gives an enlightening reply: “There are two title poems to the collection. In the one on the back of the book, I play around with the sounds and letters of Olives, which ends up containing so much.”

She goes on to say that “Olives” both as a poem and as a title for the book, is “anagrammatic” and refers to both “O Lives” and the fruit, olives (41).

In the interview, she explains that the book is about her life in Greece, where she lives with her husband, journalist John Psaropoulos and their children. The poems, ripe with imagery of the Greek countryside, explore marriage, childhood, and the land where these familial relationships unfold.

Although there are fewer poems in Olives dealing directly with myth than in Stallingsʼs previous collections, she does offer the reader “Three Poems for Psyche” (41–45), persona poems in three different voices, each persona giving Psyche advice: “The Eldest Sister to Psyche,” “The Boatman to Psyche on the River Styx,” and “Persephone to Psyche.”

As with all of Stallingsʼs poems based on myth, she is able to make the characters come alive. We feel connected to Psyche through these other voices–she gains relevance as an emblem of our own lives. We put ourselves in Persephoneʼs place when she dryly remarks to Psyche about Hades:

This place is dead–a real dive,
Weʼre past all twists, rewards, and perils.
But what the hell. We all arrive.
Here, have some pomegranate arils.

Another of Stallingsʼs gifts is her wit. Of course we feel the poignancy of Persephoneʼs plight, but the humor adds an ironic tone that makes the myth and the poem sound contemporary and fresh.

A.E. Stallingsʼs poems first in appeared in Five Points Spring/Summer 1999, when she won the James Dickey Award for “Clean Monday” and “Airing.” As Stallings states in a note about the poem, “Clean Monday marks the beginning of Greek Orthodox Lent. Children celebrate this holiday by flying kites” (79).

Paired with this poem is “Airing,” four quatrains in which the wind causes the drying laundry to take the shape of shrugs, hugs, an argument, and then at the end, as the door slams shut, peace, the surrender of a white flag–from the start of her career, Stallings has created the magic of sound and metaphor.

For more reviews of Olives, read Abigail Deutschʼs remarks on The Poetry Foundation website or Jeremy Telmanʼs review in Valparaiso Poetry Review.

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Our New Online Submission Database is Up and Running!

We’re pleased to announce that we are now accepting submissions online via Tell It Slant! Here, you will find all of our submission guidelines and reading periods, and you can submit your work to our journal at the click of a button! You can also enter our James Dickey Prize for Poetry contest straight from this site!

So what are you waiting for? Click here to start submitting!

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Guest Post: Greasing the Wheels by Mike Saye

Fall is one of the most productive times of year for my writing. I’m not sure why; perhaps the reason is that summer fills up the imaginative well with all its goings-on. Or maybe summer time is so draining that fall is about playing catch-up. Either way, in anticipation of my own word harvest, here are some websites I find particularly useful for revving up the writing engine.

Disclaimer: I’m a poet so these sites tend to be poetry heavy.

Figure 1 from Bookworm’s Website


Bookworm is a weekly radio show where writers from all over the literary world – fiction, non-fiction, poetry – come to talk about their work. This Mary Ruefle interview is particularly good, but I urge you to scour this site!

A couple of years ago, Dean Young’s nephew posted this wonderful letter. When I need to remind myself why I write, I go here: a letter from Dean Young.

The Library Of Congress’s selection of poetry podcasts at The Poet and The Poem: all kinds of great interviews with contemporary giants who read their work and talk about poetics.

I like to get as close to the source as possible. Over at Ron Silliman’s blog, I found a link to San Francisco State University’s Poetry Center Digital Archive.  This site is a treasure trove. Go listen to a broad selection of great poets read from their work and talk about poetics. These archives stretch back to the 1950s, so there’s a good chance that one of your heroes is there.

Or, you can listen and watch readings from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation’s YouTube page, which highlights the Dodge Foundation Poetry Festival. No new material on this site since 2010, but there are plenty of great poetry readings to learn from, experience, and enjoy.

This is a short list, but I think these sites will keep you ear-deep in literary-ness. If there are any websites you think should be added to it, please leave a comment and share with us!

Mike Saye is a Georgia native. This is his first year studying poetry at Georgia State University’s MFA program, and he is delighted to be there.

Mike invites questions, comments, and ideas of all sorts, so please drop a line if you feel so inclined. Let’s get a conversation going!

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Five Points Volume 14.3 On Shelves Now!

Five Points Volume 14.3 is out on shelves now! Learn more about the new issue and order a copy here!

This issue features works from the following authors, poets, and artists:

  • Edward Hirsch
  • Mark Jarman
  • A.E. Stallings
  • David Kirby
  • Anne Marie Macari
  • R.T. Smith
  • Linda Pastan
  • David Wagoner
  • James Wooden
  • Ron Houchin
  • Tania James
  • Nancy Zafris
  • George Singleton
  • Hugh Sheehy
  • Debra Spark
  • James Rioux
  • Beth Gylys (Interview with A.E. Stallings)
  • Cynthia Farnell
  • Ernest G. Welch

For a full table of contents, click here!

Be sure to visit the Five Points website for a sample poem and more information on the issue!

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Featured Poem: Tolstoy and the Spider by Jane Hirshfield

Jane Hirshfield

Tolstoy and the Spider

Moscow is burning.

Pierre sets out to kill Napoleon

and instead rescues a child.

Thus Tolstoy came today

to lift this spider in his large hand

and carry her free.

Now a cricket approaches the spider

set down inside her new story,

one hind leg missing.

The insects touch, a decision is made,

each moves away from the other

as if two exhausted and unprovisioned armies,

as if two planets passing out of conjunction,

or two royal courts in procession,

neither noticing the other go by.

Or like my own two legs:

their narrow lifetime of coming together and parting.

A story travels in one direction only,

no matter how often

it tries to turn north, south, east, west, back.

From Five Points Vol. 13.3

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Featured Poem: On Being Asked Directions to Drumcree by Howard Wright

Howard Wright

On Being Asked Directions to Drumcree

by two hacks from a London broadsheet,

I lean into their foul Isuzu 4×4, all bull-bars

and pocket phones, burger boxes and burnt stubs,

the black golf-ball compass floating helpless

on the dingy windscreen, and tell them

like everywhere else it’s a long way from here.

I elaborated with hand signals, the driver

thumbnailing a map and making a note,

his passenger tapping the compass as if it were

the oracle, the life-saver, as if it made

a button of difference here of all places,

after my parting-shot pointed them

in the opposite direction to arrive

sometime tomorrow or the day after that.

From Five Points Vol. 13.2

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Five Points Guest Post: Andrea Carter Brown Shares Her Thoughts

Andrea Carter Brown, our most recent James Dickey Prize for Poetry winner, has agreed to share with us her thoughts and inspirations behind her poems “Cloud Studies: Hudson River School – Homage to Constable,” “Ars Poetica – After 9/11,” and “In the Desert.” If you’re interested in listening to Andrea perform a poetry reading of these works, check out our Tumblr. You can listen to “Ars Poetica” here, “Cloud Studies” here, and “In the Desert” here!

On Poetry & Growing Oranges, Tangerines, Lemons, and Limes

This April 26th, I will be carrying “Meditation at Lagunitas” by Robert Hass in my pocket as part of National Poetry Month festivities. (Check out the “Poem in Your Pocket” program right here!) I don’t remember when I first came across this poem. Or how. But I do know it was in the early nineties, when I was just beginning to write poetry. By the time I first went to an artist’s colony, Ragdale, I was so obsessed with this poem, I called a friend and had her Express Mail my copy of Praise to me in Lake Forest, Illinois. The local library didn’t have a copy, and the collection was out of print so I couldn’t buy it. I just had to have it with me. Once it arrived, I could write. And did, up a storm, my first experience of that white heat of creativity that every artist lives for, although I would not have called myself that at the time. Praise became the collection I slipped into a suitcase every trip, my good luck talisman, the ever-present reminder of the beauty and power of poetry to move.

Little did I guess then that life would move me from the New York City area, where I was born, grew up, became a writer, and lived most of my life, to Southern California a few years after 9/11, that “Golden State” as far away from my East Coast history as it is possible to get in the continental US. In retrospect, “Meditation at Lagunitas” paved the way.

Through the eyes of this poet I had already fallen in love with the land: by turns tropical, then arid, with a living, active geology, its many forms jostled together in close proximity. Then there are the plants, and the wildlife, especially the birds (when I saw stilts for the first time, I knew right away where Empire Stalkers came from), but also the bobcats, ringtails, lizards and even the racers, the rattlers. And this from someone with a genuine snake phobia since childhood. Besides the subtle palette of the desert, I loved that you could lose yourself in it, that without sufficient care, you could die there. It was existentialism pure and simple. After surviving 9/11, and witnessing the things I did that day and in the months after, life among natural extremes came as a relief. It was easier to worry about earthquakes, cleaner.

Conversely, by moving away from NYC, it became possible for me to write about 9/11. While some writers were able to quickly articulate their response to that day, I spent months unable to write at all. There was our contaminated home a block from the WTC to deal with. There were health problems resulting from exposure to dust and other toxins which took years to get under control. We eventually moved back into our remediated apartment only to discover that memories of that day were ever-present, inescapable. It was over six months before I wrote anything at all about it. In response to a call for entries for Poetry After 9/11: An Anthology of New York Poets (Melville House Publishing), I very quickly wrote two elegies, “The Old Neighborhood” and “Ash Wednesday.” It would be over a year before I wrote another word about it.

From a short sequence of very badly rhymed quatrains (an assignment for Marilyn Hacker’s prosody class at CCNY in April, 2003, where I had gone to finish my M.A.), the project grew. The quatrains became a sonnet, grew to a sonnet crown, a double, a sequence of narrative heroic double sonnet crowns, to minimalist sonnet portraits of the 10 people who died 9/11 from the small NJ commuter town where I grew up, to step-out historical poems about NYC, to lyrical interludes about life overlooking the harbor in Lower Manhattan before 9/11, to an extended section of aftermath poems because 9/11 didn’t end that day but continued to cast ripples and ricochet through the months, years, the decade to come. The aftermath continues; the body of work continues to grow.

This manuscript of poems, September 12, includes the three poems in Five Points which won the James Dickey Prize, “Cloud Studies: Hudson River School – Homage to Constable,” “Ars Poetica – After 9/11,” and “In the Desert.” Other poems from it can be found online or in print at Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Mississippi Review, The Delaware Poetry Review, and River Styx, among many other journals, and in several anthologies. For the 10th anniversary of 9/11 this past September, Split This Rock Poetry Festival published “After the Disaster: Fragments” for their “Poem of the Week.” This project has lead me to be on panels at AWP and Split This Rock about the poetry of bearing witness, the challenges of writing history as poetry, and the legacy of 9/11 in poetry ten years later.

It’s safe to say that September 12 would not have been written if we hadn’t left NYC and moved to Los Angeles in 2004. In the peace and quiet of our new home, I grew to feel relatively safe again. From the perspective of two thousand miles away, I was able to revisit those painful memories and make something of them, to preserve one survivor’s testimony in its particularity, to contribute to the historical record. I won’t say it’s been easy. It’s been a long, slow, ongoing process of discovery.

And recovery.

Of the many changes our move from NYC to Southern California has brought, the most surprising to me is that I have become a backyard citrus farmer. Out here, April is the month the last of last year’s crop of Bearss limes and Valencia oranges wait to be harvested, so overripe they fall on their own to the ground. All the citrus trees are simultaneously covered with flowers: Navel orange, Satsuma tangerine, sweet Meyer lemon, tart Eureka, as well as the lime and Valencia. Each variety has its own subtly different sweetness; every flower is so sticky the bees get caught if they chow down too deeply. We don’t cull the blossoms to get bigger fruits; we let nature take its course. Early morning, late afternoon, in the middle of the night under the moon that shares the sky this month with Jupiter, Venus, Mars, and Saturn, I go from tree to tree inhaling the scents. Aromatherapy au natural. The best kind.

This National Poetry Month, in the oasis of our little backyard, I will revisit some of my favorite poems  and the sequences that have inspired me – “Clearances” by Seamus Heaney, “When I have fears” by Keats, “A Long Story” by Andrew Motion, Jane Kenyon’s “Having it Out with Melancholy” and, of course, “Let Evening Come,” all of Elizabeth Bishop, but especially “At the Fish Houses” and “Filling Station,” Marilyn Nelson’s “A Wreath for Emmett Till,” and “Calle Visión” by Adrienne Rich, whose recent death has left us bereft. And this spring, amid the citrus trees, the bees, the sulphurs, and the Allen’s hummingbirds that drink from them, I will especially praise Robert Hass, the Poet Laureate from my new home state, whose poems about this state prepared me to love this new life, which in turn enabled me to do justice to the life left behind.

If you’re interested in checking out some of Andrea’s poems from The Disheveled Bed, visit this site for the program “Poetry Heals,” a National Poetry Month collaboration between the New Jersey Council for the Humanities and CavanKerry Press.

Andrea Carter Brown’s poems can be found in Five Points Vol. 14.2. Click here for more info!


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