Saturday, May 12, 2007

Poetry Heroes

Over at Jeannine's blog, there's a game going called Poetry Heroes. Your list of contemporary poetry heroes can't include friends, dead poets, poet mentors (something like that, I forget the exact rules), but basically anyone with whom you're in contact. I love this idea, as I woke up this morning thinking about who are my contemporary favorites, and this is a partial list of what came to mind:

1. Alice Oswald
2. Seamus Heaney
3. Mary Oliver
4. Kate Light
5. Pattiann Rogers
6. Sharon Olds
7. Jane Hirshfield
8. Joy Harjo
9. Alice Fulton
10. Billy Collins
11. Naomi Shihab Nye (even if I do know her, I can't leave her off the list -- I read her almost every week)

And who made up the silly rule about not including contemporary poets you know? Wouldn't you try to get to know living poets you admire? Duh ...

So who's on your list? I'm tagging you.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Poem-a-Day Exercise

I discovered many things in the poem-a-day exercise, but the prime discovery was that imagination is like any muscle. As any dancer or athlete knows, the more you stretch and tone, the more articulate that muscle becomes. Writing a poem a day, even a stinky poem, strengthened that muscle to the extent that I don't fear the blank page or the need to write as much as I did at the start of April. I wrote my daily poem, and then some. I did my annual 12 poems for my local school's graduation ceremony -- one for each student -- and I didn't even flinch this year.

Are you afraid of the blank page? Do you shrink from writing assignments and constraints such as the poem-a-day exercise, or any others? I'm curious how many poets and writers feel spooked by the process, as I have. Inspiration (as they call it) is mysterious. But what I discovered was that it's always lurking under the surface. I imagine if one really wanted to, it would be possible to write a poem an hour. Well, not and hold a job. But still.