Blog Archives

How to Build a Poem and the Ars Poetica

By | Poetics, Prose, Susan Kelly-DeWitt

I’ve just been talking on the phone to my good friend Kathleen Lynch about her poem, “How To Build an Owl.” Recently Kathleen told me a great story about how she happened to write this poem, a fascinating tale which I won’t go into here because Kathleen is at this very moment writing a piece …


By | Prose

Once, my husband and his poker buddies teased me by claiming that, earlier that summer, they’d shaved my cat one night while I was out of town. “Sure,” Steve said, going into detail about it — the “here, kitty-kitty,” the cat on his lap, the shaving cream, the towel. I smiled politely; it was cute, …

The Patience of Poems

By | Prose

One of the things I love about poems is their patience.  They lie in wait until they are needed; you never know what line, image, stanza, or whole poems is available until something triggers it.  (Robert Frost said he wanted to lodge a few poems where they’d be hard to get rid of.)  Of course …

The Non-Cooking Chefs’ Daughter Blog

By | Prose

This is the Non-cooking Chefs’ Daughter blog.  You see, both my parents are chefs. They met at Johnson & Wales University, both in the Culinary Arts program, Dad soon to become an Executive Pastry Chef and one of the few Certified Master Bakers in the country and Mom soon to cook food so delicious that it …

Be Drunken


by Charles Baudelaire Translated from the French by Charles Bernstein Be always drunk. That’s all: that’s the only question. So not to feel the horrific heaviness of Time weighing on your shoulders, crushing you to ground, you must be drunken ceaselessly. But on what? On wine, on poetry or on virtue, in your fashion. But drunken be. And if sometime, on palace steps, on the green grass by an abyss, in mournful solitude in your room, if sometime you awake, drunkenness dimmed or done, ask of the wind, of the wave, of the star, of the bird, of the clock, of all that flees, of all that wails, of all that roils, of all that sings, of all that speaks, ask what hour it is and the wind, the wave, the bird, and the clock will answer: “It is the hour to get drunk! So not to be the slavish martyr of Time, be drunken; be drunken without stopping! On wine, on poetry or on virtue, in your fashion.” Enivrez-vous (Paris Spleen, 1864) Il faut être toujours ivre. Tout est là: c’est l’unique question. Pour ne pas sentir l’horrible fardeau du Temps qui brise vos épaules et vous penche vers la terre, il faut vous enivrer sans trêve. Mais de quoi? De vin, de poésie ou de vertu, à votre guise. Mais enivrez-vous. Et si quelquefois, sur les marches d’un palais, sur l’herbe verte d’un fossé, dans la solitude morne de votre chambre, vous vous réveillez, l’ivresse déjà diminuée ou disparue, demandez au vent, à la vague, à l’étoile, à l’oiseau, à l’horloge, à tout ce qui fuit, à tout ce qui gémit, à tout ce qui roule, à tout ce qui chante, à tout ce qui parle, demandez quelle heure il est et le vent, la vague, l’étoile, l’oiseau, l’horloge, vous répondront: “Il est l’heure de s’enivrer! Pour n’être pas les esclaves martyrisés du Temps, enivrez-vous; enivrez-vous sans c

Joyful Noise: An Anthology Of American Spiritual Poetry

By | Book Review, John Samuel Tieman, Prose

A Book Review by John Samuel Tieman

Here’s something new: an anthology that can be appreciated both as a collection of beautiful poems, and as an aesthetically pleasing textbook.

J.D. McClatchy’s Mercury Dressing

By | Book Review, John Samuel Tieman, Prose

A Book Review by John Samuel Tieman

When a poem is at its finest, it is concrete, set in time and place, specific yet transcendent. Like a hymn, it exists both in the voice and the soul, in the text and in the mind. By these means is it savored and remembered. Like that hymn, which transforms notes on a page to prayers on the tongue, so the true poem moves from craft on the page to emotions in the reader. One danger lies, ironically, in being too crafty, that moment when the poem calls attention to its cleverness, rather than its purpose.