Category: Michael Simms

Where Does Poetry Come From?

By | Michael Simms, Poetics, Prose

Let’s talk about where poetry comes from… or at least where one poem came from. I offer one of my own, not because it is an example of a great poem (it isn’t), but because I know the situation out of which it arose. For a period of time a few summers ago, I kept a notebook in …

Waiting for Necessity to Speak III

By | Michael Simms, Poetics, Prose

Nowadays, many poets learn their craft in creative writing classes. We call them workshops in order, I suppose, to suggest a correlation with wood-carving or perhaps clock- making. And the best teachers do a great service to the students by emphasizing how a poem works, as well as how it could work better. As valuable …

Waiting for Necessity to Speak II

By | Michael Simms, Poetics, Prose

Tradition tells us that muses are angelic creatures who descend from clouds, or drift like smoke through an open window — while my muse is a guy who walks into a bar. But we take what we can get, right? The sources of poetry are too uncertain for me to refuse any gift, no matter how unlikely …

Waiting for Necessity to Speak

By | Michael Simms, Poetics, Prose

 Notes toward an understanding of poetic imagination When I was a student in Iowa City, Stanley Bomgarten and I used to drink at a place called George’s a few blocks from campus. One morning we were celebrating Stanley getting fired from his job as assistant pastor at the local Baptist Church when a young man …

What is Poetry For?

By | Michael Simms, Poetics, Prose

A few days ago, an old priest who was a colleague of my wife’s passed away, and my wife came home from work angry at the world. I was worried; Eva doesn’t anger often, and her grief seemed huge and unbearable. I couldn’t console her, so I asked Scott Staples, a friend who knew and …

Lyn Lifshin: an Appreciation

By | Book Review, Michael Simms, Prose

For thirty years, I’ve been reading Lyn Lifshin’s poems in independent literary magazines across the country.  I admire her integrity as a poet — she’s always true to her voice and vision — she never sounds like anyone else.  Here are three of her recent poems: Salsa it’s the moves not the man. He could be the size of a …

Copyright Law and the English Teacher

By | Michael Simms, Prose

(The director of our graduate writing program recently asked me to write an explication of “fair use” of copyrighted materials.) Much of the great literature that we want our students to read, for example, Shakespeare, Milton, Emerson, and Twain, is in the public domain — that is, not protected by copyright.  Any work that was published before 1923 can legally be copied and …

In Defense of Luddites

By | Michael Simms, Prose

Most people over the age of 50 nowadays have an attitude toward technology similar to mine, I think.  I use technology everyday.  I depend on it to do my job, practice my art, and maintain my social contacts, but I’m leery of it.  It seems to fail when I most depend on it, and I …