To Honor Poetry on World Poetry Day, Help Imprisoned Poets Across the Globe

By John Frederick Kaufman PEN International is profiling four poets on World Poetry Day now being held either in prisons or under house arrest for dissenting against injustice through art and/or journalism: Aron Atabek of Kzakhstan, Liu Xia of China, Amanuel Asrat of Eitrea, Dareen Tatour detained by Israel. To see what you can do…

The “Human Rights Poetry” of Yevgeny Yevtushenko Very Relevant Today

By John Frederick Kaufman Speaking of his poetry, here's what Russian poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko, who died yesterday in Tulsa, Oklahoma at the age of 84, told the Associated Press in an interview back  in 2007: "I don't call it political poetry, I call it human rights poetry; the poetry which defends human conscience as the…

Resist the “Instapoets”: a quick poem for the young

There are some things, like poetry, that cannot come easy if the thing is likely to last. Some advice: don't enter a building or a poem (or any long-term relationship) that is not carefully constructed for what you risk is deconstruction of all you thought you stood upon-- the present fails to slam the past and you fall until you…

Reflections on “postmodernism” upon the death of Professor Ihab Hassan

Though perhaps only of interest to students of American literature, the death this past week of former UW-Milwaukee English professor Ihab Hassan made news because he is credited for creating the term "postmodernism" to describe a style of thinking and writing prominent in the latter half of the 20th century, say after the trauma of…

Manash Bhattacharjee: How poetry & art express political commitment

Today's post comes to you via Guernica magazine and Indian poet, writer & scholar Manash Bhattacharjee.  In his short essay, Bhattacharjee explains why Sartre was wrong to claim that only prose can properly address and provoke political improvement. Here's a brief excerpt: "Poetry and art contribute to political sensibility by not merely appealing to the senses, but also…

For the Season: Longfellow’s poems of peace

Here are two poems by the 19th Century American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow who was, for the record, a Unitarian pacifist who reluctantly supported the Civil War as the only way of ending slavery. Before the war, in 1845, he, along with his wife, Fanny, visited the Springfield Armory where guns were built and stored…

“Prayer for Joy”: a poem by Stuart Kestenbaum via American Life in Poetry

American Life in Poetry: Column 505 BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE Stuart Kestenbaum is a Maine poet with a new book, Only Now, from Deerbrook Editions. In it are a number of thoughtful poems posed as prayers, and here’s an example: Prayer for Joy What was it we wanted to say anyhow, like today…

American Life in Poetry Column 498 by Ted Kooser

  Welcome to American Life in Poetry. For information on permissions and usage, or to download a PDF version of the column, visit http://www.americanlifeinpoetry.org. ****************************** American Life in Poetry: Column 498 BY TED KOOSER, U.S. POET LAUREATE   Here’s a lovely poem for this lovely month, by Robert Haight, who lives in Michigan.   Early…