BBAW: Profile of Poetry Blogger Everything Distils Into Reading

BBAW has bled over into the weekend for me for several reasons:

  1. I waited too long to send out my interview questions to poetry bloggers I wanted to profile.
  2. I have a crazy life with a 1 year old.
  3. I remembered at the last minute that it was BBAW and already had a review scheduled for the week.

However, that does not mean that you can’t have fun reading my profile interviews of poetry bloggers.  It’s good to highlight these daring bloggers and to see how they view poetry.  Plus, I hope they will convince you to give poetry a try.

Today, I’ve got a great interview with Gautami of Everything Distils into Reading, who also writes her own poetry, which you can view at Rooted.

As a reader of poetry, what is it that poetry can provide that you think other genres do not or what makes poetry unique? Why do you read it?

Poetry is spirituality for me, the writing of it, the reading of it. Poetry encapsulates so much in so little. I consider myself a poet first and foremost. It is a way of life for me. Take away my poetry and I am merely existing.

Thinking about new readers of poetry, what are some of the mistakes you think they make when approaching a poem? What are some tips that can improve their enjoyment of the genre?

Poetry is seldom literal. One has to look for depth. Many times, the reader interprets differently from what a poet wishes to convey. That is good too, because the poet too learns about what the reader thinks. My advice is to keep on reading poetry and the rest will fall into place.

About how many books of poems do you review each year on average? Do you have an established goal of how many or is it a more organic process?

I used to review 12 poetry books a year. Lately, I have not been able to do so. However, that has not stopped me from reading poetry. I read it all the time, in print form and/or on the net!

As someone who lives outside of the United States, do you find that poetry is more popular, less popular, or about the same as it is in American or other cultures? What kinds of poetry books do you find yourself recommending?

Poetry is not popular at all. No one wants to read it. It requires deep understanding and patience and no one seems to have any time.  I recommend that one should start from reading contemporary poets and go slowly back to classics.  Structured poetry is also a good starting point. I did the other way round. I started with classics and now I read contemporary poetry.

What are you reading now? How do you view the world of poetry and its future?

I am reading Carl Sandburg and loving it.  And I do think poetry has a great future. It is not going to die any time soon. Or maybe never. As long as I live, I will keep on writing poetry.

Thanks, Gautami, for answering my interview questions. And for participating in my BBAW profile experiment.  We are kindred spirits in that without poetry we would merely be existing.

BBAW: Profile of Poetry Blogger Read Handed

As a last profile in honor of Book Blogger Appreciation Week, I sent over a few interview questions to Julie at Read Handed.  Her blog has a bit of everything, from poetry to nonfiction and literary fiction, and she’s a librarian who tells her readers that you’ll probably see books on her blog that aren’t what everyone else is talking about.

Please check out what she had to say about poetry and blogging.

As a reader of poetry, what is it that poetry can provide that you think other genres do not or what makes poetry unique? Why do you read it?

Poetry to me is largely about the words – their sounds, their forms, and (lesser so) their meanings. In poetry, every word is deliberate. In a novel, or even a short story, one word, or even an entire sentence, can be ineffective without lessening the overall work too much. Not so in poetry. That is why it fascinates me so much. Poets are masters of language, knowing when words can be cut to make the feeling more immediate, but also knowing which words are essential to the poem.

Thinking about new readers of poetry, what are some of the mistakes you think they make when approaching a poem? What are some tips that can improve their enjoyment of the genre?

The biggest mistake readers make when they approach poetry for the first time is assuming there is some secret code – some one singular meaning that must be derived. Then, if they don’t “get” that intended meaning, they feel like they failed at reading the poem. This is not true.

Yes, most poets have a “meaning” in mind when they craft a poem, but it is not our job as readers to figure out that meaning. And sometimes, poets leave the meaning intentionally ambiguous. Poetry is what you make of it. Whether it’s a phrase in the poem that just works and stays with you for the beauty of how it sounds, or an image that resonates with you, or a meaning you derived that speaks to you – these things all make for a successful poetry reading.

My main advice would be to stop trying to figure out what the “experts” think the poem means, or even what the poet intended the poem to mean. Instead, simply enjoy the poem. Read it aloud, roll the words on your tongue, and delight at how they fit together.

About how many books of poems do you review each year on average? Do you have an established goal of how many or is it a more organic process?

I review probably 2-3 books of poems a year. It’s really an organic process, though this year I did have a set goal of 2 for the Fearless Poetry Exploration Challenge. In general, I tend to not read books of poems cover to cover, though that is a great way to get to know a poet. Instead, I read poems randomly, pulling from several books at once. For me, reading poetry is more about the individual poems than the collections.

As a librarian, how often do you recommend books of poetry to patrons? Do you find yourself recommending poetry books to friends/family? If so, which ones do you recommend mostly?

Well, I work in an academic health sciences library, so poetry does not come up often (i.e. at all) with my patrons. But I do recommend poets to my friends and family. Again, I tend to concentrate more on the individual poem than the collection, and poets in general more than a specific volume. Some poets that I love recommending are Liz Robbins, Gerald Stern, Sara Teasdale, and Lisel Mueller.

What are you reading now? How do you view the world of poetry and its future?

Not reading too much poetry right now, unfortunately. I’m actually reading an information literacy instruction handbook for work. I have been meaning to read more in my Seamus Heaney collection, so maybe that will be next.

I think poetry will continue to be a sort of niche genre. The proliferation of the Internet has both helped and hurt poetry in that regard – it has exposed more people to poetry, but it has also let anyone “publish” their bad poetry. Either way, I don’t think poetry is going anywhere, but I also think that most poets will continue to have a hard time making a living on poetry alone.

Thanks, Julie, for answering these questions and participating.

BBAW: Profile of Poetry Book Blogger The Written World

So for my final Book Blogger Appreciation Week (BBAW) profile of poetry book bloggers this week, I’m going with a relatively new reader of poetry, Kelly of The Written World.  She’s also the other half of The Poetry Project.

As a relatively new reader of poetry, how would you describe your experiences so far? What poems or poets have you loved and which have you disliked?

I describe my experiences as a tad bit overly paranoid. I am always worrying that I am not getting the idea behind the poems. As a result I overthink and then miss things entirely. It is a problem I have long had with poetry sadly. I still haven’t read a lot of poetry, but I did enjoy my time with Robert Frost last month. I had read his poetry before, but not in such a quantity. It was basically a poem here and there in school. In the end I read two collections.

Because you’re a new reader of poetry, was there a particular catalyst that started your journey to read more poetry? And why had you not read poetry before?

A conversation on Twitter lead to the Poetry Project. First, there was just a list of poems to read and then it grew into something more wide-spread. I think it is working having a poetry fan and a not so poetry fan reading together. Leslie says “look at all these wonderful poems” and I slowly explore them and decide it is not so bad. I hadn’t really read poetry before because I don’t get the appeal. I am a novel fan over the shorter types of writing. I also don’t read a lot of short story collections. I am trying to get beyond that, though.

As the “other half” of The Poetry Project with Regular Rumination, what are your goals for the project and how did you come up with the monthly themes? Was there a slew of ideas and a particular process of elimination or was it easily agreed upon?

The idea of The Poetry Project is to read more poetry. Now that others are joining in, it is basically to get people reading and talking about poetry more. The themes came about because people felt overwhelmed deciding on what to read. This way they can either read in the themes or still have a chance to explore whatever they want to read. As to the themes, Leslie and I both chose 6 and then rotated months. Some of them are decided for the seasons, holidays, events, etc. that happen during that month. Others were random choices. If we successfully get near the end of a year, we plan to get participants to pick the next 12 themes.

Do you read full books of poetry or do you just read individual poems?  Have you been reviewing books of poetry on your blog, The Written World?

In the beginning, I was just reading a poem here and there. In August, though, the theme was ‘Pulitzer Winners’.  I went back to some of the early award-winners and found their collections in the public domain.  As a result, I read poetry collections in August. Very impressive for me! Every Wednesday one of us says something poetry related. I just say a few short lines about the poems. I sometimes include favourite lines. I wouldn’t call them reviews, though.

What are you reading now? How do you view the world of poetry and its future in your reading life?

The theme for September is classics. I have been trying to decide what to read. There is a lot that would fit into that category. One of the few poetry books I owe is a collected works of Emily Dickinson, so I was thinking maybe I would hunt that down. As to the future, I am hoping that I will become comfortable enough with poetry that even without the Poetry Project I will explore something poetry-related each month. There is so much out there that I haven’t tried. It’s a slow process, but I have made big changes so far this year. I would like to think, anyway!

Thanks, Kelly, for answering my questions, and I can’t wait to see what the Poetry Project has in store in 2013 and what you discover in poetry.

BBAW: Profile of Poetry Book Blogger Regular Rumination

I was honored to win the poetry blogger award for BBAW in the past, but I also thought that any blog featuring poetry should be recognized since there are so few of us.  As part of that process, I looked to my network of blogs that I read and love, and thought it would be great fun to profile at least one poetry blogger this week in honor of Book Blogger Appreciation Week.

To that end, I sent over a few interview questions to one of my blogging and Indie Lit Award judging buddies, Lu from Regular Rumination.  She’s one of the first bloggers I noticed posting about poetry, so I think it’s appropriate that she’s the one I profile today.

When did you first read poetry and what drew you to it? Or if you were initially put off by poetry, what changed your mind?

I think I first read poetry seriously my freshman year of high school. My teacher passed out copies of Pablo Neruda’s “I could write the saddest lines” and I immediately fell in love. I remember inhaling poetry from then on, but my love for poetry also came from wanting to write it and wanting to write it well. In college, I took as many poetry workshops as I could and now I miss it.

I don’t know that I was ever put off by poetry, but I’m not sure I would have fallen in love with poetry if we didn’t have to focus on it in high school. We also were required to write it, which was when I discovered that I really enjoyed it. For me, I often don’t learn to appreciate something until I’ve tried to do it myself. After that project ended, I joined an old AOL message board called My Poetry and Writing, and not only continued to write poetry, but also found my first online community. Now that I’m older and write poetry a lot less than I would like, I read poetry because it is important to me. It is less about learning how to write and more about seeing the world in new, exciting, and beautiful ways.

About how many books of poems do you review each year on average? Do you have an established goal of how many you will read and/or review each year? Or is the process more organic?

My blog has slowly moved away from reviewing books and I often find myself discussing specific poems over specific books of poetry. I have reviewed several collections over the years, but I rarely have established goals of any sort for my blog. I find that makes me avoid doing them; really, if there’s anything I don’t want to do for my blog, I should just say I’m going to do it. I like my reading to be more organic. I have made a conscious effort, though, to read more poetry every week, whether it is an entire collection, the monthly issue of Poetry Magazine or the daily email from Poets.org.

Tell us a little bit about the Read More/Blog More Poetry project (click on the image to learn more) that you started at Regular Rumination and what inspired you to start it and how has participation been? What are some upcoming events associated with the project?

What started out as the Read More/Blog More Poetry event has turned into The Poetry Project, which was started by myself and Kelly, from The Written World. It all started as a request on Twitter from a few bloggers for a list of poems. I wrote a list of my favorite contemporary poems and Jason from Moored At Sea made a list of classic poems. Kelly and I started talking about wanting to share the lists and also to convince more people to blog about poetry. Kelly is a new reader of poetry and I think that’s what makes us a good team: we have two very different experiences with poetry, but we both want to read more of it. The Project isn’t really about reading a specific poem or posting at a certain time, though we do have monthly optional themes, it’s really just about getting your feet wet with poetry and with blogging about poetry, if you’re new to poetry, and about making poetry a more visible part of your blog if you’re already a regular poetry reader.

What I think has been most successful about The Poetry Project is that anyone can participate, whether you’ve just started reading and blogging about poetry or you’re a seasoned poetry reviewer. It’s turned into a small community of people who are blogging about poetry and how they relate to it. The only real requirement is that you blog about poetry and link back to the post. Kelly and I are committed to including a roundup of each participants posts at the end of the month, so there’s one place where everyone can go back and look to see what we’ve all read and talked about. Participants are even contributing original poetry! It’s been really amazing.

Recommend some poets for beginners. Recommend some poetry translations or poetry for those who’ve read more poetry than others.

If you’re new to reading poetry, I think Edna St. Vincent Millay, for an older poet, and Natasha Trethewey, for someone more contemporary, are excellent places to start.

If you’re looking for something that’s a bit of a challenge, I really recommend Derek Walcott and, in translation, Neruda’s Residence on Earth. In the US and around the world, Neruda is famous for his love poetry, but the poems in this book are a love poem of a different sort. They focus on the earth and our relationship with our physical surroundings. They are beautiful and sensual and sometimes difficult.

What are you reading now? How do you view the world of poetry and its future?

Right now, I am still reading some of the collections I have out from the library for last month’s Poetry Project theme of Pulitzer Prize-winning poetry, including Marianne Moore’s collected poems. I am also always reading the Poets.org Poem-A-Day emails.

As for the future of poetry… I’m not sure. I think there are enough dedicated readers of poetry in this world to keep it an active and thriving community, even if it is a very small one. I hope that there will be enough English teachers like mine who help foster young people’s passions about poetry.

About Regular Rumination from Lu:

Regular Rumination is my own corner of the web where I talk about books, poetry, crafts, and whatever else is on my mind. I started it back in 2008, while I was home from college on winter break, looking for a great book to check out from the library. My life has changed a lot since then, but my blog has been the constant.

Thanks so much, Lu, for participating in this week’s BBAW profile of poetry bloggers.

BBAW: Interview with Lit and Life

Welcome to day two of Book Blogger Appreciation Week (BBAW). Today is the interview swap with another blogger, which is always my favorite part. Lit and Life is a blog that I’ve read off and on, though not always commented on, for several years. She’s one of the participants in the WWI Reading Challenge this year at War Through the Generations, and she’s got some fun features.

Let’s get to the interview, shall we:

1. Lit and Life is your piece of the Internet where you talk about books and life. What have been some of your most popular blog posts? Which books have generated the most discussion? What life posts?

For my first year of blogging, I was obsessed with my stats. Then I came to realize that as long as I didn’t monetize my blog, I didn’t really care how many people read my blog each day since, first and foremost, I’m blogging for me. Along the way, I’m happy that other people do check in and comment but I can’t really tell you which posts were the most popular. I do always notice that I get a lot more discussion when I review non-fiction books and my Sunday Salon posts always seem to get some discussion going.

2. It says on the about me page that you love flea markets (me too!). Do you just go to browse or do you have specific lists of items you are looking for? What is the most unusual thing you’ve found at a flea market that you just love and why?

I always have some things I’m keeping an eye out for when I go to flea markets, “antique” malls and stores and auctions. Old children’s books, pieces of pressed glass that match the ones I collect, frames and architectural elements are always on my radar. But I love to just browse and keep my mind open to interesting new things. Twenty-five years ago, my husband and I found an old kitchen table at an auction that we picked up for five dollars. We refinished it but it’s a table that clearly has a history and I love that about it. I think it tells people a lot about the kind of household we have.

3. If I were to give you a book of poetry, would you read it? Why or why not? If you’ve read poetry in the past, which book or poet have you read and would recommend to others?

Absolutely I’d read it although I might have to check back in with you frequently to have you explain it. It’s probably cliche to say it but I do love Emily Dickinson. I must admit that I struggle to read some poetry – I’ve tried to read “Leave of Grass” several times but Whitman really makes you think and I can only read about one of his poems a day. That makes getting through the book endless and I usually end up setting it aside since it’s so long. I did read my kids a lot of poetry when they were growing up – Shel Silverstein and Jack Prelutsky were big favorites and we often did art projects based on their poems.

4. Fairy Tale Fridays is a unique part of your blog. Do you prefer new or old fairy tales? What draws you to these stories and which would you recommend as must reads?

I’m a sucker for the old fairy tales but I do love to read the new takes on them. I think the history and the darkness of fairy tales is what really draws me to them. I’m also fascinated by trying to figure out what it is about a tale that made it something that people passed on and how so many of the core stories are found in countries all over the world. There are a lot of great collections of fairy tales, although it is hard to find books that encompass tales from more than one source. There are some great books for children based on fairy tales including Rapunzel Illustrated by Paul Zelinsky and The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales by Jon Scieszka. Check out Goodreads list of the best fairy tales and retellings for some great adult and children’s books.

5. What are your top 3 go-to book blogs for recommendations and why?

It’s funny that my top book blogs have changed over the past three years. In the beginning, I really stuck with the big bloggers, but over the years, I’ve found the blogs that bring me opinions on the kinds of books I like but also expose me to books I might otherwise pass by. Three blogs that are my go-to’s right now are: Book Chatter, Rhapsody In Books Weblog, and Life In The Thumb. But, let’s be honest – after clearing my reader, I still have 75 blogs that I read and enjoy on a regular basis.

If you’re interested in the interview she did with me, check it out.

BBAW: Profile of Poetry Blogger Necromancy Never Pays

This year, I’m taking a different perspective with Book Blogger Appreciation Week (BBAW) in that I’ll be profiling some poetry book bloggers this year, in addition to my traditional participation in a blogger interview on Tuesday, Sept. 11.

For today’s post, I’m featuring Jeanne at Necromancy Never Pays, which is the home of Trivial Pursuit for Book Bloggers.  Jeanne has helped judge the inaugural Indie Lit Awards for Poetry winners last year, and I always look forward to her reviews of poetry/poetry collections.  She takes a nuanced approach to these reviews, often pulling out a favorite poem from a collection to discuss in depth.

Without further ado, please check out my interview with her and stop over at her blog for her BBAW posts this week.

When did you first read poetry and what drew you to it? Or if you were initially put off by poetry, what changed your mind?

My parents, especially my mother, read poetry out loud to me. I remember particularly hearing the poems from A Child’s Garden of Verses, Alice in Wonderland, and Through the Looking Glass out loud. She read Dr. Seuss’ Happy Birthday to You out loud every year (she and my brother and I all still recite it–being tall, I’ve always taken particular delight in “the tallest of all-est”). When I got older, she read me poems by Robert Service. Before I learned to think much about the sense of the words, she taught me to delight in the sound of the rhymes.

About how many books of poems do you review each year on average? Do you have an established goal of how many you will read and/or review each year? Or is the process more organic?

The process is organic. Sometimes I wake up with a certain poem going through my mind. Sometimes I look one up, because I know I’ve “felt” something like this before. Occasionally I look for a poem just because it will give me something to carry around in my head all day.

Recommend some poets for beginners. Recommend some poetry translations or poetry for those who’ve read more poetry than others.

I think narrative poems are great for beginners. Robert Service tells funny stories. C.S. Lewis tells good stories, too. Some of the Romantic and Victorian poets wrote narrative verse–The Lady of Shalott has always been a favorite of mine.

For people who already read poetry and want to branch out, I’d recommend comparing translations of something like Rilke’s Duino Elegies. I’ve done this all my life, searching for the one that first made me love them, and still haven’t found it. But I’ve found a lot of good phrases along the way. Who knows, at this point maybe I wouldn’t be as fond of that original translation as I was at the age of 14 or so.

I also recommend browsing. I have the luck to work in a college library, so each month I go and flip through the new volumes of poetry to see what I might like.

In terms of favorite and perhaps less-read poets, I think everybody should try more poems by Wallace Stevens.

Necromancy Never Pays is not strictly about poetry, but as someone who is in the academic world, how important do you think talking about poetry online is and why?

I am “of” the academic world, but not so much “in.” I think people in a liminal position notice more about their surroundings, and that’s part of what poetry does; it offers new perspectives.

Talking about poetry online is as essential as anything I’ve ever done in my life. Most people need more poetry, but they don’t often know it. Blogging about poems used to be an extension of teaching about them, for me, but now that I’m not teaching poetry in the classroom anymore, I’m re-discovering some of those poems in a more personal way, which I think is the only way to share a love of poetry. It works on emotions, so showing why you love it involves feelings.

What are you reading now? How do you view the world of poetry and its future?

I’m thinking about a way to make a John Donne poem accessible to readers of my blog (probably The Flea), still re-reading Todd Davis, sampling Katrina Vandenberg’s Atlas (this was a recommendation from another blogger), and making my way through Maureen McLane’s My Poets.

The world of poetry and its future? People will always be reading and writing poetry. I hope that my contribution to this world will be to help open it up and remind people of how to experience it for themselves. So many times when poetry is served up at the table, people push back and say, “I’m full already” when what they mean is more like the British sometimes describe their reaction to being offered a French gateau for dessert: “that’s much too rich for me.” A taste for poetry is as basic as a child’s longing for sweets. The trick is to keep developing your tastes, so you can appreciate the more subtle flavors.

Thanks for continuing to keep those of us who love poetry organized a bit, Serena. You’re always creating more community and enthusiasm.

You’re welcome, Jeanne, and thank you for answering these questions at the last minute.

BBAW 2010: Future Treasures

Today is about future goals and treasures.  I’m going to take a new twist on this topic as well.  Since my love of poetry is well known and I know that many of you are reluctant poetry readers, but generous people.  I’m going to put out a call for donations to my favorite poetry organization, The American Academy of Poets.

This organization not only has a free database of information about classic to contemporary poets, but it allows users to read and listen to poems online.  From Apps that bring poetry to your smartphone to local and national events for poets and poetry, the organization’s goal is to not only spread the word about the genre, but also support poets through competition for first book prizes and other awards.

Supporting American poets is one goal, but I’ve always thought one of their overarching goals is to widen the audience for poetry by capturing them online and in person.  I’d like to call on you to donate to this great organization to preserve the future poetry treasure that are yet to be written.

All you have to do to enter this global giveaway is donate — no sum is too small — to the academy, which runs programs for the public and poets, including support for National Poetry Month events across the United States.

  • Go to Poets.org and use the drop-down “Donate” menu to select Donate Now.
  • Fill out the required fields
  • A new screen will give you donation choices from $25-$1,000, but there is also an “Other” selection where you can input any amount.
  • You can designate any program you like from the drop-down menu.
  • After inputting your payment information, please paste the following in the comments section “Savvy Verse & Wit Poetry Donation Drive.”

Once you’ve done that, please come back and leave your confirmation number or email it to me at savvyverseandwit at gmail dot com with “Savvy Verse & Wit Poetry Donation Drive” in the subject.

I’ll pick a random winner for the following books:

1.  Wishing Trees by John Shors

2.  Safe From the Sea by Peter Geye

Deadline for this GLOBAL giveaway is Sept. 30, 2010 — Deadline extension to Oct. 30, 2010, at 11:59PM EST


BBAW 2010 Forgotten Treasures

Forgotten treasures abound throughout literature from classics to unknown contemporary novels, but as expected, I want to talk about poetry and the forms of poetry that are not often used or attempted anymore.

A majority of poetry these days is in free verse, though there are some contemporary poets who do dabble in sonnet, which is considered a restrictive form.

Sonnets come in two styles:  Shakespearean and Petrarchan.  Shakespearean sonnets are those most taught in school and consist of 14 lines  in iambic pentameter, which could be thought of a normal speaking rhythm, and contain ten syllables in each line.  These sonnet also typically have the following rhyme scheme:  a-b-a-b, c-d-c-d, e-f-e-f, g-g — with the final lines rhyming one another.  Petrarchan sonnets, on the other hand, have an octave and sestet that offers a resolution at the end of the poem, while the ninth line offers a change in tone or mood.  The typical rhyme scheme begins with a-b-b-a, a-b-b-a, while the remainder of the rhyme scheme offers one of two choice:  c-d-e-c-d-e or c-d-c-c-d-c.

Check out the example from Shakespeare:

Sonnet 20

A woman’s face with nature’s own hand painted,
Hast thou, the master mistress of my passion;
A woman’s gentle heart, but not acquainted
With shifting change, as is false women’s fashion:
An eye more bright than theirs, less false in rolling,
Gilding the object whereupon it gazeth;
A man in hue all hues in his controlling,
Which steals men’s eyes and women’s souls amazeth.
And for a woman wert thou first created;
Till Nature, as she wrought thee, fell a-doting,
And by addition me of thee defeated,
By adding one thing to my purpose nothing.
But since she prick’d thee out for women’s pleasure,
Mine be thy love and thy love’s use their treasure.

Check out the example of a Petrarchan Sonnet by Petrarch:

Sonnet 131

I’d sing of Love in such a novel fashion
that from her cruel side I would draw by force
a thousand sighs a day, kindling again
in her cold mind a thousand high desires;

I’d see her lovely face transform quite often
her eyes grow wet and more compassionate,
like one who feels regret, when it’s too late,
for causing someone’s suffering by mistake;

And I’d see scarlet roses in the snows,
tossed by the breeze, discover ivory
that turns to marble those who see it near them;

All this I’d do because I do not mind
my discontentment in this one short life,
but glory rather in my later fame.

Villanelle is another style that has disappeared from contemporary literature and contains not only rhyme, but a refrain using either trimeter or tetrameter.  Trimeter is three metric feet per line, while tetrameter is four metrical feet.  The poem has 19 lines.  These poems only have two rhyme sounds and the first and third line of the first stanza are rhyming refrains that alternate as the final line of each successive stanza before forming a rhyming couplet at the end of the poem.

Here’s an example from Dylan Thomas:

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Sestina has six six-line stanzas with a tercet for a total of 39 lines.  The same six words end the lines of the six-line stanzas, but in alternating order:  123456, 615243, 364125, 532614, 451362, and finally 246531.  “These six words then appear in the tercet as well, with the tercet’s first line usually containing 6 and 2, its second 1 and 4, and its third 5 and 3,” according to Wikipedia.

Here’s an example from Ezra Pound:

Sestina:  Altaforte

Loquitur: En Bertrans de Born.
Dante Alighieri put this man in hell for that he was a
stirrer-up of strife.
Judge ye!
Have I dug him up again?
The scene in at his castle, Altaforte. “Papiols” is his jongleur.
“The Leopard,” the device of Richard (Cúur de Lion).


Damn it all! all this our South stinks peace.
You whoreson dog, Papiols, come! Let’s to music!
I have no life save when the swords clash.
But ah! when I see the standards gold, vair, purple, opposing
And the broad fields beneath them turn crimson,
Then howl I my heart nigh mad with rejoicing.


In hot summer have I great rejoicing
When the tempests kill the earth’s foul peace,
And the lightnings from black heav’n flash crimson,
And the fierce thunders roar me their music
And the winds shriek through the clouds mad, opposing,
And through all the riven skies God’s swords clash.


Hell grant soon we hear again the swords clash!
And the shrill neighs of destriers in battle rejoicing,
Spiked breast to spiked breast opposing!
Better one hour’s stour than a year’s peace
With fat boards, bawds, wine and frail music!
Bah! there’s no wine like the blood’s crimson!


And I love to see the sun rise blood-crimson.
And I watch his spears through the dark clash
And it fills all my heart with rejoicing
And pries wide my mouth with fast music
When I see him so scorn and defy peace,
His lone might ‘gainst all darkness opposing.


The man who fears war and squats opposing
My words for stour, hath no blood of crimson
But is fit only to rot in womanish peace
Far from where worth’s won and the swords clash
For the death of such sluts I go rejoicing;
Yea, I fill all the air with my music.


Papiols, Papiols, to the music!
There’s no sound like to swords swords opposing,
No cry like the battle’s rejoicing
When our elbows and swords drip the crimson
And our charges ‘gainst “The Leopard’s” rush clash.
May God damn for ever all who cry “Peace!”


And let the music of the swords make them crimson!
Hell grant soon we hear again the swords clash!
Hell blot black for always the thought “Peace!”

Cinquain is another often forgotten form that has two styles Crapsey and Didactic, but each has a five-line pattern.  Crapsey cinquains have a syllable count of 2, 4, 6, 8, 2, with a fixed number of stressed syllables in this pattern:  1, 2, 3, 4, 1, using iamb.  Didactic cinquains generally begin with a one-word title, followed by a pair of adjectives describing the title/subject of the poem.  The third line is a three-word phrase that provides more information about the title, and the fourth line has four words to describe feelings related to the subject.  In the fifth line is a single-word synonym or another reference to the title/subject.

Crapsey Cinquain example:

November Night

Listen. . .
With faint dry sound,
Like steps of passing ghosts,
The leaves, frost-crisp’d, break from the trees
And fall.

These forms do take quite a bit of patience and diligence to craft, and I applaud any contemporary poet that takes them on.  I’ve always loved sestinas and villanelles, but I can’t seem to write them well.  It’s something that will take a lot of practice.

For the GLOBAL giveaway:

Tell me which of these forms you would find hardest to write and why.


Provide an example of one of your favorite poems in one of these forms.

Deadline is Sept. 19, 2010, at 11:59PM EST

Books up for Grabs:

1.  A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick

2.  The Tudor Rose by Margaret Campbell Barnes

BBAW 2010 Unexpected Treasures

I want to thank everyone who has stopped by to check out the giveaway by making their own poem and those that read and commented on my interview with Book Harbinger.

Today’s topic is to discuss an unexpected treasure — a book or genre I’ve tried because of a blogger’s recommendation.  I cannot tell you how many times bloggers have influenced my reading choices.

Dewey began it when she recommended the novella The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett.  I miss her dearly — her reading and her enthusiasm for books was infectious.

In the last year, I’ve read Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane on audio book because Sandy at You’ve Gotta Read This!!! was blown away by the audio.  Her thoughts on the audio were infectious, and I had to check if my library had a copy of this audio.  I got it on playaway, and while the narration was eerie and engaging, the story itself didn’t affect me the way that it affected her, but I was OK with that.

On the other hand, My Friend Amy and Things Mean A Lot reviewed Nothing But Ghosts by Beth Kephart and I knew it was a book I had to read.  As a poet, I knew the lyrical and descriptive language would be right up my alley and I was not disappointed.  Kephart’s writing is something I had been searching for in young adult literature.  Her novels deal with universal themes of grief, death, sibling rivalry, love, and coming of age, but her writing pulls you in and will not let you go.

I was so enthralled by this writer and her novel that I’ve read two others since.  I really enjoyed Undercover, which spoke to my inner teenager who wrote in secret and was often on the outside of the social circles in my junior and senior high school years.  Kephart captured a time in my life that I thought no one could possibly understand.  Her latest book, Dangerous Neighbors, is a different young adult novel that is set in 1876 Philadelphia.  Many of the YA novels I’ve read are contemporary, and it was a real treat to read a novel set in the past.

For my second GLOBAL BBAW giveaway, all you have to do is answer one of the following questions.

What bloggers have influenced you this year? And what books have they encouraged you to read?


What book do you think readers have been influenced to read by your own blog?

Deadline is Sept. 19, 2010, at 11:59 PM EST

What’s up for grabs: (click the links for my reviews)

1.  The Widow’s Season by Laura Brodie

2.  Short Girls by Bich Minh Nguyen

3.  A Dangerous Affair by Caro Peacock

Stay tuned for more giveaways this week!

BBAW 2010 Interview With Holly Grierson of Book Harbinger

Today’s my Book Blogger Appreciation Week 2010 interview with fellow book blogger Holly Grierson who blogs at Book Harbinger and has been doing so since about May 2010.  She’s an avid reader of fantasy and young adult novels, a mother, a wife, and an assistant librarian.

You can find her on Good Reads and Twitter as well.

1.  You read quite a lot of fantasy and young adult books.  What interests you about these types of books and do you feel differently when reading these books as opposed to when you read literary fiction?

Part of reading for me has always been about transportation to another time and place. Too often contemporary novels seem so familiar, so like my normal day-to-day life that they’re uninteresting. That’s not saying I haven’t read a lot of great contemporary novels, adult and young adult alike, but I tend to alternate them with a couple of fantasy novels. There’s nothing like going to a world with endless possibilities yet one that still feels like home.

With young adult, the potential for genre-bending and original premises also seems limitless. Young adult readers are more flexible than adults in their expectations and authors can get away with anything. At the same time some of the pickiest, most reluctant readers are young adults so some of the most page-turning, entertaining books are found in the young adult section. For these reasons I don’t think YA will ever fail to entertain and excite me. In addition it’s often the teenage protagonists, with angst-y insecurities and challenges and all to whom I relate the most. I can’t seem to get enough of coming-of-age stories and the many “firsts” that young adult characters experience.

I don’t read much literary fiction at the moment but I do feel like I have different expectations when I read it as opposed to fantasy. For example I expect more of the writing in literary fiction more from the setting and characters in fantasy. In some ways anything goes with literary fiction and I definitely would like to get back into that genre.

What three fantasy novels would you recommend to someone who claims to “hate” fantasy novels and why? And what three novels or authors exemplify the best of the genre?

Is there any way I can talk to this fantasy “hater” personally and find out what they don’t like about the genre? That would definitely help. I don’t think I can recommend three novels if I know nothing else about the reader’s individual tastes. There are so many subgenres and different types of fantasy that I honestly believe there is something out there for everyone. It’s usually just a matter of finding the right genre or author. Some fantasy is lighter on the world-building and heavier on dialogue and character development and relationships. Some fantasy is much more realistic and requires less suspension of disbelief from the reader. By contrast epic or high fantasy may not be for everyone – even me – but I think scifi/fantasy, romantic fantasy, or historical fantasy can be many readers’ cup-of-tea occasionally if they find the right authors.

I still feel like too much of a fantasy novice to be doing this but the best authors IMO would be Juliet Marillier for historical/romantic fantasy, Sharon Shinn for scifi/angel fantasy, and Ilona Andrews for urban fantasy.

As an assistant librarian, do you work in a particular capacity or section? Did your library duties inspire you to blog about books or did blogging about books inspire you to work at a library?

Since my position is flexible I’ve worked all over the library, including collection development, reference, and circulation. I’ve even spent several months working with the City’s arts development. My favorite areas have been media, fiction, and general reference.

As far as my library employment affecting my blogging, it was more in an indirect way. After a couple of years of working at the library, some of my co-workers started signing up with Goodreads. After I joined in, I went from rating to writing short mini-reviews and finally to writing full-length ones. From there I began meeting other bloggers on Goodreads and started Book Harbinger.

On your blog, you mention a love of learning. Has this trait spilled over into your reading habits and how? And where do you think this love of learning originated (i.e. parents, friends, etc.)?

I think my love of learning may differ from the traditional sense, but it is true that I love learning both on an independent basis and in a more formal environment. I treasured my university years and would go back to school for an MLS or PhD in a heartbeat. A part of me wanted to stay in school forever and never become part of the real, less fun, and more uncertain working world. Since I’ve been out of school I try to keep up (very badly sometimes) with the latest in art history and keep my brain alive by reading non-fiction sometimes. Mostly I end up reading self-help books whenever I’m facing a problem, whether it be domestic, childcare-related, relationship-related, or concerning childbirth or religion. I enjoy research and find that being knowledgeable on all of the experiences I’m currently facing in my daily life is a given. It’s just who I am.

My love of learning definitely originated from both my parents and my in-laws. My mother-in-law is a professor of English at BYU (my undergraduate alma mater) who has varying interests in a number of subjects like physics, neuroscience, psychology, and religion as well as literature and the arts.

What are some of your obsessions outside of reading and blogging?

Watching TV shows with DH (Project Runway, So You Think You Can Dance, Parenthood, Chuck, and Community are some of our favorites). I live for traveling and tourist activities, which I did quite a bit of when I lived in London. I love exercising, particularly running, and yoga, which I try to teach and practice when I have a chance. I also enjoy discovering new bands and going to concerts. My main albeit mandatory obsession outside of reading is taking care of my 2-year-old son. I am also expecting a girl in January.

Congrats on your pregnancy!

You have two art history degrees. Have these degrees influenced your reading or blogging? Who are some of your favorite artists and do you think their works could be adapted into fantasy novels?

I’d like to think my very ‘style over substance’ interest in discussing book cover art on my blog is due to my art history background. Picking favorite artists is difficult but some of the ones I liked enough to research extensively during graduate school are Alfredo Jaar, a contemporary installation artist; Hannah Höch, a German Dadaist; Gabrielle Münter, a German Expressionist; and Rachel Whiteread, a contemporary British sculptor.

I haven’t ever given thought to the idea of adapting a painting into a fantasy novel, but it’s an interesting concept. Hannah Höch did some Surrealist paintings in the 1920s like Vereinigungen (Associations) which would be both imaginative and abstract enough to form the basis of a scifi or dystopian novel. There are some lovely works of the Pre-Raphaelite movement and paintings by J.W. Waterhouse that would be perfect for more traditional fantasy novels.

Check out this slide show of images to get an idea of what Holly is discussing:

Book Blogger Appreciation Week (BBAW) is a celebration of all book bloggers and continues to grow strong. As a new book blogger, how did you hear about the event and what prompted you to join in?

I heard about BBAW last year when some of the bloggers I’d been following like Angieville were up for awards. I enjoyed voting and reading the memes and blogging topics. It was a given once I’d started my own blog that I’d participate. It’s such a great opportunity to meet new bloggers, improve your own blogging, and promote your blog.

How many blogs do you read and how many are in your RSS reader? Are they primarily blogs that focus on the same genres as your blog?

Right now there are about 30 blogs in my reader. Lol I’m probably one of the rare bloggers that could use more blogs in their reader. I hope this BBAW week will change that! Most of the blogs I follow either focus on fantasy, young adult, or urban fantasy but I do read some that have more of a focus on romance or literary fiction. The writing, opinions, and voice of the blogger often matter more to me than whether they are necessarily reading the same books as I.

Do you see yourself as part of the book blogging community and how so? Did you have to do anything in particular to become a part of the community or did you just blog and hoped readers would find your blog?

Good question! Sure, I see myself as part of the book blogging community. Perhaps a very small portion of it but I couldn’t live without my little corner. I don’t think much is required to become a part of the community. Maybe keeping your blog updated and well-written. Visiting and commenting on other blogger’s posts also is a large part as well as participating in memes and reading challenges. I think any blogger can feel a sense of belonging if they want to. Of course I still hope readers will find my blog, and I participate daily in social websites like Twitter and blogger sites like Book Blogs mostly because it’s fun but also because it gives me a chance to meet new bloggers and get my blog out there.

Write a six word memoir for yourself.

Earnest, factual, loyal, accepting, observer, friend-for-life

Holly, thanks for answering my detailed questions and joining in the BBAW celebration.  I hope everyone will take the time to check out my interview on Book Harbinger.

Book Blogger Appreciation Week 2010 Starts Today!

If you are new to BBAW, you can check out the topic suggestions for the week.  I tend to pick and choose what topics I’m going to cover, and this year will be no different.  Rest assured, I will be sharing with you an interview with another blogger and the link to her interview with me on Tuesday, Sept. 14.

BBAW is a time to celebrate one another’s achievements and reading through discussion, features, fun activities, and even giveaways and awards.

What can you expect here on Savvy Verse & Wit?  Well, a celebration of poetry, a couple of reviews I had prescheduled, and some fun activities for you to participate in.

I hope everyone has a good time, and let’s check out the first fun activity I have for you.

Scholastic has this great little tool for kids to try their hand at several different forms of poems from haiku to free verse.  I think the site has a lot of other offerings to help kids learn about and enjoy poetry.

Now, I’d like all of you poets and non-poets out there to create your own poem using the Scholastic Poetry Idea Engine and share it in the comments.  It can be silly, intellectual, fun, or anything you want it to be.

Once you have your poem, please leave it in the comments, and I’ll select a winner or two for a gift card to Amazon.com for a U.S./Canada winner and a Better World Books gc for an overseas winner.

Have fun and read blogs!

Deadline for this giveaway, which is worldwide, is Sept. 19, 2010, at 11:59PM EST.

***Scroll down for today’s review***

BBAW Short Lists Are Out


Can you believe I’ve been short listed in two categories? I can’t! I’ve been short listed alongside some of my favorite blogs and even some others I haven’t heard of.

For the best Poetry Blog category, I’m happy to share the short list nomination with Jeanne at Necromancy Never Pays!

In the Best Author Interviews category, I share the honor with some other great bloggers:

Presenting Lenore
Savvy Verse & Wit

Wicked Lil Pixie

I hope that everyone voting will be sure to check out the links above and make the best selection in each category.  These posts contain the submissions for their respective categories.

Good luck to everyone.  And thanks for the nomination and short list!  I appreciate it.

Stay tuned for giveaways here on the blog during BBAW.