Category Archives: link wednesday

Link Wednesday – E-Readers, W.S. Merwin

Item 1How will poetry and e-readers mingle? An interesting article that raises concerns (and features Billy Collins) about how e-readers can display and potentially change poetry.

Item 2 – NPR has posted an interview with incoming US Poet Laureate W.S. Merwin. My favorite Merwin trivia – he currently lives on top of a dormant volcano in Hawaii in what used to be a pineapple plantation. Really embracing the poet as isolationist, there.

image from academy of achievement

Link Wednesday – Twitter, Kooser, Bach

Happy November!

Item 1 – Just in case we have another long break between posts, here is a link that will pass some time – The Longest Poem in the World courtesy of Twitter. It collects people’s tweets and splices them together in rhymed couplets, creating sometimes charming and always ephemeral results. Couplet of the moment:

Just stay positive and positive things will come…
were the but naked women and all the food at, hmmm???

Item 2American Life in Poetry. This is a weekly column written by favorite Ted Kooser. He features young and mostly unknown poets and couples it with a short musing of his own. A recent-ish column caught my eye due to the event it references.

It’s likely that if you found the original handwritten manuscript of T. S. Eliot’s groundbreaking poem, “The Waste Land,” you wouldn’t be able to trade it for a candy bar at the Quick Shop on your corner. Here’s a poem by David Lee Garrison of Ohio about how unsuccessfully classical music fits into a subway.

Bach in the DC Subway

As an experiment,
The Washington Post
asked a concert violinist—
wearing jeans, tennis shoes,
and a baseball cap—
to stand near a trash can
at rush hour in the subway
and play Bach
on a Stradivarius.
Partita No. 2 in D Minor
called out to commuters
like an ocean to waves,
sang to the station
about why we should bother
to live.

A thousand people
streamed by. Seven of them
paused for a minute or so
and thirty-two dollars floated
into the open violin case.
A café hostess who drifted
over to the open door
each time she was free
said later that Bach
gave her peace,
and all the children,
all of them,
waded into the music
as if it were water,
listening until they had to be
rescued by parents
who had somewhere else to go.

and a video of Joshua Bell, the Bach-performing violinist in 2007.

Link Friday – Recession? What Recession? Poets are already broke.

NPR brings an interesting angle to the current economic discussion. Noting that while publishing is in a tailspin, poetry publishing is relatively sheltered, being used to living on scraps. So next time your parents flip out that you live on ramen noodles and scribble words on scraps of paper, you can gently remind them that they’ll be joining you soon enough.

The above site also provides a link to a Planet Money Haiku contest. I think my favorite is the following:

Technical writer
Moved to the Haiku Department —
Still paid by the word.
–Thomas Lanaghan

Link Tuesday – National Poetry Month, Poets play baseball and graduate Nixon

The site has been quiet recently – lots going on. But we certainly couldn’t let National Poetry Month pass us by. Since April has been so named it gives news organizations license to run their “special interest” pieces. We certainly could never hope (nor wish) to link to all of them, but you will find a few. And if over the course of the month you come across particular sites or stories of interest, please share them. Now read on for assorted and sundry links!

  • Poem in Your Pocket Day. About what it sounds like. On April 30th various organizations encourage you to carry a poem in your pocket – share it with your friends. I think the most famous example of someone carrying a poem in his (or her) pocket was Percy Shelley – supposedly he had Keats’ poetry in his shirt pocket on the day Shelley drowned. So, there’s that (link courtesy of nataline).
  • So Thursday (4/23) is Shakespeare’s birthday. Cool. Apparently people are encouraging Talk Like Shakespeare Day to celebrate this. will not be participating.
  • NPR has been doing a number of poetry stories recently (no doubt tied to NaPoMo). Here’s one that discusses performing Wendell Berry’s work. Wish we could have seen the performance.
  • And unrelated to anything at all – faithful reader johnlos alerts us to the existence of the Whittier College Poets. As he notes in his email, “Whittier College is probably most famous for being where Richard Nixon went to undergrad. For some reason their athletics aren’t very well known…” Alas.

Link Wednesday – John Updike, the Obamas, poetry slamming

Against all odds, the feature returns. This will be playing a bit of catch-up, touching on some stories over the past couple of weeks.

  • On January 27 John Updike passed away. He was best known for his prose work (books like Rabbit, Run), but was also a well-regarded poet. Much has been written about him, but this obituary from the New York times was particularly well-written and thoughtful.
  • The Times also printed a poem from his forthcoming collection:


    It came to me the other day:
    Were I to die, no one would say,
    “Oh, what a shame! So young, so full
    Of promise — depths unplumbable!”

    Instead, a shrug and tearless eyes
    Will greet my overdue demise;
    The wide response will be, I know,
    “I thought he died a while ago.”

    For life’s a shabby subterfuge,
    And death is real, and dark, and huge.
    The shock of it will register
    Nowhere but where it will occur.


  • The North Carolina Literary Festival website has finally been launched. It will be hosted by UNC-Chapel Hill from September 10-13 2009. More as it develops.
  • A little slam poetry about Barack and Michelle Obama’s imagined first date. Make of it as you will. (link courtesy of nataline).
  • Continuing with poetry slam, NPR features four poets and their writings about love. We here at may have missed Valentine’s Day by a few days, but you can still check it out. The link includes text and readings.