Category Archives: Teaching Poetry

Sandwich Police make Burrito Bust

In my first-year poetry class, when introducing the idea of poetic ambiguity (rich ambiguity), I like to begin with a few examples of every-day ambiguity, in the form of so-called “crash blossoms“, those newspaper headlines that can go in two often amusing directions (e.g.: “Friends help murder victim’s family“). This morning my #CapeCod Twitter stack […]

Headline: Pentagon Requires Poetry Expertise

I’ve come across an old piece on Guantánamo Bay censorship policy, via a new piece on the same. The recent piece is about poetry going into the US facility there; the earlier article is about poetry coming out. It quotes some fascinating rationale for the close monitoring of poetry written by inmates: But most of […]

Wood, a poem

Here is “Wood”, a kind of poem:

You must be devastated today

From Paul Muldoon’s eulogy for Seamus Heaney, spoken at his funeral, yesterday:   I flew into Belfast International Airport yesterday morning…. The border security officer was interested in what I was doing in the US. I told him I was a teacher, and he asked me what I taught. I said, “poetry.” And he looked […]

Broken Hierarchies

Oxford University Press has announced this coming November as the publication date for Geoffrey Hill’s collected poetical writings, Broken Hierarchies: Poems 1952-2012. [Update 25.3.13: Cover Image] Who else will OUP be publishing this year? Here’s a complete list of all poetry titles: Geoffrey Hill, Broken Hierarchies Rumi, The Masnavi (bk 3) Robert Herrick, Complete Poetry […]

Domokun and Symbolism

In my poetry classes I often find myself going on about symbolic conventions and symbolic systems, especially in the context of broader discussions of figurative language, and often to point out some distinctions between symbol and metaphor, or to show why a certain set of symbolic equivalences are irrelevant to the poem at hand (colour […]

Found Auburnun, by Geoffrey Hill

Inspired, or egged on perhaps, by my own recent discussion of found poetry in the satirical, parodic, or derivative mode, I’ve put together a new poem by Geoffrey Hill. Source below, plus the rules of composition, but let the poetry speak: Auburnun      fiede at acesaga ubur in ex lecta none Plumage coloration: sexually selected […]

Poetry. Whatever.

This from Ernie Lapore and Matthew Stone at the NYT Opinionator blog, “Philosophy and the Poetic Imagination” [2.12.2012]: In short, a poem — and artistic language more generally — is open to whatever we find in it.  Whenever we notice that an unexpected formal feature amplifies our experience of a poem in a novel way, […]

Teaching Time

Well it’s teaching time again, which means less blogging time in the next, oh, three to six months. But I still hope to post every couple of weeks or so, and hope especially to have cause to add to the “Teaching Poetry” section of the site. On the title of this post, at least three […]

Ways of Looking at “The Windhover”

Gotthold Lessing is credited (among other things) with pointing out that it’s weird for Classical writers to describe the art of poetry in terms of the visual arts, since poetry happens sequentially in time, and painting happens statically in space. But Lessing is wrong, or at least overly categorical. Before a word is read, a […]

“Obsession” on the active-passive divide?

Geoffrey Hill’s poem “Of Commerce and Society: 4” has received critical attention from almost everyone (partial list: Sherry, Knottenbelt, O’Neill, Robinson, Wainwright, Hart, Bloom, Ricks, and me). So I was surprised recently when I had (what I think is) a brand new thought about it.


In 2011-13, I’m investigating questions about poetry, value, and accident, in the context of a SSHRC Insight Development Grant, intended to ‘enable the development of new research questions, as well as experimentation with new methods, theoretical approaches and/or ideas’. The questions and methods I’m exploring all have something to do with why contingency, or accident, […]