A poem begins as a lump in the throat, a sense of wrong, a homesickness, a lovesickness.
August 1, 1915: Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken was first published in the Atlantic Monthly 102 years ago today. While the poem works as a metaphor for the weight we put on turning points in our lives, Frost later insisted the verses were simply inspired by a literal walk in the woods.
Sometimes thou seem’st not as thyself alone, But as the meaning of all things that are.
Dante Gabriel Rossetti
February 10, 1862: Poet Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s wife, Lizzie Siddal, died 152 years ago today. At her funeral the distraught husband lay the only manuscript of his poems to rest in his wife’s coffin. Seven years later, he had her body exhumed and retrieved his work.
The universe is made of stories, not of atoms.
During a five-decade literary career, American poet and political activist Muriel Rukeyser (born December 15, 1913) produced work rich with commentary on human rights issues and inequalities of gender, race and class. Her more than a dozen poetry collections reacted to events including the Spanish Civil War and American aggression in Vietnam. One of her last poems, The Gates, was written after she traveled to South Korea to protest the imprisonment of poet Kim Chi-Ha.
Let us go forth with fear and courage and rage to save the world.
Grace Paley (born in the Bronx on December 11, 1922) was an American short story writer, poet, teacher, and political activist. Her Collected Stories was a finalist for both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. Her other books included the short story collections The Little Disturbances of Man (1959), Enormous Changes at the Last Minute (1974), and Just As I Thought (1999).
There are books so alive that you’re always afraid that while you weren’t reading, the book has gone and changed, has shifted like a river.
Marina Tsvetaeva (born October 8, 1892) is considered one of the most accomplished Russian poets of the 20th century—but her life was filled with sorrow and tragedy. She primarily wrote lyrical verse, and when she left the Soviet Union to live in Berlin, Prague, and Paris, her work began to reflect a growing nostalgia for her homeland (Homesick for the Motherland). Ultimately her army officer husband was arrested for espionage along with their daughter, and Tsvetaeva killed herself in 1941 after he was executed.
I believe in the magic and authority of words.
In the early 1930s, popular French poet René Char (born June 14, 1907) rubbed elbows with Pablo Picasso and Albert Camus, but when World War II brought German soldiers to his country, he put down his pen and said goodbye to his friends. Char joined the French resistance in 1940, leading troops and commanding a parachute drop zone under the nom de guerre Captain Alexandre.
Writing is learning to say nothing, more cleverly each day.
Irish poet William Allingham (born March 19, 1824) achieved a moderate level of fame during his lifetime, but he is best remembered for his posthumously published diary, which was edited by his wife. The diary details his entertaining encounters with Alfred Tennyson, Thomas Carlyle, and other famous writers.
Once, poets were magicians. Poets were strong, stronger than warriors or kings — stronger than old hapless gods. And they will be strong once again.
Happy birthday, Greg Bear! The acclaimed science fiction author was one of the original co-founders of San Diego Comic-Con. The first convention, held in 1970, drew about 100 attendees, but nowadays the world-famous event attracts over 100,000 fans per year.