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Category: Poetry

Book Review: Arthur Guiterman’s The Mirthful Lyre

I learned about Arthur Guiterman because several of his poems were included in the Library of America’s book American Wits: An Anthology of Light Verse (American Poets Project). I was so taken by the poems I read there that I decided to find some of his books online. They’re all out of print, but fairly easy — and relatively inexpensive — to find.

The Mirthful Lyre was published in 1918, when Guiterman was in his late 40s. It’s divided into several sections: Folks And Things; A Few Children; To The Littlest Of All; Fauna And Flora; and All-Out-Doors. Many of the funny poems are in the first section, but I was most impressed and moved by the All-Out-Doors section, Guiterman’s series of love songs about nature.

The nature poems are sensitive and adoring, displaying the poet’s obvious passion for escape from his city life. He seems to be completely at home in the woods, lovingly describing the animal life, the sound of the wind in the trees, and the stillness of travel by canoe.

Guiterman is well worth searching out. Highly recommended.

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Book Review: Tripping with DJ Spinoza

If comedic-philosophical-absurdist-hip-hop-opera poetry is your thing, you’re going to dig DJ Spinoza. I picked this up on the advice of a blog. It’s a fast read, and one that I think will reward repeated attention. This first edition is limited to 1,500 copies, and I’d get one if I were you.

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POEM: Last Night I Watched

Last Night I Watched
by Jason Crane

Last night I watched an American president-elect on the television and cried. Next to me was my wife Jennifer, tears running down her cheeks.

Last night I watched the awakening of a nation that had all but given up on its principles and ideals.

Last night I watched Jesse Jackson hold one finger to his trembling lips as he wept, the marathon runner finally crossing the finish line.

Last night I watched John Lewis talk about the unbelievable road from “Whites Only” bathrooms to steel truncheons on the Edmund Pettis Bridge to the steps of the Capitol.

Last night I watched an actor from The Color Purple rest her chin on the shoulder of a friend as she watched an African-American man speak about his future presidency.

Last night I watched an ocean of joyful tears give a gentle lift to the ship that is America.

Last night I watched Walt Whitman as he knelt down and pulled a blade of grass from the rich earth, singing.

Last night I watched as Kenyans danced on dusty ground, arms raised toward the glorious sun.

Last night I watched as a crack opened in the wall, and looking through, I could see the glimmering field of stars.

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November 5, 2008

Poet Gerald Schwartz sent me his thoughts this morning:

For times, then,
All through our lives
We delight in a unity,
The great union,
Of our ventured selves
With what sustains
All possibility. We ride
The swell and are
The surf and with
Changed belief
Inner and outer
We find our talk
Turned to hope:
Our hope into truth:
For a time, early,
We become at home
In you, World.

–Gerald Schwartz

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