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Saturday, July 20, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Stories tagged: American Life in Poetry


American Life in Poetry: ‘Origami’ by Joyce Sutphen

We haven’t published nearly enough poems written for young people, and here’s one I like a great deal.


American Life in Poetry: ‘Work’ by Sally Bliumis-Dunn

When I was a nasty little kid I once made fun of a girl in my school because her father worked cutting up dead animals at a rendering plant. My …


American Life in Poetry: ‘My Mother’s Van’

How many of our mothers set aside what they wanted to do with their lives and chose instead to make good lives for us? This poem is from Faith Shearin’s …


American Life in Poetry: ‘Taking Turns’

I like this poem for the way it portrays the manner in which we study the behavior of others and project our own experiences onto their lives.


American Life in Poetry: ‘Pinned in Place’ by Thomas Reiter

Ezra Pound commanded America’s poets to “Make it new.” And here’s a good example. Has there ever been another poem written, and written beautifully, about children playing among laundry drying …


American Life in Poetry: ‘Happiness’

Is it worse to live in a city where you can’t see a big storm coming until it’s right on top of you, or to be out on the plains …


American Life in Poetry: ‘Happiness’

This poem by Richard Jarrette, a Californian, takes on not only the description of an old house, but what might have happened there and what might happen anywhere.


American Life in Poetry: ‘Weren’t We Beautiful’ by Marge Saiser

Marge Saiser, who lives in Nebraska, is a fine and a very lucky poet. With the passing of each year her poems have gotten stronger and deeper. That’s an enviable …


American Life in Poetry: ‘Old Country Portraits’

There are so many fine poems in Richard Robbins’ new and selected poems, “Body Turn to Rain,” published by LynxHouse Press, that I had a difficult time choosing one to …


American Life in Poetry: ‘Bakery of Lies’

I’ve had my eye on Americans’ obsessions for more than 70 years and I can’t remember a time when public lying got as much attention as it does today. Attention …


American Life in Poetry: ‘Exit Glacier’ by Peggy Shumaker

The glaciers that flattened my part of the world made their exit eons ago, but in Alaska, where Peggy Shumaker lives and writes, they’re just now beginning to turn back. …


American Life in Poetry: ‘The Girl from Panama’ by Clemens Starck

Clemens Starck of Oregon has 50 years’ experience working with his hands, as a merchant seaman and then a carpenter, and he knows work and working people. Here’s a typical …


American Life in Poetry: ‘Housewife as Poet’ by Sally Van Doren

Until about a hundred years ago, the worth of a poem was measured by how noble and elevated was its subject and its manner of delivery, but with the appearance …


American Life in Poetry: ‘The Cache’ by Dan Gerber

Squirrels hide many more acorns than they can find, and thus we have oaks. And a child might hide precious belongings, then hide the map that gives their location, then …


American Life in Poetry: ‘Talking About the Day’ by Jim Daniels

A young father and his two small children, tucked into a comfortable old chair at the end of a day. What could feel better than that?


American Life in Poetry: ‘Youth’ by David Steingass

It’s been a very long time since I was young, but I remember the giddiness of first love, and David Steingass, a Wisconsin poet, shows us in this poem how …


American Life in Poetry: ‘Covering the Mirrors’ by Carol V. Davis

Carol V. Davis lives in California, and once was an artist-in-residence at the Homestead Monument in Nebraska, where I met her. The following poem, her fourth to be published in …


American Life in Poetry: ‘No Encore’ by Betty Adcock

For me, poetry’s most moving subject is impermanence, and I will never read too many poems about it, each with their own very personal and specific points of view.


American Life in Poetry: ‘After the Opera’ by Richard Schiffman

Here is a poem by Richard Schiffman that has a little fun with the hair-on-fire excesses of grand opera.


American Life in Poetry: ‘The Address Book’

I’ve arrived at an age at which I avoid looking into my old address books, although I’ve kept them all. Too many of those addresses are those of people no …


American Life in Poetry: ‘Strict Diet’

James Crews, who lives in Vermont, was for two years our assistant at American Life in Poetry. A fine poet in his own right, he has just published a new …


American Life in Poetry: ‘In Spring’ by Rose King

I’m writing this column in the earliest days of another spring, and here’s a fine spring poem from Rose King’s book “Time and Peonies,” from Hummingbird Press. The poet lives …


American Life in Poetry: ‘Good News’ by Steve Langan

Some of the mannerisms of poetry that can get in the way of an everyday reader’s enjoyment are elevated diction, obscure references, and a vocabulary that requires a trip to …


American Life in Poetry: ‘Startled’ by Sally Bliumis-Dunn

I’ve never seen a frigate bird (or a frigate) but wanted to offer you a poem to prove that the hawks and crows of the Great Plains aren’t the only …


American Life in Poetry: ‘Bird’ by Dorianne Laux

With Dorianne Laux I’ve shared the experience of having a bird enraged at her reflection in a window.


American Life in Poetry: ‘Yard Sale’

I’m devoted to yard and garage sales, and love to spend time with friendly strangers in scuffed front yards and oily, dim garages. Here’s a poem by Matthew Brennan, who …


American Life in Poetry: ‘Laundress’

One thing I’ve tried to do with this column is to show off poets who do indeed write about contemporary American life, and who see deep into the ordinary parts …


American Life in Poetry: ‘From where I stand’

Poems that move back and forth through time can be intriguing. In this poem by Pat Schneider, she looks deep into the past and evokes it in compelling detail, though …


American Life in Poetry: ‘Aquarium’

I’ve had a couple of aquariums (or is the plural aquaria?), but I didn’t take very good care of either one.


American Life in Poetry: ‘The Vanity of the Dragonfly

Nancy Willard, who died in February, was one of my favorite poets, with an enviable gift for inventive description. She published poetry, fiction, essays and children’s books, one of which, …