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Saturday, February 16, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Stories tagged: American Life in Poetry


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, …


American Life in Poetry: For Elizabeth, Who Loved to Square Dance

At a friend’s wedding, as she stood in her reception line, an older woman leaned in and whispered, “Always rinse your dishrag in cold water so it won’t stink.” Advice! …


American Life in Poetry: ‘Bees Were Better’ by Shihab Nye

The University of Minnesota Press has published a fine collection of bee poems, “If Bees are Few.” Here’s one by one of my favorite poets, Naomi Shihab Nye, who lives …


American Life in Poetry: ‘The Hot Dog Factory (1937)’

Grace Cavalieri, who lives in Washington, D.C., has performed a great service for American poetry over the past forty years with her public radio show, “The Poet and the Poem.” …


American Life in Poetry: ‘The Guardians’ by Jill Bialosky

Jill Bialosky is a New Yorker, an editor at W. W. Norton, and a daughter grieving the loss of loved ones.


American Life in Poetry: ‘Milkweed’ by Bradford Tice

Here’s a poem celebrating milkweed by Bradford Tice, whose most recent book of poetry is “What the Night Numbered,” from Trio House Press. Our Monarch butterfly population depends upon milkweed, …


American Life in Poetry: ‘Snow in August’ by Catherine Stearns

Poets are experts at capturing those moments when one thing reminds us of another. Here snow reminds Catherine Stearns of something we can imagine took place years before.


American Life in Poetry: ‘Honeysuckle’ by Karla Morton

My boyhood home in Iowa was surrounded by honeysuckle bushes that my father sprayed with the hose on summer evenings, and we’d open the windows and have 1940s air conditioning, …