Feb 112013


It appears I’ve been remiss in posting to my own blog. In fact, the last post before today occurred about 16 months and one week ago. Yikes. Your forgiveness, I beg.

Here are three things I wanted to point you, my faithful two or three readers, to:

A List

The University of Arizona Poetry Center asked me to put together a list of ten recommended books for young adults for its wonderful WordPlay blog.

Take a gander:


You might think that, as a father of two teenagers, I’d have a good handle on the books that have influenced these vibrant young women, and I could simply list those. They are both voracious readers, after all, and my wife and I read aloud to them nightly for years. But making any kind of assumptions about teenagers can be tricky, alas, and so (with one or two exceptions) the books I list over on WordPlay are instead the ones that most influenced me as a young adult, predominantly in high school and college. They include work by Edward Abbey, Aldo Leopold, Mary Oliver, J. K. Rowling, and more. Check it out!

A Class

Hey, speaking of the Poetry Center, I’m teaching a six-week class there this spring, beginning February 18, titled Poetry in Bloom: Reading and Writing Poems of Flowers, Gardens, and Landscapes.

Here’s the class description:

Flowers, gardens, and floral landscapes have long been a source of poetic inspiration. “O, my Luve’s like a red, red rose / That’s newly sprung in June,” wrote Robert Burns in 1794. Two hundred years earlier, Sir Edmund Spenser gave us the inspiration for “roses are red, violets are blue.” Today, plants and gardens provide rich metaphor, image, and form for poetry. In this class we’ll explore the lush and literary pathways of the poetic and floral. We’ll dedicate half of our time to reading and discussing poems of and about plants, drawing on the long history of flowers and gardens and leafy landscapes in poetry as well as contemporary work, and we’ll spend the rest of our time on poetry-writing exercises and workshopping of student poems. One class will be held in the field on a botanical trip. This class is open to all skill levels of poets, gardeners, and those who simply want to stop to smell (and write about) the roses.

I spent much of this weekend putting together the custom, 100-page anthology of poems we’ll use (well, we’ll only explore a dozen or so, the rest are for the enjoyment of class participants at their leisure). I must say, I’m really excited about this class, and about getting back to writing some of my own poetry, too.

Won’t you join us? Learn more and register here. The course is held at the beautiful Poetry Center, and tuition is $170 + $5 course fee.

A Tribute

This last note comes with much sadness: On December 16, poet and friend Jake Adam York died from a massive stroke. I’ve written a tribute (plus included some links to Jake’s work appearing in Terrain.org) that begins on the Terrain.org blog and appears in full on Essay Daily: “Aftertude, or The Five Stages of Loss: Remembering Jake Adam York.”

Check out the first link for the intro and other links, and the second link for the full tribute:



The tribute begins:

1. Isolation

Because there is blood streaming from his side, a man is screaming. This is not a metaphor. Because the wound has split the taught muscle beneath his arm, he is flailing like a snared fish, the panorama of his tattoos turned to bright scales among the dark spray. Because I am not the angler, I am a bystander. Because I am only a bystander, I do not dial 9-1-1 when the man stumbles into the coffee shop on Colfax and Lipan, though others do. Because I am killing time at a coffee shop on Wednesday morning waiting for the memorial service of Jake Adam York, I am a witness. Though I am one of many witnesses, I am in this alone.

2. Anger

I have been reading Jake’s essay “Recovery: Learning the Music of History” because recovery is the right word for how we attempt to go about our lives after someone we care about suddenly dies, as my friend Jake Adam York did on December 16, following a massive stroke. Because in that long essay I can return in some small sense to the man I’ve known and admired for twenty-two years, and because even if we can’t truly recover, his words become a living text. Because they offer renewal.

Read the full tribute.

I should have some other interesting news to share over the next few weeks and months. Much of my news relates to Terrain.org, so be sure to check out the journal (in its new design!) and follow the blog.

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