Posts by editors

ABCs of Poetry: C is for Confessional Poetry

Posted by on Apr 25, 2019 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on ABCs of Poetry: C is for Confessional Poetry

“I took a deep breath and listened to the old brag of my heart: I am, I am, I am.”  — Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar For a writer coming into consciousness in the twenty-first century, time before confessional poetry is murky. Writing the close- and confessional-I, an “I” that looks, sounds, and acts like the poet, feels default for young poets. But as anyone who has white-knuckled their way through another half-baked “how I lost my virginity” workshop poem knows, the genre, while familiar, is not easily tackled. Of course, the foremother of confessional poets, and the official sponsor of sad-girl poets, is Sylvia Plath. Plath’s poetry drips with emotion,...

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B is for Beginnings

Posted by on Apr 24, 2019 in ABC's of Writing (for Beginners) | Comments Off on B is for Beginnings

The way a poem begins matters more than anything else. If you can’t engage a reader or listener right away, all the other beauty you write will not reach them. Some years ago, at a conference, I heard an editor say that he makes a decision on a poem by the end of the first line, and feels no compunction rejecting it straight from that impression. I’ve been thinking about that a lot. Your first line has to sing or scream or quietly pull the reader in enough that they will continue. Let’s look at some poems that do this well. (I hope you will explore these poems to their conclusions on your own.) The first line of Lynda Hull’s “Jackson Hotel” — “Sometimes...

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A is for Anaphora

Posted by on Apr 23, 2019 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on A is for Anaphora

Which I love because it is the oldest poetic practice–feature of psalm and song, home of litany and liturgy–that you repeat a thing in the repetition you can intensify the reader’s sense of word as object and phrase as meaning.      Look at you! You are beautiful, my darling Look at you! You are so beautiful. Your eyes behind your veil are doves. Your hair is like a flock of goats. (“Song of Songs”) I like that anaphora connects me viscerally with the most primitive truth of poetry, which is that words have weight, and that weight is calibrated individually and mysteriously by every poet worth her salt. Once I saw a famous poet whip a crowd of...

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Behind the Words: Elizabeth Yalkut

Posted by on Apr 7, 2019 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Behind the Words: Elizabeth Yalkut

Elizabeth Yalkut’s “Momos” was published in Spry’s fourth issue. She takes a moment to discuss her poem and writing life with Katie Eber, a frequent contributor to our blog and miniseries. I love that “Momos” dives right into the idea of cooking as a show of love, and I love that it’s so short and to the point. Why does the short poem work so well for this particular subject? It would be ridiculous to make this snapshot overblown; it would be counter to the image presented. Look at the language: only, tidy, straightforward. Poetry isn’t known for being efficient — and goodness knows that I’m as prone as any poet to wandering...

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Behind the Words: John Repp

Posted by on Apr 6, 2019 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Behind the Words: John Repp

John Repp was published in the sixth issue of Spry Literary Journal. He takes a moment to catch up with co-founding editor Erin Ollila on writing and process. Erin Ollila: I’m always so interested on what sparks an idea for a poem. Where did the spark of inspiration for “The Invention of Gunpowder” come from? John Repp: I don’t know. Although I don’t keep track of such things, I’m reasonably sure I worked on this poem periodically over a long period, as I’ve done with all but a very few of my poems. Rereading it now, I suspect the “spark” came from the ox roast/Whippy Dip pairing, and I followed its teeter-totter lead as best I could. Is...

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