New Poet Laureate: Tracy K. Smith

We have a new U.S. Poet Laureate: Tracy K. Smith! In 2011, her book of poetry Life on Mars won a Pulitzer. She currently teaches at Princeton.

Some things you might not know about this position:

  • The official title for this position is: Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress.
  • The librarian of Congress (currently Carla Hayden) appoints the position.
  • This position started in 1937 and the stipend accompanying it is only $35,000.

Here’s a link to NPR’s article “Tracy K. Smith, New U.S. Poet Laureate, Calls Poems Her ‘Anchor'”

20170522sm024_wide-61390e60fef5489723fa9cf98dbf3a8ae76f7fe0-s600-c85

picture from NPR


The Good Life

Tracy K. Smith
When some people talk about money
They speak as if it were a mysterious lover
Who went out to buy milk and never
Came back, and it makes me nostalgic
For the years I lived on coffee and bread,
Hungry all the time, walking to work on payday
Like a woman journeying for water
From a village without a well, then living
One or two nights like everyone else
On roast chicken and red wine.
New Poet Laureate: Tracy K. Smith

A Poem: “Summer at Blue Creek, North Carolina” by Jack Gilbert

Summer at Blue Creek, North Carolina
Jack Gilbert

There was no water at my grandfather’s
when I was a kid and would go for it
with two zinc buckets. Down the path,
past the cow by the foundation where
the fine people’s house was before
they arranged to have it burned down.
To the neighbor’s cool well. Would
come back with pails too heavy,
so my mouth pulled out of shape.
I see myself, but from the outside.
I keep trying to feel who I was,
and cannot. Hear clearly the sound
the bucket made hitting the sides
of the stone well going down,
but never the sound of me.

A Poem: “Summer at Blue Creek, North Carolina” by Jack Gilbert

Friday Five: Five Reasons to Join the Pennsylvania Poetry Society

Five Reasons to Join the Pennsylvania Poetry Society (or at least check out what they’re doing).

I have been a member of the Pennsylvania Poetry Society for three years, but only recently attended a spring meeting.  This was such a fun experience, it prompted me to write this post, with 5 reasons to join PPS, Inc.

  1. The Pennsylvania Poetry Society holds two meetings each year with workshops for developing your inner poet.  These workshops provide time to talk with other poets, share work, and work with poets from throughout the state. The most recent workshop featured Dana Sauers. 
  2. Meeting people who are also interested in reading and writing poetry. From their twitter page: “Founded in 1949, the PPS assists its members in the development of their craft and fosters an intelligent appreciation of poetry.”
  3. The PPS also runs an annual contest with 17 categories.  Members have the opportunity to enter 3 of those 17 that non-members cannot. The winning poems are published each year.
  4. Joining this group allows can give you notice about many other contests, which they share on Facebook and Twitter.
  5. Joining this group will help you if you’re trying to work on your own writing. Each newsletter (produced four times a year) provides a challenge for writing poetry, and there’s also an online publication each month, called Pennessence. There are plenty of opportunities to challenge yourself and publish your writing.

Posted by Kate, Blog Editor and Book Reviewer for PCTELA

Friday Five: Five Reasons to Join the Pennsylvania Poetry Society

A poem for today: “Mr T” by Terrance Hayes

Mr T–
Terrance Hayes

A man made of scrap muscle & the steam
engine’s imagination, white feathers
flapping in each lobe for the skull’s migration,
should the need arise. Sometimes drugged
& duffled (by white men) into a cockpit
bound for the next adventure. And liable
to crush a fool’s face like newsprint; headlines
of Hollywood blood and wincing. Half Stepin’ Fetchit,
half John Henry. What were we, the skinny B-boys,
to learn from you? How to hulk through Chicago
in a hedgerow afro, an ox-grunt kicking dust
behind the teeth; those eighteen glammering
gold chains around the throat of pity,
that fat hollow medallion like the sun on a leash —

2002

A poem for today: “Mr T” by Terrance Hayes

Poem: “The Poet’s Occasional Alternative” by Grace Paley

The Poet’s Occasional Alternative

Grace Paley

I was going to write a poem
I made a pie instead it took
about the same amount of time
of course the pie was a final
draft a poem would have had some
distance to go days and weeks and
much crumpled paper

the pie already had a talking
tumbling audience among small
trucks and a fire engine on
the kitchen floor

everybody will like this pie
it will have apples and cranberries
dried apricots in it many friends
will say why in the world did you
make only one

this does not happen with poems

because of unreportable
sadnesses I decided to
settle this morning for a re-
sponsive eatership I do not
want to wait a week a year a
generation for the right
consumer to come along

Poem: “The Poet’s Occasional Alternative” by Grace Paley

Happy Poetry Month. Here’s “Invictus” to start your month.

Meeting as a PCTELA board this morning to discuss matters of business and the fall 2017 conference. I asked our board some favorite poems, and Julie Mihalic Dinaples replied that “Invictus” was her favorite.

Invictus
William Ernest Henley

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.

Happy Poetry Month. Here’s “Invictus” to start your month.

Students: submit poems by March 15

The National Federation of State Poetry Societies will be closing their student contest in 3 days on March 15, but there’s still time to submit to this free contest.

From their website:

No entry fee required.  Open only to students in grades 9 through 12.
Sponsored by Kay Kinnaman Sims and Nancy Baass.
Subject: Any
Form: Any
32 line limit.
1st Prize: $50. 2nd Prize: $30. 3rd Prize: $20
For contest rules head here.
As we’ve posted about before, having a real, live audience can encourage students to produce their best work. And having a cash prize doesn’t hurt, either!
Students: submit poems by March 15