What Sparks Poetry

What Sparks Poetry

The Poems of Others
What Sparks Poetry is a new, serialized feature in which we invite poets to explore experiences and ideas that spark new poems. In the feature’s first series, The Poems of Others, our editors pay homage to the poems that led them to write. Each issue comprises a short essay and a poem writing prompt.

Upcoming Contributors

Heather Green on Marilyn Chin's "Horse Horse Hyphen Hyphen"
July 22
Layli Long Soldier on Kazim Ali's "July"
July 29

Catch Up on Issues of What Sparks Poetry

"Always a walker in woods and hills, observer of birds, weather, and ways, I was immediately drawn to the lived, practical, right here moments in the book’s three sections, 'Logging,' 'Hunting,' and 'Burning.'"
—Susan Tichy

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Series

The Poems of Others

The experience sent me off into the stacks to read for myself some of the poems I had heard Angelou read. Rereading I realized I could begin to rehear the music I had heard in person; following the lines, as I read out-loud, I felt my own voice approximate the same sounds. This was thrilling and utterly new.

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Series

The Poems of Others

 The premise of “When You Go Away,” is familiar: when the lover is separated from the beloved, the order of the world changes. Given the limits of this conventional subject, how did Merwin make a thing both faithful to its convention and new? I found an answer to my question in the complexity of the poem’s final lines: “my words are the garment of what I shall never be / Like the tucked sleeve of a one-armed boy.”

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Series

The Poems of Others

At first blush, I was equally confused and excited. It’s a sonnet! Case closed. But the rhyme scheme is off, and it has both a volta and a parting couplet, elements of Petrarchan and Elizabethan sonnet traditions. It’s a hybrid, a fused form, it dances between two worlds, two traditions.

Publication Date

Series

The Poems of Others