David Cherry's blog

The "How" is Easy; the "What" and "Why" are the Hard Parts.

Photo by Thomas Smillie. Courtesy Smithsonian InstitutionThis is the age of the how-to. The Complete Idiot’s Guides and For Dummies franchises are wildly successful for a reason: it seems a lot of folks are under the impression that any task, including building a full-scale replica of the Great Pyramid of Cheops, is a do-it-yourself project as long as they have enough time and the right book

Trouble in Mind: A Backhanded Appreciation of Edward Hirsch

Cover Art: Demon and the AngelMy feelings about the poetry of Edward Hirsch are troublesome to me. They’re similar, I think, to my feelings about gin and French cinema–I like the idea a good deal more than the reality. This is not to say I don’t appreciate his work; I do. When I read him, I admire his skill and his touch, the complexity of feeling and thought, and the way each poem seems to know and take its place in relation to all poems that have gone before. But I rarely get that high, white hum reading him--that feeling that the world is going to be a very different place when I lift my eyes from the page.

Poems by the Pound

If you’ve ever taken an Intro to American Literature course in high school or college, you will remember the textbook well, and not necessarily for the gems from the western canon that it contained. If you’re like me, you remember that book for its sheer physical weight and the way the straps of your backpack cut into your shoulders as you slogged across campus to the classroom where an instructor stood waiting to flog the life out of Bradstreet, Hawthorne and Melville.

Confession May Be Good for the Soul, But Is It Good For Poetry?

We could argue till the monkeys finally type out Hamlet about whether or not the so-called Confessional Poets--Robert Lowell, Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, et al--deserve Cover Art: Sylvia Plath: A Critical Studythat title, and whether or not they are to blame for the widespread notion that the writing of poetry is primarily a therapeutic endeavor practiced by angry and/or melancholic adolescents, and those who want “to get in touch with their true feelings.” Don’t get me wrong here --I’m all in favor of folks getting in touch with their feelings (just not before 10am on weekends), and I’

Poems for the Road, Part 2

Divine Comedy AudiobookPoets have always celebrated great journeys: Odysseus’ ten-year trek homeward from Troy; Dante’s hell-to-paradise hike with his trusty guide Virgil; Chaucer’s tale-spinning pilgrims pub-crawling their way to Canterbury, to name a very few.

Poems for the Road, Part I

The longest journey is inward.  -Dag Hammerskjold

It's vacation time again and I've been thinking a lot about journeys.

Whenever I go on a trip, along with the beach reads and travel guides,  I take along a book of poetry or two, and I'll tell you why:  because most poems are relatively short and poetry collections don't rely on narrative flow the way novels do, you can slip in and out of them more or less randomly. Waiting for the waitperson to bring you coffee? Grab a slice of Dickinson. Can’t bear to hear the summer’s official anthem even one more time? Read one of Rilke's Duino Elegies aloud to the cows grazing in the pasture at the side of the road. 

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