Category: on writing

…in which some of my published writing is presented

here’s a teaching playlist on Youtube for you

I just put up a new Youtube playlist: “Teaching Podcasts by Michael Jackman, Poet and Teacher.” There, you can watch videos I’ve made about poetry, teaching poetry, and teaching in general. If there’s something you’d like me to talk about, contact me.

trying to teach students not to use clichés

With experience as a writer comes certainty about clichés (and their exceptions). Don’t use ’em exclamation point period. These worn-out formulas add nothing to the writing. Setting aside characters like Hamlet’s Polonius who spout clichés as a way of demonstrating that very fact. Yet I have students in upper level creative writing classes who will debate that there’s nothing wrong...

listen to an amazing poem by Gwendolyn Brooks

Here’s Major Jackson reading an amazing poem by Gwendolyn Brooks, “Negro Hero.” The reading is part of a series celebrating the 110th Anniversary of the Poetry Society of America.. Check out the series here: poetrysociety.org/features/reading-through-the-decades.

A little advice on poem titles

I think poets should avoid certain kinds of titles. Particularly one-word titles such as, for example, “Claustrophobia” or “Illness.” Now, not all one-word titles are a problem. I mean the kind that explain or broadcast the poem’s “theme” to the reader. By “theme” in this case I don’t mean literary theme, a general statement about the human condition that we...

poems are not school papers

So many of my intro to creative writing students can’t get out of the habit of writing poems like papers, planning a “topic,” and outlining the “points” they want to make. They think of poems as “meanings” decorated with pretty, poetic language. No! The purpose of a poem is to convey experiences and emotions, which carry possible meanings on their...

Poetry Quote: Auden 3

Good morning! Continuing my travels through W. H. Auden’s Selected Poems, I arrived at this lovely verse. Auden seems to be channeling Shakespeare in this stage, with formal syntax and even in setting looking backwards (nothing like the American inventions of, say, William Carlos Williams et al.) But my, how he is finding his own interesting and inventive verse forms,...

Poetry Quote: Auden 1&2

Lately I’ve been reading the Selected Poems of W.H. Auden and posting bits I find interesting or inspiring. Here are two. This first one is very sombre, and fits with our pandemic times, as it did with his world sliding toward World War II. The sky is darkening like a stain, Something is going to fall like rain And it...