Musings

new poems: North Meridian R.

I have three poems featured in The North Meridian Review: A Journal of Culture and Scholarship, Volume 1, Winter 2020 Special Issue. These are three “letter poems” from my chapbook manuscript-in-progress: Letters from Spickert Knob. You can read the issue here – thenorthmeridianreview.org/past-issues

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...

performance: John Prine’s “Angel from Montgomery”

I uploaded a remix today. My performance of John Prine’s “Angel from Montgomery” with the addition of a new cello track. The trio features me on acoustic guitar/vocals, Andy Mosholder on cello, and Aaron Lambert on cahon/percussion. Andy, of Harper’s Ferry, VA, arranged the cello part. I’m grateful for my musician friends for finding away to make music during the...

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.

“Paper Wings” (Gillian Welch) Cover

Here’s a track I forgot I had. Recorded a couple of years ago at TNT Studios in Louisville. Personnel: The Bourbon Sidecars with: Michael Jackman (acoustic, acoustic lead, vocal), Erich Stem (fiddle), and Tim Haertel (upright bass). Added some photos of pre-pandemic music life because I miss it so much. By the way, all members of The Bourbon Sidecars are...

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...