Friday Open Thread ~ poetry editon


From human suffering to political chicanery to environmental degradation, the tide of bad news, blared in headlines every day, seems overwhelming. One poet and classics scholar asks: What can be done?

Catastrophe overload? Read philosophers and poetry instead of headlines

What is a society without its poets? If all poetry disappeared from our libraries and shelves and virtual depositories tomorrow, would it make much difference to us? If we were forbidden to write poetry…

From execrable to memorable: an essay on the hatred of poetry

Over the years, Bill Moyers has welcomed some of America’s best poets to share their works and inspiration. Many of those writers have performed at the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival, which Bill and his colleagues covered for television specials including Fooling with Words (1999), The Language of Life (1995) and Sounds of Poetry (1999). Below, enjoy a showcase of such poetry from past productions and very recently from Moyers & Company, performed by the poets who dreamed them up, or by other artists who, like Bill, simply adore poetry.

Poets in Performance

Keats's Winchester walk was no idyllic stroll – he had espionage on his mind.

Keats’s ode To Autumn warns about mass surveillance and social sharing

The anxiety that young people are messing things up goes back centuries.

Millennial bashing in medieval times

Laden with animals, conspiracy theories and apocalyptic visions, Muhammad Fanatil al-Hajaya's poetry reflects how many Arabs – urban and rural, rich and poor – view the world.

In the verses of Jordan’s most popular poet, the hopes and fears of the Arab world

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enhydra lutris's picture

For the Consideration of Poets

by Haki R. Madhubuti


where is the poetry of resistance, the poetry of honorable defiance

unafraid of lies from career politicians and business men,

not respectful of journalist who write

official speak void of educated thought

without double search or sub surface questions

that war talk demands?

where is the poetry of doubt and suspicion

not in the service of the state, bishops and priests,

not in the service of beautiful people and late night promises,

not in the service of influence, incompetence and academic clown talk?


Nonetheless, there is poetic (or perhaps doggerel) justification for keepin' on keepin' on:


Razors pain you;
Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you;
And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren’t lawful;
Nooses give;
Gas smells awful;
You might as well live.

Zo, all that said,.
be well and have a good one

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

usefewersyllables's picture

was the incomparable Shel Silverstein. His 1961 opus, "Uncle Shelby's ABZ Book", was absolutely the finest work of children's poetry in my reckoning. Subversive as hell, and a great read.

It's been years since I had a copy, but as I recall, a good example was the letter C.

C is for Cyclops.
Isn't Cyclops a funny looking giant?
Cyclops only has one eye.
Go over and play with Cyclops.
Cyclops loves to play!
Go stick your finger in his eye
and call him "one-eye"

.......... And I will wait for you over here.

And then D.

D is for Daddy.
See Daddy sleeping on the couch.
See Daddy's hair.
Daddy needs a haircut.
Poor Daddy.
Daddy has no money for a haircut.
Daddy spends all his money
to buy you toys and oatmeal.
Poor Daddy.
Daddy cannot have a haircut.
Poor poor Daddy.
See these scissors?
Poor poor poor Daddy...

The illustrations really make the book...

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Twice bitten, permanently shy.

enhydra lutris's picture


X is always for xylophone.

be well and have a good one

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

smiley7's picture

Wishing may, saying hey

with hopes of bringing solace
to these dark nights

All day the birds came to me

in colors splendid

voices clear

And the hound patiently waited upon my slow gait

as if knowing

we are going.

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Sima's picture

@smiley7 Thank you, that really speaks to me!

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If you're poor now, my friend, then you'll stay poor.
These days, only the rich get given more. -- Martial book 5:81, c. AD 100 or so
Nothing ever changes -- Sima, c. AD 2020 or so

smiley7's picture


Thanks so much for reading and commenting.

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