Category Archives: Today’s Poem

Celebrating Anne Carson Every Day In August

I’m thrilled to introduce Bookgaga blog visitors to a very special guest book reviewer. Amanda Earl is an eloquent and prolific literary supporter, and writer and artist in her own right. I suspect many of you reading this blog already know her and perhaps have met her in person at one of the many arts events in which she takes part. Amanda’s most recent poetry chapbooks and e-books are “Sex First and Then A Sandwich” (above/ground press, Ottawa, Ontario, 2012), “me, Medusa” (the red ceiling press, UK, 2012). Her poems appeared recently or are forthcoming in Rampike, fillingStation and In/Words Magazine. Amanda is the managing editor of and the Bywords Quarterly Journal, and the (fallen) angel of AngelHousePress. Follow her on Twitter @KikiFolle or Pinterest For more information, please visit

If I understand correctly, the object of Today’s Poem (#todayspoem) is to expose the general tweeting public (the Tweetosphere) to a daily dose of poetry in 140 characters or less. These poem bits are also posted by ardent poetry enthusiasts or Internet junkies, take your pick, on Pinterest, along with a photo of the author or book cover. Today’s Poem is the brainchild of Vicki Ziegler, who I know as @Bookgaga on Twitter, but haven’t had the pleasure of meeting yet. I am trying to lure her to the Ottawa International Writers Festival this fall for tea and book mayhem.

I began taking part in Today’s Poem this year, most likely in January. At first, I simply opened a book of poems at random and tried to find an excerpt that was compelling and brief enough to post. I had some trepidations about this exercise. What if I wasn’t representing the poet’s work properly by excerpting those 140 characters? I found I often had to exclude parts of lines to fit within the 140-character limit or I could choose to continue in another tweet, thereby breaking the line with the noise from the traffic of other tweets. But the thought of the goal of the exercise, to help people (and myself!) rediscover or discover exciting poetry, motivated me to dive in. I think this is a very creative use of Twitter, which is often just a place for narcissistic self-promotion and the repetition of sweet homilies. I commend @BookGaga for her altruism and initiative.

July 12: “Sweet sweet sweet sweet sweet tea./Susie Asado.” Gertrude Stein

Short Talks, by Anne Carson

My most recent month-long ritual has been to post lines from the work of Anne Carson, not just her poetry, but also her translations of Greek and Latin plays, her essays and her novellas in poem form. I am fascinated by Carson’s exploration of form, the tension between formal elements and the everyday. As a former translator myself, though never a literary translator, I am interested in Carson’s take on the translation, both in the essays she writes about a single word, such as “bittersweet” and the translations themselves in the way in which they enliven and create their own new spaces, much in the way Erín Moure, another literary hero of mine, does with her translations from the Galician or invented personas.

I think of Anne Carson as a model of literary exploration, my older poetic sister. She is eclectic and daring, willing to try anything to explore the limits of her craft, and I respect that, aspire to it for my own writing. Not to mention that she didn’t have her first book published until she was 42 when Brick Books published Short Talks, probably the most treasured of her books on my shelves. While I’m past 42 by many years, Carson demonstrates that there is hope for the spineless.

Starting August 1, 2012, I posted a line from the most recent collection of her work I own, Nox. I don’t have Antigonick yet, Carson’s update of Antigone in a form similar to that of a graphic novel.


My poetry shelves are arranged for the most part alphabetically, and for the most part, according to the order that the work was published, but books have a tendency to unsort themselves for the avid reader. I posted lines from Carson’s work in approximately publishing order with most recent first.

August 1: “The phoenix mourns by shaping, weighing, testing, hollowing, plugging and carrying towards the light.” Nox (New Directions, 2010)

I am intrigued by Carson’s focus on the retelling of myth and the reanimation of Greek and Latin literature to present day. I wasn’t educated in the classics, alas. Carson’s writing is a way to learn about them, a way in.

I love Carson’s wit and sense of humour:

August 8, 2012: “Always planning ahead that’s me, practical as purgatory my mom used to say.” Decreation: Poetry, Essays, Opera (Knopf, 2005)

Am astounded by the beauty of her lines, which aren’t sentimental, but visual and memorable, often with an edge:

August 12, 2012: “A fell dark pink February heaven/Was/Pulling the clouds home, balancing massacre/On the rips.” Men in the Off Hours (Knopf, 2001)

The Beauty of the Husband, by Anne Carson

August 18, 2012: “Hotel gardens at dusk are a place where the laws governing matter/get pulled inside out,/like the black keys and the white keys on Mozart’s piano.” The Beauty of the Husband (Knopf, 2001)

Carson deals with concerns such as death, anger, youth, beauty in ways that resonate and strike a universal chord.

August 23, 2012: “Youth is a dream where I go every night/and wake up with just this little jumping bunch of arteries/in my hand.” Plainwater (Knopf, 1995)

For a very good overview of Carson’s work and insightful interviews, I heartily recommend:

  • the Blaney lecture from October, 2010

I have been gratified by the responses of others on Twitter and Pinterest. Carson’s lines from Today’s Poem have been retweeted and repinned by people from all over Canada and the UK, possibly from the States too. One of the goals of this exercise for me is to spread the good word about poets whose work excites me.

August 31: “Sappho begins with a sweet apple and ends in infinite hunger.” Eros the Bittersweet (Princeton University Press, 1986)

Six months of #todayspoem

Poets Linda Besner, Robin Blaser, Lavinia Greenlaw, Ko Un, P.K. Page and Ian Williams

or 147 poets in 184 days (or so)

Did I have any idea I’d be this far along a journey through poetry when a bunch of us bookish Twitter friends had the first #todayspoem discussion back in late 2011? What I did know is that I felt very committed from the outset to giving it a concerted try. I would do my best to read and share via Twitter every single day an excerpt from a poem to which I’d given some consideration and reflection. So far, so good. I was still enthusiastic when I checked in after two months, and six months in, I’m still interested, motivated, intrigued, jazzed … and have yet to miss a day.

What I didn’t know when I sent my first #todayspoem tweet on December 25, 2011 was where my poetry explorations would take me. What I also didn’t realize is how many others would be along for the adventure, and how their contributions, comments and insights would send me off on new side trips along the way.

Overall, the exercise (which has never felt like an exercise, actually) has compelled me to revisit and go deeper in my own library. It has also inspired me to go further afield in print and online, with poets with whom I was already familiar, but also very excitingly with poets old and new I was encountering for the first time.

And what of the daily poetry excerpts and selections themselves – my own and those of other #todayspoem contributors? Well, every day is a fresh intersection with where I am and how I’m feeling and what that day’s poem provokes, evinces or confirms. Not a day goes by that those simple tweets and where they lead have amused, amazed, surprised, touched, agitated, intrigued and more. Try it for yourself.

So, without (much) further ado, here is a list of the poets whose work I’ve read and incorporated in #todayspoem tweets since December 25, 2011. For each name, I’m going to link to a biography, article, interview, review or some other resource that might inspire you to go off on a few poetry side trips yourself. Thank you to the poets, publishers, #todayspoem contributors and poetry lovers in general who have filled and enriched the first six months of this venture, and are likely to help me turn this into a lifelong habit.

“How often I look back
for the moment my footprints
fade from sight

the dew undisturbed and the moss – “
Emily McGiffin, As Air from Between Dusk and Night (2012, Brick Books)

“To crow
would have been
out of place;
and besides
this rooster
wanted to be different.”
Irving Layton, The Laughing Rooster (1964, McClelland and Stewart)

“The paper’s still empty, the poem unwritten.
You would have done better to have talked to your mother.”
PK Page, How to Write a Poem from Coal and Roses (2009, Porcupines Quill)

“For he is tenacious of his point.
For he is a mixture of gravity and waggery.”
Christopher Smart, from Jubilate Agno (written 1759-1763)

“Kevin Costner stayed in this hotel
Babe Ruth and Calvin Coolidge too
This is a sacred place”
August Kleinzahler, Sleeping It Off in Rapid City (2008, Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

“I started spelling my name backwards,
retreating from the space a name makes.”
Rosemary Sullivan, Sisters from The Space a Name Makes (1986, Black Moss Press)

“and the wind began to blow and all the trees began to bend
and the world in its cold way started coming alive.”
John Darnielle, Woke Up New from Get Lonely (2006)

“It’s the spot where the dogs
always stop overlong, then look at me as if to say,
Explain this, please.”
Chase Twichell, The Park From Above (2012, Plume Poetry)

“And when Peace here does house
He comes with work to do, he does not come to coo,
He comes to brood and sit.”
Gerard Manley Hopkins, Peace from Poems (1918)

“It was the last conversation I ever had with her.
I told her I liked baseball, to make her happy.”
Dave McGimpsey, What Was That Poem? (2011, Walrus Magazine)

“Outside there are sirens.
Someone’s been run over.
The century grinds on.”
Margaret Atwood, Secular Night from Morning in the Burned House (1995, McClelland and Stewart)


See also:


Leaping into a #todayspoem treasure every day

What Matters Most is How Well You Walk Through the Fire, by Charles Bukowski

Two months and a bit into it, the #todayspoem inspiration is still going strong. Check the hashtag any day of the week – and at any time of the day, for that matter – and you’ll see that a core of regular contributors from around the world are starting, ending or pausing in their days to savour and contemplate a good poem, and then share it with others. There are more than 70 contributors sharing their #todayspoem selections daily or periodically – I’ve captured them in a Twitter list.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m amazed every day at what #todayspoem contributors are reading and sharing. I faithfully bookmark/favourite the #todayspoem tweets and go back at every opportunity to explore the links, videos, pictures of pages taken straight from volumes, knowing that I’m going to be dazzled, amused and moved anew. I have this lovely feeling, too, that for every person sending out a thoughtful #todayspoem tweet every day or every week, there are even more people quietly reading, enjoying and reflecting on the poems we’re sending out into the ether.

I’m still experimenting with ways of archiving and showcasing all the #todayspoem selections, with links to texts and more information about the poets, poetry collections and publishers. Once I’ve got that figured out for my own selections, I’d also love to be able to find a way to aggregate all contributions in one place, if possible. Anyhow, this month, I started gathering and “pinning” my poems on Pinterest. What do you think?

A month (and a bit) of #todayspoem delights and discoveries

a month of #todayspoem

How bunches of us bookish sorts on Twitter decided to start our day with some poetic inspiration – and share it with each other – is described here. You can always quickly tap into what we’re most recently sharing and discussing by simply checking out the #todayspoem hashtag on Twitter. You can check the hashtag and see new contributions at just about any moment of the day or night, as contributors are posting an astonishingly diverse and eclectic range of poetry selections around the clock and from around the world.

I’m amazed every day at what #todayspoem contributors share. I don’t have time to read them all on the spot, but I faithfully bookmark/favourite them in Twitter, and go back at every opportunity, knowing that I’m going to learn something new, be entertained, be moved, be surprised … and it’s all those great moments that keep the day rolling along, truth be told.

I’ve kept track of my own #todayspoem selections so far and just wanted to share them, just for fun and perhaps for enticement to more of you to follow and maybe join in. At very least, stop by, read and enjoy. If you’re tempted to pull a book of poetry off the shelf (even a virtual shelf, such as the great poetry resources online at sites such as The Scottish Poetry Library, The Academy of American Poets and the Griffin Poetry Prize, amongst others) and inspired to share what you’ve found, just add the #todayspoem tag to your tweet and a network of poetry lovers will get to enjoy it.

My #todayspoem selections so far …

December 25, 2011
Lorne Daniel (@LorneDaniel)
Dog on Ice, from Drawing Back to Take a Running Jump
Weedmark Publishing

December 26, 2011
Robert Graves
The Cottage

“Now somehow it’s come to me
To light the fire and hold the key”

December 27, 2011
Roo Borson
The Garden, from Short Journey Upriver Toward Oishida
McClelland and Stewart (@McClellandBooks)

“Eye of the lake
half-closed with ice.
Ducks at one end, sleeping.”

December 28, 2011
Charles Wright
Little Landscape, from Scar Tissue
Farrar Straus and Giroux (@FSG_Books)

“To lighten the language up, or to dark it back down
Becomes the blade edge we totter on.”

December 29, 2011
Derek Mahon
Homage to Gaia, from Life on Earth
Gallery Press (@TheGalleryPress)

“Coleridge kept an Aeolian
harp like a harmonica
lodged in an open window
to catch the slightest flicker”

December 30, 2011
Sina Queyras (@lemonhound)
Solitary, from Expressway
Coach House Books (@CoachHouseBooks)

“Cellphone at her ear. She is calling home,
Calling the past, calling out for anyone
To hear.

December 31, 2011
Erin Moure (@ErinMoure)
Aturuxo Calados, from Little Theatres
House of Anansi Press (@HouseofAnansi)

“Regard a tree.
Who would have better seized light’s longing?”

January 1, 2012
Sylvia Legris
Agitated Sky Etiology, from Nerve Squall
Coach House Books (@CoachHouseBooks)

“Clouds a flummox of fluster. Flux. Ice miasma. (Second nature
a temperate climate preceding storm.)”

January 2, 2012
Charles Bukowski
time, from what matters most is how well you walk through the fire
Ecco (@EccoBooks)

“satisfied now
I’m glad someone stole my last watch
it was so difficult to read
satisfied now
I’ve got a new one”

January 3, 2012
Kevin Connolly
Plenty, from Revolver
House of Anansi Press (@HouseofAnansi)

“The sky, lit up like a question or
an applause meter, is beautiful
like everything else today”

January 4, 2012
Margaret Atwood (@MargaretAtwood)
Miss July Grows Older, from Morning in the Burned House
McClelland and Stewart (@McClellandBooks)

“How much longer can I get away
with being so fucking cute?
Not much longer.”

January 5, 2012
Michael Crummey
Your Soul, Your Soul, Your Soul, from Hard Light
Brick Books (@BrickBooks)

“Uncle Lewis Crummey was the shortest man in Western Bay, five foot nothing and every inch of that was temper”

January 6, 2012
Lisa Robertson
Wooden Houses, from Magenta Soul Whip
Coach House Books (@CoachHouseBooks)

“And you are a rare modern painting in the grand salon
And you are a wall of earth.”

January 7, 2012
David McFadden
Strange Language, from Why Are You So Sad?
Insomniac Press (@InsomniacPress)

“Language is a breakwater causing the blind
Waves of the mind suddenly to halt
And explode.”

January 8, 2012
Chris Chambers
Canada Day 1997, from Wild Mouse
Pedlar Press

“I had a dream last night the whole country was a line
A single road with even rows of houses on each side”

January 9, 2012
Michael Ondaatje
The Story, from Handwriting
McClelland and Stewart (@McClellandBooks)

“For his first forty days a child
is given dreams of previous lives.”

January 10, 2012
Rosemary Sullivan
Sisters, from The Space a Name Makes
Black Moss Press

“I started spelling my name backwards,
retreating from the space a name makes.”

January 11, 2012
Elaine Equi
The Foreign Legion, from Ripple Effect
Coffee House Press (@Coffee_House_)

“It’s pleasant
to wake
to a camel’s nuzzling
even on the run.”

January 12, 2012
John Cooper Clarke
(I Married A) Monster from Outer Space

“We walked out – tentacle in hand
You could sense that the earthlings would not understand”

Text of (I Married A) Monster from Outer Space

January 13, 2012
Anne Carson
New Directions (@NewDirections)

“Prowling the meanings of a word, prowling the history of a person, no use expecting a flood of light.”

January 14, 2012
Dunya Mikhail (translated by Elizabeth Winslow)
Non-Military Statements, from The War Works Hard New Directions (@NewDirections)

“I drew a door
to sit behind, ready
to open the door
as soon as you arrive.”

January 15, 2012
John Steffler
The Grey Islands
Brick Books (@BrickBooks)

“and always the background pull
an aching magnet inside you:
sweet lives, sweet
bodies against you.”

January 16, 2012
Lorna Crozier
Paul, from A Saving Grace
McClelland and Stewart (@McClellandBooks)

“I walked through town
my blouse buttoned wrong
and didn’t know it
till Philip undid the buttons
did them up again

Lorna Crozier’s A Saving Grace takes the voice of Mrs Bentley from Sinclair Ross’ As For Me and My House.

January 17, 2012
David Harsent
Marriage, from Selected Poems 1969-2005
Faber and Faber (@FaberBooks)

“Come up from the salt and I’ll give you back the sun
flourish by flourish, just as it was, green into gold.”

January 18, 2012
John B. Lee
The Day I wrote My First Poem, from The Beatles Landed Laughing in New York
Black Moss Press

“I tasted the rain, it tasted of dust, wet dust.
I felt the snow freeze hot
on my face.”

January 19, 2012
John Glenday (@JohnGlenday)
Stranger, from Grain
Picador (@PicadorBooks)

“Just for today, if I were to pass myself in the street
I wouldn’t even raise my hat, or say hello.”

January 20, 2012
Valerie Rouzeau (translated by Susan Wicks)
Cold Spring in Winter
Arc Publications (@ArcPoetry)

Mirror just let me see is this my head?
But aren’t I grimacing, a new line too a bar across my forehead?

Miroir dis-moi voir c’est ma tête?
N’ai je pas une grimace, une nouvelle ligne aussi à me barrer le front ?
Valérie Rouzeau

January 21, 2012
Sina Queyras (@lemonhound)
Acceptable Dissociations, from Expressway
Coach House Books (@CoachHouseBooks)

“This poem resembles urban sprawl. This poem resembles the freedom to charge a fee. The fee occurs in the gaps.”

January 22, 2012
Dean Young
Self Search, from Primitive Mentor
University of Pittsburgh Press (@UPittPress)

“Some days
you crash about raving how ignored you are
then why the hell don’t people let you alone”

January 23, 2012
Lorne Daniel (@LorneDaniel)
East to West, from Drawing Back to Take a Running Jump
Weedmark Publishing

“We fly against the grain
wash ourselves clean
as wind and water clear”

January 24, 2012
AF Moritz
Place, from The Sentinel
House of Anansi Press (@HouseofAnansi)

“What if I’d never met my love and passed her
now on this sidewalk – would I have the power
to know her …”

January 25, 2012
Ann Scowcroft
Phantom, from The Truth of Houses
Brick Books (@BrickBooks)

“This is good-bye.
This is your first step forward.
This is your blood rattling with the new.”

January 26, 2012
Leslie Greentree (@LeslieGreentree)
if I was a gate, from go-go dancing for Elvis
Frontenac House (@FrontenacHouse)

“now I’m laughing aloud
fiercely proud of the naked apertures
racing across my kitchen
like a banner”

January 27, 2012
Kate Hall
Suspended in the Space of Reason: A Short Thesis, from The Certainty Dream
Coach House Books (@CoachHouseBooks)

“The ground is still the same
ground I paid for but the house is not in the same spot.”

Image of text of Suspended in the Space of Reason: A Short Thesis

January 28, 2012
Michael Ondaatje
Driving with Dominic in the Southern Province We See Hints of the Circus, from Handwriting
McClelland and Stewart (@McClellandBooks)

“Children in the trees,
one falling
into the grip of another”

Text of Driving with Dominic in the Southern Province We See Hints of the Circus

January 29, 2012
Charles Bukowski
beaujolais jadot, from the night torn mad with footsteps
Black Sparrow Press

“the dogs of Belgium feel bad
on certain winter afternoons
the sweep of things goes
this way and that.”

January 30, 2012
Louise Gluck
Crossroads, from A Village Life
Farrar Straus and Giroux (@FSG_Books)

“it is not the earth I will miss,
it is you I will miss.”

Text and video of Crossroads

January 31, 2012
Gwendolyn MacEwan
Invocations, from The Broken Ark a book of beasts
Oberon Press
“In this zoo are beasts which
like some truths, are far too true”

Image of text of Invocations
Image of illustration accompanying text of Invocations

#todayspoem, the solace and delight of contemplating and sharing a poem daily

Little Theatres, by Erin Moure

It all started with this thoughtful and quietly ebullient reflection from writer Alan Heathcock:

A Poem A Day: Portable, Peaceful And Perfect
datelined December 26, 2011 on the NPR web site (but published around December 24th, I think …)

One daunting, harried morning, Heathcock paused to randomly draw a book of poetry from a shelf, and to just as randomly select and read a poem. Mary Oliver’s “Egrets” momentarily took him away from not enough sleep, from kids needing to get to school, from deadlines demanding to be met … and after that brief respite …

I closed the book, transformed, bolstered from the inside out.

From that day forward, each morning I read a poem.

A bunch of us book friends on Twitter – including Harvey Freedenberg, Jeanne Duperreault and Elizabeth Bastos – starting discussing the power of randomly selected and surprisingly resonant poetry to lift one’s spirits and put a new spin on the day. From that conversation, we agreed that we could all quite happily manage the New Year’s resolution of starting our day with a poem. We’d swiftly grab it from a bookshelf or online, as suited, and we would take the time to read, savour and contemplate, like a brief morning meditation. And then we’d share our choices with each other, using the #todayspoem Twitter hashtag.

Even before January 1st, several of us jumped in enthusiastically. The selections are diverse, whimsical, touching, haunting, prescient, eye-opening. Let me share a few of the tweets that have help to draw those of us who know about it (so far) into this exquisite shared experience:

@michaelmagras This poem by Octavio Paz is one of my favorites. #todayspoem

@Perednia From Tomas Transtromer’s Prelude: “Waking up is a parachute jump from dreams.” #todayspoem

@HarvF Ellen Bass, “Gate C22.” Very appropriate for this season of travel: #todayspoem

@bookgaga “Regard a tree. / Who would have better seized light’s longing?” @ErinMoure from Aturuxo Calados, Little Theatres #todayspoem

I think I’m especially in love with this tweet, because it shares an image of the poem on the page:

@Materfam #todayspoem Le Train de Midi, Stephanie Bolster

As you can see, everyone is sharing their #todayspoem experience a little differently, with an image, a link, an excerpt, whatever fits in a tweet. Each tweet is enough to spur a moment of delight or recognition or, handily favorited in Twitter, is a lovely bookmark for future poetry explorations.

The #todayspoem experience is a dual delight. You treat yourself to an energizing moment of reflection in the morning, and then you have others’ shared #todayspoem gifts to enjoy just by going to the hashtag at any time. Care to join us?

See also: