Poem of the Week: Antigonish

Let's get into the Halloween spirit!

For this week's poem, let's start getting into the Halloween spirit with the poem "Antigonish [I met a man who wasn't there]," by Hughes Mearns! I don't know about you, but my favorite kind of scare isn't the in-your-face scare, or the gory scare. It's the kind that creeps up on you, the kind that tells you more without saying anything at all, and that's the realm in which "Antigonish [I met a man who wasn't there]" resides.

The poem is a nice little ghost story that is perfect for setting the stage for Halloween. Would it surprise you to know that Hughes Mearns wrote it in 1899? It's still so fresh and feels as if it could have been written this week.

What Halloween poems set the mood for you? Share them in the chat! 

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The Sealy Challenge

Have you ever taken part?

Named after poet and teacher Nicole Sealey, The Sealey Challenge is a call to really expand your mind and your breadth of reading material with a simple yet possibly big task: reading a book of poetry every day during the month of August. The challenge is to read a completely different, full book daily, not just a single book throughout the entire month! This may be an enormous challenge for many but certainly a rewarding experience for any!

While August is over, the Sealey Challenge could be done just about any month as long as the reader has time--and the reader could even make it more challenging by using themes each month. The perfect opportunity for spooky collections of poetry is upon us! Aside from that, it's also a good time to create a list of collections to read through next August, if that is the goal.

Have you ever completed the Sealey Challenge? What collections did you enjoy the most? What did you learn? Share your insights and tips in the chat.


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Lifetime Achievement Award Earned By Patricia Smith

The award is $100,000

The Poetry Foundation just awarded its Lifetime Achievement Award to poet Patricia Smith. Also known as the Lilly Poetry Prize, it's awarded to extraordinary poets for accomplishments made throughout their lifetimes. Smith is known for her poems like "Blood Dazzler" and "Incendiary Art." The award for the Lilly Poetry Prize is $100,000.

Other awards were also chosen, including the Pegasus Award and five poetry fellows. Each will receive their own monetary awards as well.

Have you heard of any other accomplished poets in your area lately? Share their work in the chat. 


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New Poetry Contests

Share the ones you've found in the chat

Poetry contests are a great way to earn recognition for your work, as well as earn a bit of money. Throughout the year there are lots of contests available just for practice and showing off (think contests over at All Poetry), but there are also lots of regular contests for earning some prize awards, too.

The Tom Howard/Margaret Reid Poetry Contest is a great example. The top awards are each $3,000 and there are lots of smaller awards as well. Like many poetry contests, there is an entry fee, but that's a great way to ensure prize money is collected for the next contest. The contest is due September 30 so entries need to be submitted soon!

What other poetry contests are happening this time of year? Share them in the chat.

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Bring Back Processing Poetry

We all could use it right now

This past year and a half has been difficult on almost everyone, and many believe we are at the brink of a mental health crisis. My teen and I were just having a discussion about processing feelings and the things people do--from staying busy to listening to music or talking about emotions with friends. We decided that keeping busy can be helpful, especially if you're feeling stuck, but that it's also important to sit with feelings, feel them and process in a meaningful way.

For teen me, that way was usually poetry. I wrote to process everything from the deaths of loved ones to breakups with friends, assault to love to anger and so much more. It really helped me understand things in a way that talking just didn't, and I suspect that's why today I have trouble. I don't write poetry like I used to and my body and mind could really benefit from some poetry writing.

How about you? Does writing poetry to process feelings help you? Does it help your students or kids? Share your thoughts in the chat.

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This Week's Poetry News

What's happening near you?

There's a lot of poetry news going on this week. The saddest piece of news is that Jack Hirschman, the social justice poet known for his Marxist views and dozens of volumes of poetry, passed away at age 87. The UCLA professor, who was fired for his anti-war views, will forever be remembered by poets and activists. 

Julia Alvarez and Emily Cooper have both shared some personal collections that look really interesting. They also both look quite different from each other and I can't wait to check them out.

What's happening in poetry where you live, or what poetry news have you read lately? Share it and any poetry you're reading or writing yourself in the chat.


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Poems About September

Share yours in the chat.

September is nearly upon us and it's time for all of that back to school, autumn spice, falling leaves, sweater weather goodness! Where I live, it's not likely to become sweater weather until mid-month or later, but it remains one of my favorite times of the year. This year will still look different for most of us because of the pandemic, but there are still lots of things to love about the season--including fall poetry.

William Wordsworth's "September, 1819" is a classic that many people like to read at this time of year. Yeat's "September, 1913" is another. Everyone loves Robert Frost's "Nothing Gold Can Stay," and Shakespeare's "Sonnet 73" is a good autumn one. These are all classics, but I'd love to learn more modern ones if anyone has a favorite.

One of my favorite quotes about autumn in general is by George Eliot. I love it so much I share it on social media every first day of fall. What is your favorite poem or quote about September or fall in general? Share it in the chat.

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August-Themed Poems

Share your favorites!

August is here in full swing, complete with heat, summer lightning, and fresh peaches. Poems that celebrate August and late summer in general are aplenty, but which ones really encompass that lazy, late summer feeling?

Would you classify Edwin Arlington Robinson's "Late Summer" as one of those? Maybe, but it wouldn't be a very positive view of the season. That's okay--some of us absolutely hate this season and might find something more morose or bleak more appropriate for these dog days. Maybe something by Carl Sandburg would be more fitting for some people...

What poem really epitomizes this season for you? Share it in the chat.

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This Week in Poetry News

Share yours in the chat!

There have been several interesting stories in poetry news this week:

Australian Poetry Month has just begun and poet Grace Tame began the festivities by reading her poem, "The Unscathed are Most Scathing." Other events include workshops, more poetry readings and poetry commissions. 

A $750,000 Mellon grant has been awarded to the African Poetry Digital Portal to help expand both scholarship and research in African poetry. The grant is for three years and will help the portal make digital hubs that universities may access to study African poetry.

Maggie Smith has a new collection of poetry available called Goldenrod

What other poetry news have you read? Is there anything happening where you live? Share it in the chat. 

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Creating Fun Poetry Themes

Share what you've loved in the chat!

My teen and I are setting up our annual learning goals and last night we discussed what types of literature we'd like to do. We are thinking of doing a poetry unit for the second semester and got a little lost in a theme discussion. There really are too many themes to just pick one so we are even thinking of doing a different theme each month.

A natural progression might include types of poems--cinquains, sonnets and so forth--but we think themes might be even more fun. We'd still discuss all of these types of poems but we would fit them around themes like equity and social justice, feminism, horror, Black poets, and so on. We read a few poetry books under most of these themes in the past year or so and we think they'd make for great full units.

What poetry themes have worked well for you in the past? Share your favorites in the chat.

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