Monday, February 23, 2015

Ode to Former Poet Laureate Philip Levine

I run a regular feature in my SharingwithWriters newsletter on poetry. Poetry is one of my great literary loves so,  though the letter consists mostly of practical marketing ideas and help with craft and editing, the poetry corner--I think--broadens its appeal. The poetry feature can include anything from snippets of holiday poetry, to craft, to poetry marketing ideas to what is happening in the poetry world. What is happening in the poetry world this week is the death of former poet laureate for the US Philip Levine. 

In his honor, I'm publishing the SharingwithWriters poetry corner early. The rest of the letter will be available at http://howtodoitfrugally.com/newsletter_copies.htm after March 15.


Very Brief Ode to Philip Levine:
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It is rare that a poet can trace her poetry path to some specific poet, but I can. My path—a near-journalistic style of poetry—traces through my mentor Suzanne Lummis directly to the Fresno (Calif.) school of poetry more easily identified as the Philip Levine school of poetry (though he taught at ivy league schools including Columbia, Princeton, and Vassar). At one point he said in an interview that his Fresno students were the best he ever taught.

Many define his Fresno school as poetry with a certain grittiness, poetry written so each thought is complete; that is, when read, any given line can be followed easily as a sentence of prose if the reader doesn’t pause at the line breaks.
 
Even an excerpt like this that doesn't include the full thought can be easily understood:

. . . to baptize ourselves in the brine
. . . of car parts, dead fish, stolen bicycles
melted snow .
. .

I prefer to qualify that definition as being poetry of personal truthfulness no matter how painful or unattractive that truth may be.
 
Philip was 87 and according to the Associated Press died of pancreatic cancer.

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Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the inPlace; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and how to books for writers including the award-winning second edition of, The Frugal Book Promoter: How to get nearly free publicity on your own or by partnering with your publisher; The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success; and Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers . The Great First Impression Book Proposal is her newest booklet for writers. She has three FRUGAL books for retailers including A Retailenr’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. Some of her other blogs are TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor .

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