The Poetry Assessor: How Does your Poetry Measure up to the Great Contemporaries?

The Poetry Assessor: How Does your Poetry Measure up to the Great Contemporaries?


If you’ve ever wanted your poetry critiqued by an algorithm-using robot, now’s your chance!  This nifty little tool allows you to enter your poem in the specified box (where, I imagine, marbles roll through zig-zag plastic tunnels and a penny is flattened and imprinted with Margaret Atwood’s face) then it rates your poem on a numbered scale – negative numbers being more on the “amateur” side of things, and positive numbers on the “professional” side.  The application was created using contemporary English poetry and language as a reference point.  The website offers more details as to how the tool functions.

Come on, you know you want to try it out…


Prompt: Self Portrait

Prompt: Self Portrait

Artist Frida Kahlo focused much of her art on the self portrait. As Kahlo herself said, “I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best.” Her self portraits were often out of the ordinary – Kahlo herself was always an eclectic representation of femininity. But, for example, one of her more famous portraits, “The Little Deer” is of her head painted on the body of a deer riddled with arrows.

So, here is your prompt: write a poem that portrays the self. YOUR self. Borrow from Frida and make your self portrait out of the ordinary, surreal, beautiful, weird. Put flowers in your hair, or paste your head onto the body of an animal. Please share your results!


“Read Poetry” – Bookmarks

My position – when I’m not on here blogging, or cuddling with my husband – is that of an assistant librarian at a high school. For the most part, I recommend books to children and they stare at me blankly. And of course, I put books back on the shelf, help the English teachers get their class sets sorted out, and try to promote reading in various ways. During the month of April (National Poetry Month! Duh…) I helped the kids at the high school celebrate poem in your pocket day by hiding poems around the school, and giving the students prizes when they came and read a poem to me.

One of the prizes were these bookmarks that I’ve given you a template for! Simply print them out, cut them along the proper lines, cover them in book tape (carefully, I might add), trim the book tape, and voila! You’ve got yourself some perfectly good poetry to look at every time you crack open your book.

Feel free to use these for personal purposes, as gifts, or if you’d like to promote the love of poetry next April.

Sandra Cisneros: Bay Poem from Berkeley


After our Shameless W.A. poetry meeting last night, Shanalee told me to visit our local used bookstore as quickly as possible, as there were 3 copies of Sandra Cisneros‘s book Loose Woman waiting to be whisked away.  After 5 well spent dollars, I started reading the book while my husband dozed in bed next to me.  Only halfway through, I already have a few favorite poems!  Sandra’s poetry is spicy and sweet, sexy and aggressive.  This is one of her more tame poems that really pulled at me:

Bay Poem From Berkeley
By Sandra Cisneros

Mornings I still
reach for you before
opening my eyes.

An antique habit from
last summer when we pulled
each other into the heat of groin
and belly, slept with an arm
around the other.

The Texas sun was like that.
Like a body asleep beside you.

But when I open my eyes
to the flannel and down,
mist at the window and blue
light from the bay, I remember
where I am.

This weight
on the other side of the bed
is only books, not you.  What
I said I loved more than you.

Though these mornings
I wish books loved back.

Bat for Lashes – Daniel

Studying poetry has made me more picky about the musical artists that I truly appreciate. Frankly, it’s difficult to use end rhyme these days without sounding cheesy or falling into clichéd language. Natasha Khan of Bat for Lashes is a multitalented woman, who writes and composes all of her music – typically on her own, although sometimes collaboratively. You’ll notice her artistic talent also leaks into her weird and surreal music videos as well. She does a phenomenal job of writing her songs in a poetic manner – utilizing lyricism and assonance in place of more conspicuous rhyme. This is one of my favorite songs from her sophomore album “Two Suns.”

Daniel, when I first saw you
I knew that you had a flame in your heart
And under wild blue skies
Marble movie skies
I found a home in your eyes
We’ll never be apart

And when the fires came
The smell of cinders and rain
Perfumed almost everything
We laughed and laughed and laughed

And in the golden blue
Crying took me to
The darkest place you knew
And set fire to my heart

When I run in the dark, Daniel
To a place that’s vast, Daniel
Under a sheet of rain in my heart, Daniel
I dream of home

But in a goodbye bed
With my arms around your neck
Into our mouths the tears crept
Just kids in the eye of the storm

And as my house spun round
My dreams pulled me from the ground
Forever to search for the flame
For home again
For home again

When I run in the dark, Daniel
Into a place that’s vast, Daniel
Under a sheet of rain in my heart, Daniel
I dream of home

When I run in the dark, Daniel
Into a place that’s vast, Daniel
Under a sheet of rain in my heart, Daniel
I dream of home

Do you have any favorite artists who you think push past the boundaries of typical songwriting? What music inspires you?


The Four Season…

The Four Seasons

Eight stars make
A soft solfege

Above this motel
Where there are never

I let a skinny man

Put his long thick dick in me for you
So we could break our hearts

The way you want me to. Somewhere a white
Wall stretches up behind the backs of a tribe

Whose obscurity protects its secret from the common
World and the connivances it ordains.

What time is it. What season is it.
I don’t know.

The moon blows green
Gas into my skull

I want to hide what I dream
In a big boot, and wear the boot

And starve as I lean upon the boot of my destitution
And drag

The truth as a gimp would drag the weight of her body.
That would give me a feeling of honesty.

In recent Shameless Word-Artist meetings, we’ve been discussing the alignment of our poetry “beliefs”: what it is that our group stands for, and is interested in poetically.  We’ve come to the conclusion that feminism is a subject we all feel strongly about.  Some of us have written poems about feminism in a political manner, and some from a personal stance, or on the social level (these things ultimately cross paths at some point).

I’ve been fawning over the female poet, Ariana Reines.  Ariana recently published a chapbook with Spork Press called Thursday.  She has also been published in my FAVORITE ANTHOLOGY EVER, Gurlesque.  Her avant-garde, aggressively feminine way of writing poetry fascinates me.  She is unafraid of being grotesque, blunt – truly shameless about what she writes.  She’s definitely one of my poet role-models.  

The poem Four Seasons was linked from her poems on the Poetry Foundation website.  If you’d like to read more from Ariana Reines, you can search there, or support an amazing artist and buy one of her books!

What are your thoughts and opinions on Ariana’s poetry?