The Top 9 Posts of 2019


As we close not only a year but a decade, you might not be wondering what the nine (aren’t you sick of 10 already?) most read posts were on this blog called “Updates on a Free-Verse Life,” to which I can only say, “Mindfulness, buddy! Let’s Zen up and pay attention!” (Translation: “Wonder no more!”)

So, without further ado, let’s amuse you as much as I just amused myself by seeing what posts drew the most lightning this past year. It’s a curious mix but, if nothing else, we are a curious lot. That’s one of the good parts about humans. And one of the few good parts about cats! (Sorry, cat lovers. My dog put me up to that joke.)

Here’s the order, from ninth most read to most read:

  • #9: Teaching an Imitation Poem with The Delight Song of Tsoai-Talee All credit to the teachers of the world, who probably helped to propel this into the Top 9 because it’s a great introductory poetry-writing lesson that uses imitation to show kids that they are (wait for it!) imagery and metaphor machines (only they didn’t know it).
  • #8: “Apollo and Marsyas” Zbigniew Herbert Redux  I read a BIG collected works of Zbigniew Herbert, a poet you should know from Poland, and included a translation of one of his famous poems in this post. This cracked the Top 9 by dint of search engines looking for English translations of his Greek myth-based poem, “Apollo and Marsyas.”
  • #7: Poems That End with a Question  I like questions more than answers, maybe because the world is so full of loudmouths with answers. This post riffs on why I like questions, yes, but more importantly it includes the lovely poem “The Inheritance” by Stephen Dunn. This blurb ends with a question, too: Have you read it?
  • #6: Waxing Poetic About Teachers  I’m not sure if this was driven up on the charts by teachers themselves (ha-ha) or by students. Whatever, the post includes three poems about teachers, the best damn difficult job you can get on the planet. Hint: If you must teach, do it in Finland. I hear they treat their educators like true professionals there. Huzzah!
  • #5: Opposition in the Poetry Classroom  Another teaching-based (but can be any ole poetry writer-based) post, this post examines poet/teacher Brendan Constantine’s idea, “The Opposites Game,” wherein creative sorts (students or writers) try to find synonyms for abstract words that resist synonyms. Discuss!
  • #4: Ada Limón’s Stretch Drive  I’ve read a couple of Ada Limón books, and this post features four poems that struck me as wonderful. Keep writing, Ada! You obviously have more fans than just me. Thus the #4 position here!
  • #3: The Pronoun “I” and Poetry  If you’ve followed any of my posts, you know I chafe at the idea of RULES in poetry: that is, things thou shalt do and things thou shalt not do. Whether you’re following rules or breaking them, you just have to do it well. This post discusses some poetry pooh-bah’s insistence that using the pronoun “I” is lame in poetry writing. In it, the pronoun “I” no sooner finishes a marathon then it begins doing 100 push-ups. Sic semper silly rules!
  • #2: How To Review a Poetry Collection Is there any one way to review a poetry collection? There is not. But this is one way, or at least a way to get you started. I do know it is more difficult than reviewing a novel or nonfiction book, so there’s that. I’m not sure what drove this to the runner-up position. Students? Reviewers? Teachers offering students helpful links? Thanks to all of them, wherever they may have originated from.
  • #1 Most Read Post of 2019: Funeral for a Poem  I have always enjoyed Greek poet C. P. Cavafy’s poem, “Ithaka,” but I only learned about it because it was read at Jackie Kennedy Onassis’s funeral. Apparently my voyage to discovering this poem is being replicated every day by many searchers on the Internet, who searched for this “it’s all in the voyage, not the destination” gem through words related to Jackie or her funeral or Cavafy himself. Whenever I’m feeling down, I simply reread this poem and boom. All better! It is based on The Odyssey and Ulysses’ long trip home–a trip so long that it becomes the story. We all know where our home will ultimately be, so it bears repeating here: Let’s focus on the journey and make it a good one.

Speaking of “good ones,” may 2020 be a safe, happy, and healthy one for all of you loyal fans who read this page now and again. I appreciate your visits!