The Soul of Poetry/ The Poetry of Soul

The Soul of Poetry/ The Poetry of SoulThe Lafayette Public Library and the Lafayette Cultural Arts Commission  are hosting a free celebration of poetry for National Poetry Month on Wednesday, April 25 from 7:00PM to 8:30PM.  If you live in the area, please join us for a celebration of poetry from the works of famous and not-so-famous poets from around the world to local poets reading their own works.



Poetry Reading Friday, April 13

This Friday, April 13, I’ll be sharing the stage with nationally renowned poet Jared Smith at Hearthfire Books in Evergreen, CO the reading starts at 7PM and includes an open mic. If you live in the Denver area, come on up to the mountains for a night of fine poetry.


The Role of Poetry in Society

A poet friend, Stewart Warren, has asked for comments on The Role of Poetry in Society — Are poets guardians of truth and beauty, bell ringers of emerging consciousness, activists insisting on higher ideals, or children offering flowers to passersby? 

I have found an old essay by Kenneth Rexroth very helpful to me in answering this question from his book Bird in the Bush.  “[Poetry] widens and deepens and sharpens the sensibility and overcomes that dullness to significant experience that the Jesuits used to call ‘invincible ignorance’.  People are by and large routinized in their lives.  A great many of our responses to experience are necessarily dulled.  If to a certain extent they weren’t we’d all suffer from nervous breakdowns and die of high blood pressure at the age of twenty.  The organism has to protect itself.  It cannot be completely raw…. Poetry increases and guides our awareness to immediate experience and to the generalizations that can be made from immediate experience…Unorganized sensibility is simply irritability…The arts build in us scales and heirarchies of response.”  

I, too, believe, that poetry is filtered and guided and heightened experience.  Our role as poets is to communicate as immediately and intimately as possible from one person to another.  The role of poetry is not to persuade (although poetry that flows directly from the heart may well do that).  That is the role of rhetoric.  There is nothing wrong with rhetoric.  Rhetoric can be powerful and moving.  A great speech is a marvelous thing.  But the role of poetry is first of all  intimacy.  It requires the courage to journey into the unknown.


New Book Is Out

Hello friends. I’m back after three weeks in the hospital for cancer treatment and recovering well. I have a new book that has just come out. If You Can Still Dance With It is a small collection from Turkey Buzzard Press. You can view the cover under my Publications tab, and I will post a couple of poems from it here.After the Ashes


Is there a role for ecstacy and naivete in poetry?

So much modern poetry is characterized by detachment and irony.  It’s as if a poet who displays ecstacy in his or her poetry is too simple or naive to be taken seriously.  This seems especially true in acandemic poetry, which appears locked into a post-modern T.S. Elliot style of beauty twisted in cruelty (April is the cruelest month, breeding/lilacs out of the dead land…) Technically brilliant, without a doubt, and yet in a way dead.

So I will expose myself to the charge of naivete by declaring myself, at least occasionally, a poet of ecstacy.

Stone Chips


There’s the sun coming up underneath

a deck of clouds, roaring out ofKansas,

painting the peaks of the Front Range red


On this December morning as  I drive

to work, tired and worried about money,

pissed off at everything, tired of telling myself

this job matters, knowing

I’ll never find anything better.


And then, there’s that sun,

coming up under the clouds, slapping me

upside the head and right out

of my funk.


Brothers and sisters, don’t lose faith!


The sun still comes up every morning and now,

on the shortest day of the year, it’s shining across the land,

making a kaleidoscope of the stone chips in the windshield.


The wind kicks up a devil of dust and leaves,

and the leaves and dust climb the spiral of wind towards

a flight of geese, as the sun breaks free

of the horizon and sets the clouds afire

and the underwings of the geese beat

silver and black, silver and black,

climbing into the dawn.



Bonapartes Retreat and Liberty

Bonapartes Retreat_Liberty

Playing music is important to my poetry in several ways.  Most simply but maybe most profoundly, it relaxes my mind and spirit and sometimes opens a creative void that a poem or fragment might flow into.

The attention to rythmn, meter, and melodic progresssion inform my poetry at a deep level such taht even if I’m not consciously tinking of them in relation to a poem they are there, gently nudging me one way or another.

Thirdly, the discipline of music, of practice, practice, and more practice has instilled in me the habit of working poems as I work a piece of music, sometimes obsessing over a single word until I get it right.

What about you?  Even if you don’t play and instrument, does music inform your writing? If so, how?



Reading Leads to Writing

Still playing with this theme of inspiration, I find the more I read poetry the more I write. If I’m not reading poetry I may be able to edit and work on poems, but have great difficulty writing anything new. Sometimes a particular poem or line from a poem will be the springboard for a new poem. Maybe I’m just a plagarist at heart. What about you? Do you find some of your work springing from a specific poem or poet you’re reading?

Reflection: For Neruda

Late at night, rain streaks the window,
wet streets glisten in the headlights of passing cars.

The house is silent except for your breathing.

You’ve been reading Neruda and are filled
with the ocean and the drowned, uplifting arm,
the wind trading blows with the rain.

The darkness is palpable and boundless,
a companion offering the gift of solitude
and the certainty of loss.

Dear reader, stop wherever you are, whatever
you are doing and imagine
a cold night, late autumn —
You are sleepless, alone
in a quiet house with soft rain falling.
You gaze out the window into centuries
of night and storm.

Maybe the voice of someone lost to you years ago
whispers at your side,
maybe, within your chest, a flight of loons,
the beating of your own dead father’s heart.


Poem and Discussion

I will use this blog to post new poems and to invite discussion of particular topics.  We’ll see if that flies or not.  No harm in trying I guess.  If you want to respond, please do, otherwise this is going to get mighty lonely. I’ll also post old poems by others that are no longer under copyright.  To kick this off, I was intitially tempted to go right for a really big topic ( I won’t tell you yet what it is) but I thought I better start with something a little easier to get things rolling.  Maybe not a whole lot less, but here it is. 

How important is inspiration, the muse, duende in writing?  How important is it to just sit down and write, whether you feel inspired or not?  What do you do?

The Ones Who Get the World Ready

 2AM.  A light wind stirs the dry
leaves of the ash outside your window.
Soon, the cold November rains will come and strip
the branches bare.  A blank pad of paper sits on the desk and you twirl
a pen in your right hand – thumb, index, middle.            
Thumb, index, middle.  Over and over.
You hear the stair risers creak and the dog
comes in, settles at your side.
You stare at the window and your own face
stares back, with nothing to say.
Don’t think this is a poem about searching
for inspiration.  It’s just man who can’t sleep
and doesn’t want to bother his wife
with his restlessness.  He thinks he’s a poet so instead
of boiling a chicken and chopping vegetables,
or cleaning the garage, he pretends to write.
In the distance he hears the low thrum of diesels, the long
whistle as a Burlington Northern & Santa Fe freight
crosses Pine St., the diesel sound slowly fading until
there is only, again, the rustling of dry leaves. This is the hour
when the world comes unmoored from its foundations and begins to drift.
Here and there throughout the town a few
men and woman wake, the ones who make the world
solid and familiar for the rest of us.  Trash haulers and policemen,
paper carriers, nurses, truck drivers, bakers. Resolute, even brave,
with a dogged, determinedly unreflective bravery, they grope
with blind hands in the dark, clutching at the anchors
that will secure us all for one more day to our common lives.

Michael Adams copyright 2012



Welcome to my website

Good afternoon to all you poets, friends, and others out there.  I’m just getting this website going and experimenting with this blog.  Once I get a good feel for how this works I’ll post new work here, audio, and discussion topics, all open to comment.  For now this is just to say hello. Please feel free to comment on the site.