Some Short Poems That I Have Loved

I want to share some of the short poems that have inspired me, and helped me think about what can be accomplished in just a few lines of well-chosen text. For example, here’s an untitled modern haiku by Michael Ketchek:

I whisper to my sleeping son
watching the news—
I’m sorry

And here’s one from my college poetry professor, Ken Mikolowski:

Why I Am Not A New York Poet


I also really love this one, from Yoko Ono’s book Grapefruit: A Book of Instructions and Drawings.

I’ve read and loved these little gems for years and continue to learn about how small things can open into such big spaces. This personal study has certainly influenced the direction of my writing in fairly radical ways, and if you’re trying to figure out how to say more with less, or if you’re pondering the role of silence in poem; if you’re interested in suggestion as much as what’s made explicit, I encourage you to spend more time with short poems. Here’s one by Jim Moore that has been on my mind this year:

These examples are just a fraction of what we’ll read and talk about during my upcoming Poetry Intensive on Short Poems at Interlochen College of Creative Arts, October 16-17. You can participate in this generative workshop for adults as a commuter, or make it into a retreat and stay on campus, where you can focus on your writing during one of the most beautiful times of year in northern Michigan.

Here’s a two line poem from a recent limited edition chapbook by Jeffrey Schwaner, printed and bound by St. Brigit’s Press:

If this is something that interests you, I’d encourage you to register as soon as possible—it really helps me to plan my travel confidently.

Last year this course filled up and the evaluations focused on how inspiring it was to learn how to write with such brevity. Many also remarked on how the diverse readings opened them to possibilities in their own work not previously considered.

For my part, I really loved sharing my personal anthology of poems of fourteen lines or less, and as a collective, exploring strategies for writing in this mode. We also talked about finding “the poem inside the poem”, which is a great way to rescue a sprawling or failed poem, and making it into something small and beautiful.

Poetry Writing Intensive: Short Poems
October 16-17, 2017
Interlochen, Michigan

In addition to craft lectures, generative exercises, structured writing time, and supportive feedback, you’ll have access to evening concerts, art galleries, an exceptional library, and the conviviality of other writers. Please join us!

My Best,


I found this last poem in a hand-set letterpress chapbook by Anne Waldman entitled Countries, in the collection of the Bonisteel Library on the Interlochen campus.

P.S. Did you know that K-12 Educators can earn 7 State of Michigan SCECH clock hours by attending this workshop? Tell your friends!

poetry matters. join the conversation.

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poetry matters. join the conversation.

join my community