By Stephen Jay Schwartz


dropped arbitrarily on a page

as if shaken

from a container


A word or two

or three

strung together

forms an image


expresses an emotion


blocks of letters

and white space



calms me


I’m not a student of poetry but I know what I like. Some great poems and some great poets have influenced me greatly. My favorite poem is “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” by T.S. Eliot. It was read to me aloud when I was seventeen, by a girlfriend’s father, at dinner, with wine and jazz on the stereo. The setting could not have been better. It affected me then and has affected since. The words evoke a nurturing melancholy that I choose to indulge. The poem touches me on a spiritual and physical level. It’s difficult to explain, but I guess that’s poetry.

Another poem which caught me early was “The Road Not Taken,” by Robert Frost. His simple words have provided a guiding hand for the big decisions I’ve made in my life. I’m also in love with playful poets, such as ee cummings and Ogden Nash. And Dr. Seuss.

I fall for the authors whose novels are poetic. James Joyce, Jack Kerouac, John Updike. Katherine Anne Porter. Jhumpa Lahiri. There are so, so many. I’m always amazed when I find poetry in unexpected places. For instance, I’m reading Marya Hornbacher’s memoir of anorexia and bulimia, called “Wasted,” and I’ve been captured by the stunning, lyrical quality of her poetic prose.

I’m also taken by the gritty poetry of Charles Bukowski. I like writing that is accessible. I like to experience the reflections of writers dealing with painful, often tragic issues. I like honesty in writing and I search it out in the poetry I read. Bukowski gives me that. He always makes me think, and he grounds me.

I suppose I strive to achieve a sense of poetry in my writing. I had an English teacher once who told me that everything I write should be original, that I shouldn’t depend on the creativity of others to form my thoughts. He was talking about my use of cliches, which he succeeded in eradicating from my work. But I took it one step further and applied it to the sentences I write. The last draft or two I do when writing a novel is dedicated entirely to finding ways to rewrite every sentence. I search for poetic, often obscure ways to reinvent the paragraph. It’s exhausting, but it’s my favorite part of the process.

Although I love poetic prose, I don’t consider myself a poet. I really haven’t put in the hard work to learn what I feel I should know about poetry. I don’t know any of the classic meters, I don’t recognize any of the literary references. I’m sure that Pound and Whitman and Yeats have amazing things to say, but I tell ya, I don’t understand the half of it. Someday I hope to enrich my life with a college class or two on the subject.

You can imagine how honored I was when Gerald So asked me to contribute some poetry to his fourth issue of the crime poetry magazine, THE LINEUP. I’m especially honored because the other authors I’ve joined are so renowned—Reed Farrel Coleman, David Corbett, Ken Bruen, Keith Rawson and numerous other authors whose works I’ve just been introduced to.

The work of these authors does what I had hoped—it takes me to a place of enraptured contemplation. Their poems examine the dark side of life, the moral ambiguity that drives people to commit crimes, the consequences that criminal behavior has on its victims. Bukowski-esque. Poetry about crime—what a great concept. The collection brings new insight to the phrase, “poetic justice.”

I hope you’ll check the book out. Copies can be purchased by clicking here, where you can also hear a free sampler of the poems being read. You can hear me read my contribution, called “Street Girls: Selected Memories.” You can imagine where that will take you…

Meanwhile, Gerald’s offer to participate has prompted me to dig out the poetry of my past. I wrote a lot after my father’s suicide, and while dealing with decaying relationships, and while searching for a place in this world. The stuff everyone writes about. And I’ve purchased a few more books of Bukowski’s work, just to keep the rhythm going in my head. Maybe Gerald has set me on a new course. If so, I’m indebted to him for getting me started.

Who do you feel are the “essential” poets to read? Who are your favorites? How does poetry affect you differently from prose? What do you think I should do to become a more learned student of poetry?

53 thoughts on “THE LINEUP

  1. Alafair Burke

    I'm not well versed (pun intended) but I was happy to hear you mention some women! I love Maya Angelou, and though we probably are more familiar here with Maggie Estep's crime fiction she is a very talented poet.

  2. toni

    I think Murderati's own Ken Bruen fits that bill, as do both Louise and Cornelia. Poetic, beautiful, all.

    I love this piece, Stephen. I love finding poetry in unexpected places, finding imagery that floors me, gives me that <i>yes!</i> moment of recognition. It's what I've been reaching for in the new WIP, and to do so, I've turned to poets for inspiration many times along the path of this book.

    The ones you mentioned are high on my list as well. I'm not sure about favorites–I have too many… but I'd also include a lot of lyricists like Paul Simon in the group.

  3. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    Alafair – thanks for the tip on Maggie Estep. I'll have to check her out.

    Toni – I agree with you about Louise and Cornelia – such strong, visual, poetic writers. And how could I forget about lyricists – matching music with verse. Paul Simon is a favorite. And there's Jim Morrison, of course. And Stephen Sondheim.

  4. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    Alafair – another favorite female author/poet of mine is Amy Hempel.

    Toni – yes, you mentioned Ken Bruen, too – definitely.

  5. Louise Ure

    Lovely words here from you and Toni, Stephen. I've never enjoyed poetry, but every time someone suggests that we "take out everything that sounds like writing" I still leave the poetic images in.

  6. Alexandra Sokoloff

    Prufrock and Frost. Now there's a surprise. 😉

    I especially like Frost's Two Tramps in Mudtime:

    But yield who will to their separation
    My object in living is to unite
    My avocation and vocation
    As my two eyes make one in sight.
    Only where love and need are one,
    And the work is play for mortal stakes,
    Is the deed ever really done
    For Heaven and the future's sakes.

    Before I was a professional writer and was feeling unencouraged I would just remember those lines and power on.

    Favorite poet, though, has got to be Shakespeare, who is in my head all the time. Ken Bruen is a good living second.

  7. Gerald So

    Great post, Stephen. Thanks again. I'll go on record here: We'd love to consider poetry by Cornelia, Louise, Toni, Pari, Alex… 🙂 Submissions are open for Issue 5.

    I'll shy away from calling anyone essential and just give you some recommendations: Edward Hirsch, Philip Levine, Donald Justice, Sharon Olds. And I second Alafair's rec of Maggie Estep.

  8. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    Louise – I think the trick for you is to keep doing whatever it is you're doing. I'm curious, though – aren't there any poems that have stuck with you through the years?

    Toni – I keep coming back to you – can't forget The Beatles for their lyrics.

    Alex – Thank you for that poem by Frost. It's beautiful. I've never read it before. It's a great touchstone.

    Gerald – Thank you for the recommendations. I hope you get some Murderati submissions for Number 5. I've certainly enjoyed the process.

  9. J.D. Rhoades

    Love Eliot, but I really love Yeats, especially "The Second Coming."

    Pretty much every line speaks to me, but "Things fall apart, the center cannot hold" pretty much sums up my take on life, especially lately.

  10. Phillip Thomas Duck

    My first reading experiences were Langston Hughes:

    First in the heart is the dream-
    Then the mind starts seeking a way.
    His eyes look out on the world,
    On the great wooded world,
    On the rich soil of the world,
    On the rivers of the world.

    But then I quickly moved to novels, crime fiction in particular, and never looked back. That said, I can truly appreciate the "heart" of poetry. I love the idea of this anthology of crime poems. And yes, Ken Bruen is a definite must.

  11. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    JD – so that's where "the center cannot hold" comes from. I read a memoir about a woman with schizophrenia with that title. I'll check it out.

    Philip – yes, Langston Hughes – I did read some of his work in college and it spoke to me. I like the poem you included. It gets me going. I think I need it today.

  12. CarlC

    One can't read James Lee Burke without thinking of his books being about poetry as much as about crime and the dark side of people. No mystery writer that I have read paints such visible pictures in words.

  13. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    Thanks, CarlC – I picked up some Burke recently and I hope to get into it sooner than later. Others have said the same about his work.

  14. David Corbett


    Thanks for the kind words. The check's in the mail.

    JD is right — give Yeats a shot. He's my favorite among the "old school." (I quoted his "The Fiddler of Dooney" in one of my responses to Louise & Ken's post a week or two ago. It's one of his more accessible ones, but still packs a wallop.)

    Women poets: don't overlook Anna Akhmatova and, of course, Emily D. Among our contemporaries, check out Kim Addonizio and Dorianne Laux.

    Here's a poem of Kim's, who wrote one of only three books I've ever read in a single sitting (the other two: James M. Cain's DOUBLE INDEMNITY and Desmond Lowden's BELLMAN & TRUE):

    Look at you, sitting there being good.
    After two years you’re still dying for a cigarette.
    And not drinking on weekdays, who thought that one up?
    Don’t you want to run to the corner right now
    for a fifth of vodka and have it with cranberry juice
    and a nice lemon slice, wouldn’t the backyard
    that you’re so sick of staring into
    look better then, the tidy yard your landlord tends
    day and night—the fence with its fresh coat of paint,
    the ash-free barbecue, the patio swept clean of small twigs—
    don’t you want to mess it all up, to roll around
    like a dog in his flower beds? Aren’t you a dog anyway,
    always groveling for love and begging to be petted?
    You ought to get into the garbage and lick the insides
    of the can, the greasy wrappers, the picked-over bones;
    you ought to drive your snout into the coffee grounds.
    Ah, coffee! Why not gulp some down with four cigarettes
    and then blast naked into the streets, and leap on the first
    beautiful man you find? The words Ruin me, haven’t they
    been jailed in your throat for forty years, isn’t it time
    you set them loose in slutty dresses and torn fishnets
    to totter around in five-inch heels and smeared mascara?
    Sure it’s time. You’ve rolled over long enough.
    Forty, forty-one. At the end of all this
    there’s one lousy biscuit, and it tastes like dirt.
    So get going. Listen, they’re howling for you now:
    up and down the block your neighbors’ dogs
    burst into frenzied barking and won’t shut up.

    Kim Addonizio, “Good Girl”

  15. David Corbett

    Since I brought her up, here's one from Dorianne:

    I had a boyfriend who told me stories about his family,
    how an argument once ended when his father
    seized a lit birthday cake in both hands
    and hurled it out a second-story window. That,
    I thought, was what a normal family was like: anger
    sent out across the sill, landing like a gift
    to decorate the sidewalk below. In mine
    it was fists and direct hits to the solar plexus,
    and nobody ever forgave anyone. But I believed
    the people in his stories really loved one another,
    even when they yelled and shoved their feet
    through cabinet doors or held a chair like a bottle
    of cheap champagne, christening the wall,
    rungs exploding from their holes.
    I said it sounded harmless, the pomp and fury
    of the passionate. He said it was a curse
    being born Italian and Catholic and when he
    looked from that window what he saw was the moment
    rudely crushed. But all I could see was a gorgeous
    three-layer cake gliding like a battered ship
    down the sidewalk, the smoking candles broken, sunk
    deep in the icing, a few still burning.

    Dorianne Laux, “Family Stories”

  16. David Corbett

    Ditto, Anna Akhmatova (to my mind, the greatest poet of love ever):

    Lying in me, as though it were a white
    Stone in the depths of a well, is one
    Memory that I cannot, will not, fight:
    It is happiness, and it is pain.
    Anyone looking straight into my eyes
    Could not help seeing it, and could not fail
    To become thoughtful, more sad and quiet
    Than if he were listening to some tragic tale.

    I know the gods changed people into things,
    Leaving their consciousness alive and free.
    To keep alive the wonder of suffering,
    You have been metamorphosed into me.

    —Anna Akhmatova

  17. David Corbett

    And last, poor lonesome steely Emily:

    Now I lay thee down to Sleep—
    I pray the Lord thy Dust to keep—
    And if thou live before thou wake—
    I pray the Lord thy Soul to make—

  18. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    David – Awesome, fucking both of them! Real intense. Yes. Yes and yes again.
    Thank you.

  19. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    Hey guys – David Corbett had some trouble uploading to our site today, so he sent me an email and asked me to put it up:

    "Dorothy Parker: Wasn't she the one who said — You can lead a whore to culture but
    you can't make her think?

    BTW: Let's not neglect to mention that your blog entry today is part of an
    impressive "blog tour" assembled by Gerald So, with the various writers commenting
    on the poems in the collection. The whole parade of commentaries can be tracked down
    here: "

    Thanks for getting the word out, David!

  20. Dudley Forster

    Here are a few of my favorite poets and my favorite poems:

    T.S. Elliot – While I love the WASTE LAND my favorite Elliot poem is OLD POSSUM'S BOOK OF PRACTICAL CATS

    Robert Frost – While I love many of Frost poems my favorites are THE ROAD NOT TAKEN and FIRE AND ICE.

    Edger Allan Poe – I love everything Poe wrote my favorite poem is ALONE, which I read over and over while I was in high school. Others include LENORE, THE RAVEN (of course) and THE CITY IN THE SEA



    William Blake –A POISON TREE & THE TYGER



    I am not up on more current poets, the most current that I like is Langston Hughes

  21. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    Dudley – thank you for that list of poets and favorite poems. They are now at the top of my list. I'll dig into them.

  22. lil Gluckstern

    Very nice, poignant, evocative posts. Will you let us know when the ebook is available?

  23. JT Ellison

    Oh, yummy. I find inspiration in many of the classics, but Whitman and Auden have really touched me in the past few weeks – they're inspiring the new book:


    As I ponder'd in silence,
    Returning upon my poems, considering, lingering long,
    A Phantom arose before me with distrustful aspect,
    Terrible in beauty, age, and power,
    The genius of poets of old lands,
    As to me directing like flame its eyes,
    With finger pointing to many immortal songs,
    And menacing voice, What singest thou? it said,
    Know'st thou not there is but one theme for ever-enduring bards?
    And that is the theme of War, the fortune of battles,
    The making of perfect soldiers.

    Be it so, then I answer'd,
    I too haughty Shade also sing war, and a longer and greater one than any,
    Waged in my book with varying fortune, with flight, advance
       and retreat, victory deferr'd and wavering,
    (Yet methinks certain, or as good as certain, at the last,) the
       field the world,
    For life and death, for the Body and for the eternal Soul,
    Lo, I too am come, chanting the chant of battles,
    I above all promote brave soldiers.


    Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
    Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
    Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
    Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

    Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crêpe bows round the white necks of the public

    Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

    He was my North, my South, my East and West,

    My working week and my Sunday rest,

    My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;

    I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.

    The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;

    Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

    The above is one of my all time favorites – it's hard to explain.

  24. David Corbett


    God, those are both just killer. The Auden is so refreshingly unconcerned with "positive," and captures the horrible reality of stark and sudden grief. And Good Old Whitman, the warrior of peace.

    But the only honest response to a great poem is another. To wit:

    Five Houses Down
    by Christian Wiman

    I loved his ten demented chickens
    and the hell-eyed dog, the mailbox
    shaped like a huge green gun.
    I loved the eyesore opulence
    of his five partial cars, the wonder-cluttered porch
    with its oilspill plumage, tools
    cauled in oil, the dark
    clockwork of disassembled engines
    christened Sweet Baby and benedicted Old Bitch;
    and down the steps into the yard the explosion
    of mismatched parts and black scraps
    amid which, like a bad sapper cloaked
    in luck, he would look up stunned,
    patting the gut that slopped out of his undershirt
    and saying, Son,
    you lookin’ to make some scratch?
    All afternoon we’d pile the flatbed high
    with stacks of Exxon floormats
    mysteriously stencilled with his name,
    rain-rotted sheetrock or miles
    of misfitted pipes, coil after coil
    of rusted fencewire that stained for days
    every crease of me, rollicking it all
    to the dump where, while he called
    every ragman and ravened junkdog by name,
    he catpicked the avalanche of trash
    and fished some always fixable thing
    up from the depths. Something
    about his endless aimless work
    was not work, my father said.
    Somehow his barklike earthquake curses
    were not curses, for he could goddam
    a slipped wrench and shitfuck a stuck latch,
    but one bad word from me
    made his whole being
    twang like a nail mis-struck. Aint no call for that,
    son, no call at all. Slipknot, whatknot, knot
    from which no man escapes—
    prestoed back to plain old rope;
    whipsnake, blacksnake, deep in the wormdirt
    worms like the clutch of mud:
    I wanted to live forever
    five houses down
    in the womanless rooms a woman
    sometimes seemed to move through, leaving him
    twisting a hand-stitched dishtowel
    or idly wiping the volcanic dust.
    It seemed like heaven to me:
    beans and weenies from paper plates,
    black-fingered tinkerings on the back stoop
    as the sun set, on an upturned fruitcrate
    a little jamjar of rye like ancient light,
    from which, once, I took a single, secret sip,
    my eyes tearing and my throat on fire.

  25. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    JT – the Auden really speaks to me.

    Reine – is that Patti Smith, the singer?

    You guys are really influencing my writing today. I'm back writing page one of my novel, now with a more poetic ear. So much for word-count.

  26. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    David….Jesus H….that is my favorite. Wiman, huh? Damn fucking good. What a rollicking whirlybird of a poem. Catches the essence of the man, the father, the ways of his life. Thank you for the introduction. Is Wiman around or long gone? I want more.

  27. Reine

    Yes, the very godmother of punk I discovered at Roskilde while visiting my granddaughter and hoping to find Seamus Deivert.

  28. David Corbett


    Until you asked, I knew nothing of Wiman but this poem. Like you, I want more. Here's something I scratched up through Google just now :

    Christian Wiman, born and raised in West Texas, continues a tradition in American poetry which is now outnumbered, if a tradition can be that. By now the boundless, formless, scattered and often scrambled poem dominates the American poetic world, and is advancing into the rest of the English-speaking world as inexorably as Wal-Mart. Chris Wiman does the other sort of thing. He writes with transparent exactitude in contained, rhythmic forms that Robert Frost would have approved of. Richard Wilbur, one of Chris Wiman’s mentors, has illuminatingly commented on his “singular power to bring about mergings of consciousness with the surround.” The surround can be anywhere in America and indeed the world. This poet is much travelled (he has lived in England, Mexico, Guatemala and the Czech Republic) and has served in several universities, with Stanford, where he was Jones lecturer in poetry, perhaps at the top of the list. His most influential posting, however, is the editorship of Poetry (Chicago), but he is notable for seeking, from contributors, nothing except quality, and imposes no requirement to write within the boundaries that he sets for himself. Indeed his own poetry is entirely absent from the magazine’s pages: an impressive act of self-denial. I find his poems insistent on being read aloud, in the way that so much from America is determined not to be. His rhymes and line-turnovers are all carefully placed to intensify the speech rhythms, making everything dramatic: not shoutingly so, but with a steady voice that tells an ideal story every time. His most recent collection, Hard Night (2005), is probably the best way in, but don’t miss the five-part title poem of his 1998 collection The Long Home. There is now also a book of prose, Ambition and Survival (2007), which deals fascinatingly with the subject of Becoming a Poet.

  29. Reine

    …Patti Smith has written several books of poetry. The dissonance of the spiritual and sexuality is what pulls me into her writing.

  30. Reine

    It's not so much that I like "confessional art" but peculiarly taken by her description of Sam Shepard. Probably I feel vindicated in my opinion, as they were so close and I think still have a strong affiliation. Because of their closeness, I had avoided her poetry until the festival in Roskilde and do regret that much. So many years have passed since I worked with him on one of his plays. You'd think I could give up my harsh thoughts after all this time! Heh. Maybe I am if I can write this.

  31. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    David – Illuminating! I'm going to seek him out, read his books, stalk him at conferences.

    Reine – I've been hearing a lot about Patti Smith lately – I heard her interviewed on NPR a couple months back and it made me realize how talented she is. I'm going to have to check out her poetry. And you've really got me curious about your times with Sam Shepard. What the hell is that about? I gotta know! Sounds tumultuous.

  32. toni mcgee causey

    JT, I love that Auden poem. If I remember correctly, it was read during the funeral part of 4 weddings and a funeral and was so moving, my body ached from it.

    God, David, that Wiman is awesome. I now have to have more. Thank you for posting that.

  33. Ken Bruen

    Wonderful woderful post as the amazing comments show.
    You are a poet.
    Me, I love Rilke
    …………………………..each angel is terrible
    a definition of moir right there.
    Happy Easter to you and all The magical rati
    Gerald So is our very own Max perkins

  34. David Corbett

    I had feeling we'd lure you from the ether, Ken, if we dribbled a few poems about. One sure way to coax an Irishman from his lair: verse.

    Agreed: Rilke is the gold standard:

    True singing is a different breath, about
    nothing. A gust inside the god. A wind.

    Hope all is swell with you, Mr. B. Lu is here by my side and sends a grand hello (she was the merry & mischievous sidekick who snapped our picture at the Edgars, God, was it three years ago? Too long. You're missed.)

  35. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    Ken – good to see you here – I'm looking forward to the day we can meet in person. And Rilke – yes, I agree. I need to spend some time with Rilke. Thanks for coming by.

  36. Rob Gregory Browne

    I will make a confession here, and probably not a very popular one. I've never really "gotten" poetry. I often see a kind of complex beauty in the words, but poetry has never really touched me in the way it does so many. I do remember enjoying the work of William Carlos Williams, but that's about the extent of it.

    I guess I'm like those who don't get Jazz…

    The deficiency pains me. Maybe I should try again.

  37. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    Rob – I struggle with it — if the poetry isn't accessible then I can't get into it. For me, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" is accessible, while "The Waste Land" isn't.
    However, I do "get" jazz, but that's because I studied it for many years and I appreciate what the musicians are doing. It's a music for musicians. I'm sure if I studied poetry I would ultimately "get" it, too. Same thing for Shakespeare – I love hearing it performed, but it's real work for me to appreciate it on the written page. I need to be guided through the process.

  38. Rob Gregory Browne

    Yeah, I get Jazz, all right. Love Jazz. And don't understand those who don't. Favorite artist—Bill Evans.

    But I'm sure there are those who don't understand how I could not get poetry.

  39. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    It's kinda hard to hum along to Charlie Parker's improv on "Donna Lee," so I can understand why people don't generally get it. Bill Evans is a fucking master.
    Have you ever listened to Chick Corea and Gary Burton play together?

  40. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    Great link, Rob. Amazing that they're still at the top of their game. I saw them live when I was eighteen years old at the Palo Saleri outdoor theater in Santa Fe, NM. You should look at those You Tube videos of them playing "Spain" from back in the day, and then recently. Burton's hands are incredibly fast. And Corea…probably my favorite pianist.

  41. David Corbett

    After I wrote DONE FOR A DIME, which features a lot of jazz and R&B, I was embraced by a number of jazz musicians who loved the book — Joshua Redman and Miguel Zenon, most notably. I cracked to a jazz producer friend that this accounted for my sales reaching "the high dozens." His response: "Welcome to my world."

    Jazz accounts for 1% of music sales in this country. Grim.

    Rob, I can't help but hear in your remarks about poetry echoes of what I hear when people say they don't like crime fiction. And it's largely because they don't read much of it to begin with. Hard to like something when you've given up on it.

    Poetry's like anything else — it's a question of taste and weeding out what's good from the vast assemblage of what isn't. It's no different than any other art form in that regard.

    I didn't get opera until I had an Italian wife (my late wife, Ms. Tessicini) and saw a great performance of Tosca on PBS. Tosca is basically a crime story. Things clicked into place after that. There's still a lot of opera I don't care for, but I don't dismiss it as a form. (My girlfriend loves Wagner's Ring, for example, whereas I agree with Rossini: "Herr Wagner has a a number of wonderful moments. And a great many tedious quarters of an hour.")

    Poetry is writing, period. It does often require a bit more concentration, but it rewards it often enough. But just like anything else, you'll find poets who just don't work for you and those who do — or individual poems that work — or leave you astonished — and others that leave you cold.

    There's a great tradition of American poetry that follows in Williams' footsteps: Mark Doty, Thomas Lux, Billy Collins. I think if you explored that you'd find much of what you once found interesting in Williams — the hard cold simplicity, the commitment to fact and real life and a disdain for artifice. Robinson Jeffers has that as well, and his The Deer Lay Down Their Bones is one of my favorite poems. The Chris Wiman poem I quoted above has it.

  42. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    David – it's funny, I just came on-line again so I could get Chris Wiman's name so I could order his work. I'm really looking forward to reading it. As long as I'm on-line, I'm going to order some of yours as well. I remember at Bouchercon people were talking about your first novel and it perked my interest.
    These poems have really influenced my writing these past two days. I've started writing my latest book from the beginning again, after tossing out the first fifty pages two or three times already. I'm going slower this time, paying a lot of attention to the poetry of the thing. And it's finally working.
    I'm looking forward to getting to know all these poets. Dig that Wiman.

  43. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    David – what Wiman book do you recommend? And which one of your books would you particularly like me to get?

  44. David Corbett


    Well, like I said, I only know that one poem of Wiman's, but I'm intrigued too, so I'm just going to follow the advice I found online (quoted above): "His most recent collection, Hard Night (2005), is probably the best way in, but don’t miss the five-part title poem of his 1998 collection The Long Home. There is now also a book of prose, Ambition and Survival (2007), which deals fascinatingly with the subject of Becoming a Poet."

    As for my books, the first two are out of print, so why not start with the most recent, DO THEY KNOW I'M RUNNING? And thanks. I've been meaning to pick up your books too — Kim raved, btw — and will do so now, like you, as I'm following up on Mr. Wiman.

  45. pari noskin taichert

    Fabulous to read all of these comments, Stephen. I'm also a big fan of Gerald's and his sensibility. Thank you for this uplifting post today . . .even though I'm two days late.

  46. Reine

    Stephen, I have to say this. I love this conversation. When my father was in theater his friends would come around, and we would have these talks in his kitchen – the one good memory I have of him, not often resurrected.

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