Poetry | St. Louis Public Radio


Authors, Readers Prepare For Lit In The Lou

Oct 3, 2014

“St. Louis is kind of underappreciated as a literary city,” St. Louis author Ann Leckie said. “There’s the long history, but there’s also plenty of writers who are here now.”

That history, including authors like Maya Angelou and Tennessee Williams, and award-winning authors like Leckie are fueling next weekend’s Lit in the Lou festival.

St. Louis Public Radio photos

Boise has one. So do Houston and Los Angeles, and even East St. Louis. But St. Louis is one of the few major cities that doesn’t have a poet laureate, an official poet to document its culture in verse.

image courtesy of Styx

Richard Newman of River Styx brings his poetic touch to St. Louis Public Radio. He regularly selects a poem to appear on this site. It's a free glimpse into the vibrant poetry life in this area. Today: Ted Kooser | Applause

Louis Brodsky
Provided by the family

Louis Daniel Brodsky, a stunningly prolific writer who composed nearly 12,000 poems, including more than 350 on the Holocaust, has died.

When Mr. Brodsky decided to become serious about his poetry, he committed himself to writing a poem every day of his life.

“He worked at being a poet,” said Eugene Redmond, professor emeritus of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and poet laureate of East St. Louis. “Lou went to work like a physician, like a person who worked in a coal mine, like a janitor, like a math teacher. It was amazing.”

image courtesy of Styx

Richard Newman of River Styx brings his poetic touch to St. Louis Public Radio. He regularly selects a poem to appear on this site. It's a free glimpse into the vibrant poetry life in this area. Today: A.E. Stallings | Daphne.

River Styx’s 39th (because who wants to turn 40?) Anniversary Issue just hit the stands and mailboxes. It includes this poem from the point of view of Daphne, a naiad chased by Apollo. Just before she was overtaken, she called out to her father, a river god, for help, and he turned her into a laurel tree.

A. E. Stallings


Rooted in my shade so long,

I have forgotten dance, and song,

The wild escape that brought me here.

My hair is leaves, the leaves are sere

And pregnant with a bitter oil,

My grip is pitch-forked in the soil.

No one pursues. I do not run

But stand all seasons in the sun:

Autumn shook me for his rattle,

Winter wooed me. Witless prattle

Coupled in my brain all spring

And changed into a crackled thing.

A poet’s wreath, a girl’s lost beauty

Crown me dryly, like a duty;

Now that the wind begins to shift,

Careless as a match, and swift,

Let summer find me in his turn

Slow to fade, and quick to burn.

A.E. Stallings is an American poet who has lived in Athens, Greece, since 1999. Her most recent collection is Olives (Triquarterly, 2012). She is a recipient of a 2011 MacArthur Fellowship and a Guggenheim Fellowship.

In this 2011 photo taken in Harlem, Maya Angelou is seated and Eugene Redmond is at her right.
Ros Crenshaw

The passing on Wednesday, May 28, of world-renowned poet, novelist and activist Maya Angelou has been a major news and social media topic.

Here in the St. Louis area, where Angelou was born on April 4, 1928, as Marguerite Johnson before moving away to Stamps, Ark., at an early age, she leaves behind her “brother in spirit,” East St. Louis-born poet and scholar, Eugene Redmond.

image courtesy of Styx

Richard Newman of River Styx brings his poetic touch to St. Louis Public Radio and the Beacon. He regularly selects a poem to appear on this site. It's a free glimpse into the vibrant poetry life in this area. Today: Jeffrey Bean | The Voyeur’s Blues.

This month we’re featuring a blues poem from River Styx’s upcoming anniversary issue. The blues often come in dark shades, and this one makes the speaker compelling and creepy, the scene sinister yet almost sweet.

Jeffrey Bean

The Voyeur’s Blues

detail from Gallery 210 postcard

Tuesday afternoon, I got away from the office a little early and headed south, dodging raindrops on the way to Chester, Ill. Past Ruma, the sky commanded attention.

On my right, streaks of thin clouds danced against an opaque, pale blue. Straight ahead, dark, deep foreboding clouds layered upward. The rain streaked below. But above all that, a dome of the clearest, cleanest blue provided the beginning of a benediction that was completed in the rainbow patch shimmering at my left.

Frazier Glenn Cross once headed a North Carolina Klan organization.
Wikipedia | archival photo

The national news brought poignant remembrances of the Boston Marathon this week. Close to home, the news brought fresh, stark examples of the best and worst in human nature.

Aaron Williams

When St. Louis attorney recruiter Aaron Williams became interested in croquet 30 years ago, it was about partying, not poetry. Getting some friends together to play croquet in Forest Park was just “something to do.”

“It was an opportunity for everyone to wear white and bring a bottle of champagne,” Williams quipped.

Kalise Harris
Stephanie Zimmerman | St. Louis Public Radio Intern

A South City Prep student who wrote about her best friend’s death set a high bar in the 7th Grade Poetry Foundation contest, created by St. Louis attorney Aaron Williams. But this year’s school winner seems ready to carry the mantle.

On Wednesday, 83 seventh-graders will perform an exercise in courage: reading their original poems at the Missouri History Museum in front of an audience. It’s the final event of the 7th Grade Poetry Foundation, called “Poetry on Their Own Terms.”


This month’s poem seemed like a perfect choice for the ilk that reads the “Free Verse” column and the ilk that reads “St. Louis Public Radio.”

Thomas Lux

You and Your Ilk

I have thought much upon

who might be my ilk,

and that I am ilk myself if I have ilk.

Is one of my ilk, or me, the barber

who cuts the hair of the blind?

And the man crushed by cruelties

for which we can't imagine sorrow,

who would be his ilk?

And whose ilk was it

standing around, hands in pockets, May 1933,

River Styx

Richard Newman of River Styx brings his poetic touch to St. Louis Public Radio and the Beacon. He regularly selects a poem to appear on this site. It's a free glimpse into the vibrant poetry life in this area. Today: Gary Fincke | “The Drive-Thru Strip Club”

Here’s a slice of contemporary American life. Would you like fries with that?

The Drive-Thru Strip Club

Courtesy of Poetry Scores

Poetry Scores, an organization translating poems into different media, is asking St. Louisans to picture themselves through the lines of a Greek psychoanalyst.

On the Metrolink, in bars and even at funerals, cell-phone photographers are capturing selfies -- self-portraits -- usually bound for Facebook, Instagram and other social media. But now, they now have a more poetic destination.

Update: Snow Didn't Stop Poetree Project In Forest Park

Dec 12, 2013
Tom Nagel

Update Dec. 15: New snow did affect Poetree. It brought in some people who might otherwise have not visited the installation. About 400 poems were submitted and another 600 were installed in a grove between the Art Museum and Zoo, including original works submitted to the project. 

At photographer Tom Nagel’s suggestion, historic preservationist Michael Allen mailed "Those Winter Sundays" by Robert Hayden to the mayor.

(Courtesy of Arthur Schwartz)

When Arthur Schwartz was 10 years old his parents gave him a newspaper clipping – a poem about the 1946 World Series in which the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Boston Red Sox.

After hearing our recent program on a new book about the 1946 World Series, Schwartz contacted us about the poem he memorized as kid, 67 years ago. 

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Ken Brown scared me a little bit.

That was an impression based on exactly one interaction, when the man read a series of short poems at the Firecracker Press on Nov. 19, 2011. The moment was interestingly intense, one of those experiences of taking in art that burns an impression in your mind, one that lasts for a good, long while.

Henry Goldkamp can take his typewriter anywhere.
Robert Rohe

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: Henry Goldkamp was smiling as he paced the sidewalk outside of St. Agatha Church with his cell phone pressed to his ear. "Inquiries,” he would later explain.

St. Louis’ "Rogue Poet” has been receiving many of those since launching What the Hell is St. Louis Thinking (WTHSTL) in August.

Erin Williams

  Henry Goldkamp has established himself as a bit of a writing fixture in the arts world of St. Louis. He spends his weekdays working in his family’s construction business, but on the weekends you can find him around town at his mobile office, banging out short vignettes of happiness, fear, love and passion on his manual typewriter as sole proprietor of Fresh Poetry, Ink.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: In her poems, Shirley Bradley LeFlore tells stories; and often, those stories are about women.

“I felt that women represent so much, as mothers, being a mother myself, being a girl, being an active person, a traveler, a woman that was always, from a girl, interested in watching people, listening to them,” she says. “I would say that runs through a lot of my work.”

Erin Williams

The intimate crowd was invited to share their thoughts on race and personal identity through spoken word. Guests wrote their six-word stories on the subject using cards from Michele Norris’ The Race Card Project

(via Wikimedia Commons)

April is national poetry month and as part of the commemoration, the St. Louis Poetry Center holds “The Belle of Blueberry Hill: Emily Dickinson at the Duck Room.”

While the St. Louis Poetry Center features the work of many poets and writers over the course of a year, the influential work of Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) is on focus at the organization’s upcoming event.

In 1862, Dickinson sent a letter containing four poems to Thomas Wentworth Higginson, who would later write of her, a “wholly new and original poetic genius.”

Eric Woods is Owner and Founder of The Firecracker Press at 2838 Cherokee Street.  He's a visual artist, not a poet.  But he's been teaming up with poets for most of the nine years he's been open, mostly, he says "out of necessity."

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: November 17, 2008 - Donald Finkel, a celebrated poet and one of the most luminous stars in the galaxy of the English Department at Washington University in St. Louis, died Saturday of Alzheimer's Disease at Schuetz Manor, an assisted living facility in St. Louis County. He was 79 years old. The university lowered its flag Tuesday in his honor. A memorial service is scheduled for Friday, Dec. 12, at 11:30 a.m. in the Women's Building on the Washington University campus.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: November 14, 2008 - It's a busy time for Walter Bargen, who is traveling the state as Missouri's first-ever poet laureate. Through readings and workshops, he's had a forum to discuss his beloved craft and help others improve their writing. But when it comes to creating his own poetry...

"Isn't that the irony?" Bargen said. "I hardly have any time for writing, and that's a frustrating element for me."

2008 photo of Sally Van Doren (300 pixels)
Provided by Ms. Van Doren

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The St. Louis region has long supplied spiritual and intellectual nourishment to poets, both born-here poets and poets who’ve migrated here. The list of names stuns you: T.S. Eliot; Marianne Moore; Sara Teasdale; poets laureate of the U.S. Mona Van Duyn and Howard Nemerov; and Eugene Redmond.